Cleveland Browns kicker Billy Cundiff (8) boots a 39-yard field goal against the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard
December 13, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) Billy Cundiff practiced inside FirstEnergy Stadium on Thursday, working on his mechanics and hoping to snap out of his recent funk.

He won't play there Sunday.

The Browns waived the slumping kicker Saturday and replaced him with veteran Garrett Hartley, who will likely kick against the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals.

Cundiff's release comes a week after he missed a 40-yarder in a one-point loss to Indianapolis and following two days in which he kicked well in practice before injuring his knee.

On Thursday, Browns special teams coach Chris Tabor offered his support of Cundiff, who had missed a kick in each of Cleveland's past five games. Tabor gave a glowing report on Cundiff's workout at the downtown stadium.

''We just got back moments ago, and I thought he kicked the ball as well as I've ever seen him,'' Tabor said. ''There are some other things that sometimes go into it, but if he strikes the ball the rest of the season like he did today, we'll be in great shape.''

Cundiff, however, then missed Friday's practice and coach Mike Pettine said the 34-year-old veteran had injured himself the previous day.

Cundiff refused to discuss his injury, deferring all questions about his status to Pettine. Although Cundiff had a sleeve on his left leg, the Browns said on their injury report he hurt his right knee.

Whatever the case, with three games left, the Browns (7-6) couldn't afford to squander any more scoring chances if they want to make the playoffs.

Hartley was one of three kickers the Browns worked out earlier this week. He kicked in 57 games for New Orleans from 2008-13 and made 82 field goals. He's converted on 81 percent of his attempts.

Cundiff made 22 of 29 field goals in his second season with Cleveland. Last year, he was good on 21 of 26. The Browns signed him as a free agent in 2013 after deciding not to re-sign steady Phil Dawson, who went to San Francisco. Cundiff has also played for Washington, Baltimore, New Orleans and Dallas. He was previously with the Browns in 2009.

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