The Browns have established a bizarre streak of bad luck with punters. None of them has been able to stay healthy.
Richmond McGee is the latest victim. He was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a back injury. His predecessors, Reggie Hodges and Dave Zastudil, also suffered season-ending injuries in the past two years.
The Browns signed veteran Brad Maynard to replace McGee, the team announced. Maynard, 37, spent the past 10 seasons with the Chicago Bears.
He has ties to Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, who worked for the Bears from 2008-10.
In 14 NFL seasons, Maynard has punted 1,258 times for a gross average of 41.9 yards. Last season, he punted 83 times for a gross average of 40.1 yards, which ranked second to last among NFL punters.
In late July, the Bears told Maynard, whose contract had expired, that they weren’t going to re-sign him. He spent training camp and the preseason with the Houston Texans before they cut him Sept. 3.
Maynard has a new opportunity because the Browns have lost another punter. McGee suffered a herniated disc in his back Sunday as he warmed up before the Browns’ season-opening loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, said David Canter, McGee’s agent. McGee, 28, felt a twinge in his back before kickoff and lost feeling in his right leg as the game progressed, Canter said.
McGee’s injury offers an explanation for his poor performance, which prompted fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium to boo.
He punted eight times for a gross average of 36 yards and had three punts of 30 yards or less in his first NFL regular-season game.
“The guy is being vilified by the fans, and they don’t know the whole story,” Canter said Tuesday.
“I didn’t know the whole story, either. I actually called him and was like, ‘What the hell happened to you?’ He’s like, ‘Man, I can’t feel my leg. … I’ve been hurt the whole game. I told [the Browns], but they told me just to fight through it, and I just wanted to keep trying to punt and help the team.’ ”
Canter said McGee will seek a second opinion from a doctor to determine whether surgery is necessary.
Even if surgery is required, Canter said McGee intends to continue to pursue a career in the NFL.
McGee prevailed in a tryout and signed with the Browns on Aug. 3, two days after he was waived by the Bears. In the preseason, he punted 22 times for a gross average of 46.3 yards, which ranked 18th in the league.
“He’s just devastated,” Canter said. “It’s a great fit in Cleveland, a great opportunity to prove you’re a starting punter in the NFL. You get hurt in your first regular-season game after having an incredible preseason.
‘‘To have this all go down the way it has, he just feels disappointed, like he let the team, the organization, the fans and himself, everybody down. But injuries happen.”
McGee got his big break with the Browns because Hodges tore his left Achilles’ tendon during practice on Aug. 2. Hodges, 29, replaced Zastudil, 33, who tore the patella tendon in his right knee during the 2009 season.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at browns.ohio.com.