CLEVELAND — Kicking in the NFL is one of the more important and underappreciated parts of the game, and one the Browns have struggled for some time to find a high-caliber player to do it. Not since the days of Phil Dawson have the Browns truly been able to rely on their kicker—but they hope that changes after drafting Cade York out of LSU in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and he's already getting some tips from Dawson himself.
“I have talked to Phil Dawson," York said at rookie minicamp Friday. ”He just kind of went through some of the stuff he did, plant cleats, talked about the wind a little bit, different types of conditions. Everyone has their own style going about things but it was cool to pick his brain about things.”
York did most of his work Friday at FirstEnergy Stadium before minicamp practice, getting a feel for kicking in an NFL stadium. The weather was far more favorable Friday than he'll deal with for most of his games in Cleveland, but he's looking forward to getting a feel for the rough stuff too as it presents itself.
In the meantime, York is getting tips from Dawson, having a 40-minute conversation with him about what to expect and of course, talking about the tool Dawson used to guide his success between the uprights.
"He did talk and say people would be mentioning his flag," York said.
But more importantly, Dawson gave York advice about the weather and how to stay ahead of difficult conditions.
"He just mentioned 'yeah, there's going to be days where it's going to be tough, you just got to go out there and hit a true ball, you got to be okay with not hitting it down the middle every time and just have confidence in what you do and not every kick is going to be the same,'" York said.
Dawson became the definition of success as placekicker in his 14 years with Cleveland, making 441 of his 526 field goal attempts for an 83.8% success rate, and 518 of his 531 extra-point attempts for a 97.6% success rate. That success made him a legend in Cleveland and has prompted many of the Browns kickers to seek him out for advice, with York being the latest to do so.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski is excited to see a Browns legend work closely with and help mold the rookie kicker.
“I think that's great. I think Phil has been an outstanding ambassador for our team and certainly our specialists," Stefanski said. "To be able to connect with Phil and talk through FirstEnergy Stadium is an important part of it.”
While York and Dawson haven't met yet, York is sure that will happen soon enough.
"I'm sure we will eventually," York said. "I'm sure at some point we'll cross paths."
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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