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News » Browns' big man in middle making big impact

Browns' big man in middle making big impact

Browns' big man in middle making big impact
BEREA, Ohio (AP) - His sweatshirts are labeled XXXXL, and Shaun Rogers' game has been super-sized too.

The humongous nose tackle, who arrived in Cleveland with a reputation for not playing up to his potential on the field and being undisciplined off it, has been the Browns' best defender this season. At 6-foot-4 and 350 - or so - pounds, Rogers has only been a disruptive force in just one place - opposing backfields.

With an uncommon blend of size and speed for such a big man, Rogers has silenced critics while astounding others with his all-around talents.

Browns coach Romeo Crennel has never seen anyone like him.

"A guy like Shaun comes along once in a lifetime," Crennel gushed on Wednesday. "You just don't find guys who have that kind of size and that kind of quickness and speed everyday. I'm glad we got him."

Despite being double- and sometimes triple-teamed last Sunday in Jacksonville, Rogers had perhaps the finest game of his eight-year NFL career. The mammoth man in the middle wearing No. 92 was all over the field.

He was credited with five tackles, including four solo, three pressures on Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and one sack. In the fourth quarter, Rogers busted through the line, blocked Matt Scobee's 38-yard field goal attempt and recovered the loose ball to preserve the Browns' 3-point lead in what became a 23-17 win.

"I told him he needed to pick it up and run it in for a touchdown," Crennel said, joking about Rogers' 12th career blocked kick. "That was lot of production for a nose tackle."

It was a beautiful day in this Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.

But the 29-year-old, who barely came off the field on a warm, autumn Sunday in Florida, has already moved on following his one-man wrecking ball performance. He hasn't bothered reviewing last week's game film so he can concentrate on this week's challenge.

"I'm watching tape of the Baltimore Ravens," he said.

It's a safe bet the Ravens are watching Rogers, too. And worrying.

A two-time Pro Bowler in Detroit, Rogers is getting better each week for an improving Cleveland defense which held Jacksonville running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to just 53 combined yards on 20 carries. In the Browns' 3-4 scheme, the nose tackle's primary job is to tie up offensive linemen long enough that the linebackers can run free and make tackles.

Rogers is Cleveland's defensive clog.

"He makes everybody around him better," Browns center Hank Fraley said. "He's an impact on that D-line. Everybody's able to feed off of him when they're doubling and tripling him. It's freeing up guys to be one-on-one. The defense is feeding off him more and more, realizing if I'm one-on-one and he's getting tripled, I need to beat people."

It's exactly what Browns general manager Phil Savage had in mind in March when he traded starting cornerback Leigh Bodden and a 2008 third-round draft pick to the Lions for Rogers. The deal was followed by the Browns signing Rogers to a six-year, $42 million contract that included $20 million guaranteed.

The new contract raised eyebrows around the league as some wondered if the Browns weren't making a mistake. After all, Rogers had been a source of frustration in Detroit, where his conditioning was questioned by coaches and Lions fans roared that he seemed to take plays off. Also, Rogers was suspended for four games in 2006 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

The perception: he's trouble.

The reality: he's been anything but.

"He's a great teammate," Fraley said. "You never want to go off opinions and you never want to go off speculation. You can't pass judgment until you meet somebody and know him. He's been great, been nothing but a leader on that side of the ball and for the whole team."

Crennel went through a similar situation with "a problem kid" when he was a defensive coordinator in New England. The club acquired running back Corey Dillon, who wore out his welcome in Cincinnati before helping the Patriots win a Super Bowl.

"I know that sometimes a change of scenery can impact a player," Crennel said. "I don't know what happened in Detroit, but any time you bring a new player to your team, what you do is you go by what you see and what he has done for you from the time he walks in the door."

Crennel, who has a reputation for being a player's coach, was asked why Rogers seems to enjoy playing for him.

"Because we're similar in size," he said with a smile.

Rogers, who leads the Browns with 3 1/2 sacks, showed off his remarkable speed when he ran down Garrard from behind after a 6-yard run to force a punt. Rogers shrugged when asked where he acquired his gift.

"Genetics," said Rogers, whose father, Ernie, was drafted in 1979 by Dallas and later played in both the CFL and USFL. "I'm sure I don't do anything special. I'm sure I don't work any harder or any less than the other guys around the league. I guess it's just a blessing."

He feels equally fortunate about coming to Cleveland, where he has made the most of a chance to outrace his history.

"The past is most definitely the past," Rogers said. "I'm just happy to be here."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 30, 2008

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Antwan Peek Name: Antwan Peek
Position: DE
Age: 28
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