Browns coach Eric Mangini said surgery is ''definitely a possibility'' for punter Dave Zastudil, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with right knee injury.
''I don't think that's been ruled out,'' Mangini said.
Zastudil, from Bay Village, was having a Pro Bowl-caliber season. Besides his 44.7 average (39.1 net), Zastudil ranked second in the league this week with 25 punts inside the 20 after leading in that category for much of the year. He's surpassed 25 inside the 20 only three times in his eight-year career, two of those coming when he played in all 16 games.
''He was having a tremendous season,'' kicker Phil Dawson said. ''To have a 44-yard average and to be leading the league in punts inside the 20, you don't see that very often. To lose a guy who performs at such a high level, that's a blow. He's going to be sorely missed, I can't overstate that enough. But we don't have the luxury or the time to dwell on it. We've got to keep moving forward, just like an injury at any other position.''
Dawson said punter Reggie Hodges, signed on Sunday, will be his holder, replacing Zastudil.
Both Zastudil and Dawson could have paid the price this season for being the only punter and kicker on the roster in training camp. Dawson missed Games 3-7 with a right calf injury, while Zastudil kicked in the first eight games before landing on the inactive list Monday night.
But Browns coach Eric Mangini doesn't think wear and tear played a part in either Zastudil's or Dawson's injuries.
''No, I don't think that's the case at all,'' Mangini said. ''I've been in a lot of training camps where you've only had the two kickers that you go into the season with.
''We had Mike Nugent last year (with the New York Jets) where he just stepped wrong in the first game and ended up hurting himself. Sometimes it's just how the plant foot comes down or a little bit of a twist. It's such a specific skill set that sometimes those things happen.''