P Shawn Powell trying to get past Cleveland
Shawn Powell can finally get away from Cleveland.
The punter had one of his worst games there Oct. 3, allowing
Travis Benjamin to have a club-record day – 179 yards and a
touchdown on punt returns – during the Browns’ 37-24 win over the
Bills on a Thursday night. The short flight back to Buffalo was a
rough one, with Powell replaying all those imperfect punts in his
A few hours later, he was released. But in order to drive to his
home in Rome, Ga., he had to head back to the setting for those
unsettling moments. He got onto Interstate 90 and headed toward
Cleveland, the first leg of his trip.
”That game has really been on my mind,” the second-year punter
said. ”When I drove down from Buffalo to go home, you go through
Cleveland. It was just like: Dadgummit.
”But I watched that game. I looked at what I did wrong. I’ve
been working on what I was doing wrong.”
He’s got a chance to get it right.
The Bengals (9-5) signed him to replace Kevin Huber, out for the
rest of the season with a broken jaw. The 6-foot-4 punter suddenly
becomes an integral part of Cincinnati’s playoff push – he’ll hold
on field goal and extra point attempts as well.
There’s a lot riding on each kick.
Huber got hurt during a 30-20 loss in Pittsburgh on Sunday night
that left the AFC North leaders with no margin for error. They lead
Baltimore by one game, but finish the season at home against the
After leading the division by at least two games for much of the
season, they’re in danger of missing out on the playoffs entirely.
They can’t afford a loss to Minnesota (4-9-1) on Sunday at Paul
”We’ve really got to win because if we lose this game, it’s
going to be really ugly,” safety Chris Crocker said on
The Bengals are trying to get Powell ready in case it comes down
to one kick.
They chose him over four other punters who tried out on Tuesday
in part because he’s had a lot of experience as a holder. Huber was
the holder on field goals and extra points. Powell, long snapper
Clark Harris and kicker Mike Nugent got their first chance to work
together in practice on Wednesday.
”It’s definitely a getting-used-to period,” Nugent said. ”But
just seeing Shawn hold, not only can you tell he’s very good at it
but he’s done it before. He’s been in game situations, he knows the
”It’s something we definitely have to work on this week because
it’s something new.”
Huber got hurt during Antonio Brown’s 67-yard return for a
touchdown in the first half. The punter didn’t see Terence Garvin
coming to block him and wound up getting hit in the jaw with the
Steelers player’s helmet.
Huber broke his jaw at the chin and cracked a vertebra. He’ll
have surgery Friday to repair the jaw. The vertebra is expected to
heal on its own – Huber is wearing a neck brace for a couple of
Huber said Wednesday that he’s watched video of the
hit-to-the-chin a few times. As a Bengals fan growing up in
Cincinnati, Huber disliked the Steelers. The season-ending injury
adds to his feelings.
”But at the end of the day, the guy made the block he was
supposed to make,” Huber said. ”It was a hard hit. It obviously
worked out the way they planned it because they got a touchdown.
It’s hard to get mad at him for making that block, because that’s
what he’s coached to do and he made the right block.
”Do I still have that feeling toward the Steelers? Yeah. But
that’s how I was raised. We’ll go on from there.”
Notes: LB James Harrison and DE Carlos Dunlap were held out of
practice on Wednesday with concussions. CB Terence Newman also
missed practice with a knee injury that sidelined him for the game
in Pittsburgh. … RG Kevin Zeitler was limited in practice. He has
missed the last three games with a foot injury.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org