Kicker Chase McLaughlin was a late addition to the Cleveland Browns injury report on Friday.
McLaughlin landed on the injury report with a hamstring issue, which is a tough ailment to deal with for a kicker. McLaughlin won the kicking battle in camp but is far from a sure thing as a long-term solution for the Browns at the position. If he’s unable to go, it would be Chris Naggar — who the Browns signed to their practice squad last week — taking over the duties. It should be noted that McLaughlin was a full participant in practice.
Naggar is an undrafted free agent that signed to the New York Jets out of SMU. He began his collegiate career at Texas before transferring to SMU for his redshirt senior season. He was the AAC Special Teams Player of the Year, making 17 of his 21 field goal and 43 of 46 extra points (93.5).
McLaughlin is joined by five projected starters on the injury report. Wide receiver Odell Beckham (knee), safety Ronnie Harrison (ankle), defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (illness) and center JC Tretter (knee) are also considered questionable.
Browns: McLaughlin ‘Good Not Great’
McLaughlin was good — but not great — in camp, according to special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who was trying to shake the sentiment that McLaughlin won the job by default after incumbent kicker Cody Parkey went down with an injury, later being waived by the team.
“I think he has done enough to win the job,” Priefer said. “Now, he has to keep getting better every week. He has to make the kicks when we need him to make them and kick off well. I am excited about where he is. Hopefully, he can come through for us.”
The low-point for McLaughlin in the preseason was a shanked extra point and a missed 56-yarder.
“If you are a kicker or a punter, you are punting for your job or you are kicking for your job every single rep. I think he understands that,” Priefer said. “I hope we are not going to pull the trigger. I hope he goes out and kicks well and he is our kicker for the entire year.”
Against an explosive team like the Chiefs, the game could come down to a final kick. Hopefully, McLaughlin will be healthy enough to go, but if not, Naggar will have to be ready to step up to the plate.
Jadeveon Clowney Returns to Practice
A concern for the Browns was the health of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who missed a pair of practices due to illness. However, Clowney returned to practice — and more importantly — tested negative for COVID-19.
“He obviously was sick so good getting him back in here. It was nice seeing him out there at practice,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said after Friday’s practice.
There are some big expectations for Clowney, who signed a one-year deal with the Browns this offseason. He’s had some injuries slow down his production the last two seasons, but is feeling healthy heading into the new year. Playing opposite of Myles Garrett should provide him some key opportunities to affect the game from his defensive end spot.