The Cleveland Browns have been in a comfortable position this season when it comes to placekicker Cody Parkey.
Since signing with the team heading into Week 2, Parkey has been almost automatic as he has converted 23-of-24 extra points and 11-of-12 field goals, while also handling the kickoff duties.
The Browns, however, may get a taste of life without Parkey on Sunday when they host the Philadelphia Eagles at FirstEnergy Stadium. Parkey is currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list with right tackle Jack Conklin after they were identified as close contacts of an outside medical practitioner who tested positive for the virus.
If both Parkey and Conklin continue to test negative they would be eligible to play on Sunday. But if Parkey is out, the Browns will turn to Matt McCrane, who was signed to the practice squad prior to Week 2 for this exact situation.
McCrane last kicked in the NFL in 2018, when he played for the Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders. That season he made all nine of his extra points and converted eight-of-12 field goals.
If his name sounds familiar to Browns fans, that is because they remember him from the game against the Raiders that season where McCrane kicked a game-winning 29-yard field goal in overtime to give the Raiders a 45-42 win that was greatly influenced by the referees.
McCrane was out of the league in 2019, but spent the early part of 2020 kicking for the New York Guardians of the defunct XFL. McCrane made all eight of his field goal attempts with the Guardians, and did not always kick in the best of weather as the season took place in February and March. That is a good sign for someone who might be tasked with kicking in the Browns unpredictable home stadium.
Having Parkey on the sidelines might not be the team’s first choice, but if they have to turn to McCrane in an emergency they have confidence in him, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer told clevelandbrowns.com on Thursday:
“The great thing is that our personnel people and myself, we have had a plan in place since July if something crazy like this happened,. As I told Coach Stefanski the other day, we are not going to bat an eye. We have a plan, and we have to go execute the plan. If we do not have Cody, we have to be ready to go. If Cody can come back Sunday morning, he will be ready to go. Either way, we are not pressing the panic button.
“We will just go out and do our deal, and Matt will be fine. Matt will do a great job for us if he has to play on Sunday.”
The situation may not be ideal, but Browns general manager Andrew Berry deserves credit for having a contingency plan in place for a situation like this. The last thing the Browns want is to have to sign a kicker off the street at the last minute, one who could potentially cost them a game while they are in the playoff hunt.
With McCrane being able to practice all week and get his wits about him, he at least has a chance to go into the game prepared if he is called on to face the Eagles.