After having some concern about punter Dave Zastudil earlier in the week, things seemed to be "ok", as the Browns were taking it slow with the veteran punter throughout the week. Romeo Crennel had stated that if they felt that Zastudil couldn't go, they would sign a punter before Sunday's game. Just a few minutes ago, the team announced that they signed veteran punter Paul Ernster to a deal.
Ernster, a seventh-round draft pick in 2005, has been with the Denver Broncos for the past several seasons. Last year, he played in all 16 games with the Broncos and averaged 41.7 yards, a 36.6 net average, on 80 punts. Of his 80 attempts, 23 of them were downed inside the 20-yard line. Ernster was also the Broncos' kickoff person last year and ranked third in the league with 19 touchbacks.
In making this move, the Browns had to waive defensive back Jereme Perry from the roster, a move that was expected if we were to sign anyone. In regards to what this actually means, I'm still not sure. Going to the extent of signing a punter makes it seem like we're going to use him this Sunday, but it could also be an extra precaution. The Browns may have originally planed on putting Perry on the non-active list for the game, and will only have him there if something seriously goes wrong with Zastudil during warmups. If Zastudil feels good after warmups, perhaps Ernster will simply be on the non-active list again. As soon as the Browns provide an update, I'll provide another update as well.
Staying on the issue of special teams, an article in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer features a bold prediction from Joshua Cribbs.
"I'm so ready to hurry up and win it, and get over that ... Pittsburgh hump," said Cribbs. "Then, we can go on with the rest of our conference."
"We're of course defending our house," said Cribbs. "We're all familiar with the rivalry, but we feel we have the necessary elements on our football to make it happen."
Cribbs attributed his beliefs on all of the offseason additions the Browns have made, including guys like Joe Thomas, Eric Wright, Eric Steinbach, Antwaan Peek, and Seth McKinney. Of course, the preparation all offseason certainly factors into Cribbs' confidence as well.
With Joey Porter gone from the Steelers, we probably won't here any quotes like this anymore from the team: