Player might play Sunday if Zastudil can't go

Updated: September 19, 2007, 11:11 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

It's another week and another punter for the Cleveland Browns, who have signed veteran Scott Player as their latest insurance policy while incumbent Dave Zastudil continues to recover from a back injury of two weeks ago.

Zastudil suffered a strained oblique during a Sept. 3 practice, missed the first game of the season, then played in last Sunday's victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Zastudil punted only twice in the 51-45 shootout and had terrific numbers -- a 43.0-yard gross average a net average of 39.5 yards, and one punt inside the 20-yard line -- but was in obvious pain.

It is possible the Browns will give him a full week off to rest the injury, and use Player for Sunday's game at Oakland.

This will mark the third straight week in which the Browns will keep two punters on their roster.

Player, 37, replaces two-year veteran punter Paul Ernster, who was waived. Cleveland signed Ernster, the full-time punter in Denver in 2006, the day before the regular-season opener, when it became obvious that Zastudil could not play. But Ernster dropped an easy snap on his first punt against the Steelers, and things went downhill from there.

A 10th-year veteran, Player spent his entire career with the Arizona Cardinals, but was released in the final roster cutdown when the team signed Mike Barr from Pittsburgh. A Pro Bowl performer in 2000, Player has appeared in 139 games.

The former Florida State standout has punted 714 times for a gross average of 43.1 yards and a net average of 37.7 yards. Player has 179 kicks inside the 20-yard line and 62 touchbacks.

Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.