A nightmarish Sunday in New Orleans cost Zane Gonzalez his job as Browns kicker. Unknown rookie Greg Joseph will find out in a hurry if this is his dream job.
The Browns signed rookie Greg Joseph, who spent the preseason with the Miami Dolphins after a strong career at Florida Atlantic, and waived Gonzalez on Monday afternoon.
Kickers auditioned Monday in advance of Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets. Joseph was selected from a field that included veterans Blair Walsh and Cairo Santos.
“I felt real good about [Joseph’s] workout,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “He has a strong leg, obviously, and he fits all the criteria we’re looking for in a kicker.
“Let’s be honest. It’s a quick turnaround. Obviously we’ve got to find a guy who can put the ball through the uprights.”
Joseph opened the 2017 college season with a career-best 54-yard field goal against Navy. He spent four years as Florida Atlantic’s kicker, including his final season under coach Lane Kiffin.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, before moving to Florida, he spent just one year in high school football after making all-state as a soccer player. Joseph was waived by the Dolphins during final roster cuts. During the preseason, he connected on all three field goal attempts and both extra point tries.
In Sunday’s 21-18 loss to the Saints, Gonzalez missed two extra-point kicks and two field goals, including one that would have tied the game at the end of regulation.
Given the fact the game was in a dome, the crucial nature of the late kicks and the Browns’ thirst for a first win since 2016, it was one of the most maddening games for a kicker in Browns history.
During Browns training camp, Gonzalez was in competition with former Walsh Jesuit High School kicker Ross Martin. Martin was a late addition to the training camp roster, signing on June 14, after spending part of 2016 with the Jets as an undrafted free agent.
Gonzalez, a seventh-round pick a year ago, was 17-of-25 on career field goal attempts and 28-of-31 on PATs for the Browns.