BEREA, Ohio — While a certain former Cleveland pro athlete who left for Miami makes his return to face his former team this week, a former Miami player returns with the Browns to face his former team near South Beach.
The fanfare of the LeBron James saga has garnered much attention.
Matt Roth’s return to play the Dolphins has not.
Roth says his return to play the Dolphins isn’t a big deal.
“I’m treating it like a normal game week,” Roth said. “I’m going in there and concentrating on the task at hand.
“Obviously, going back home, that’s where I lived for five years, and I have got some teammates that are still on the team,” Roth said. “Obviously, I want to win, but the reality is I have got to treat it like a normal game week and get ready for the task at hand.”
Roth admitted this is a big game for him, but nothing overly special.
“Obviously, I want to beat them,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. As far as emotions and letting it get the better half of me, not at all. I’m going to treat it like a normal game week.”
Roth was a second-round draft choice of the Dolphins (46th overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft from Iowa, but was cut on Nov. 24, 2009. The Browns snatched him up the next day and he literally stepped right in and started against the Bengals four days later and had seven tackles and a sack of Carson Palmer.
He started the final six games of the season with the Browns and became one of the Browns best players down the stretch last season. In just six games, Roth had 28 tackles, four sacks, one fumble recovery and a pass broken up.
After seeing the way Roth played for the Browns, most fans were trying to figure out why the Dolphins let him go.
“No, I got clarity with myself,” he said. “I’m a Cleveland Brown and that’s what I am right now. I enjoy being a Cleveland Brown and I hope to be a Cleveland Brown in the future. That’s the reality. I don’t sit and dwell on the past, I just have to keep moving forward and that’s what I have been doing.”
There was really no explanation of why the Dolphins released him.
“The reality of it was I had two groin surgeries in two years,” Roth said. “I just wasn’t ready. I went into camp and it just wasn’t ready. I can’t tell you the management side of things, but that was the reality of it and unfortunately, I was let go. The best thing that happened to me was to come here and be a Brown.”
Roth said it didn’t bother him that no reasons were given.
“No it didn’t matter to me,” he said. “Sometimes, as an athlete, you can’t say things to the media. It didn’t really make a big deal to me. I just knew I had to keep doing what I was doing.”
Prior to his release from the Dolphins, Roth had played in just four games and had four tackles.
Roth thinks he has improved from last season, even though his stats aren’t as flashy as they were in the few games he played with the Browns in 2009. Through 11 games, Roth has 53 tackles with 3.5 sacks and two passes broken up.
“I hope so,” he said. “I hope you get better, but I believe so. I believe fitting into the scheme of things and learning more of the playbook, that I’m evolving as a player.”
Roth threatened to sit out the 2010 season if he didn’t get a contract extension or a new contract, but Eric Mangini hopes Roth will be with the Browns for years to come.
“He’s played 90 plus percent of the plays,” Mangini said. “He creates problems. He’s a great tempo setter. I really enjoy the guy he’s good for the locker room. There are a lot of things I really like about him.”
Roth said teams sometimes go away from him in the run game. That could explain why some of his numbers are down.
“Yes, I know a lot of those times in the run game, they’ll run away,” he said. “That’s just the reality of it. I’ve been doing a good job, but they will run to you sometimes.”
Mangini is not surprised that teams run away from him and said that you can’t judge his play only by the number of sacks he has. Considering he had four sacks in just six games last season, many thought he would get to double digits in sacks in 2010.
“He’s playing pretty well,” Mangini said. “People now Matt Roth a lot better in this division now that’s he’s been here. Some of the things with Matt too is it’s not always him getting the sack but his pressure will lead to someone else getting the sack and then he’s had a bunch of hits on the quarterback and things like that. He’s been good in the running game. I’ve been happy with what he’s done. Everybody wants to have 10 sacks, but very few people do.”
Haden Rookie Player of the Month: Rookie CB Joe Haden is starting to get noticed around the NFL for his play as he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November.
Haden had 15 tackles, seven passes broken up, three interceptions and one tackle on special teams. The three interceptions led all rookies and he currently has a streak of three straight games with an interception.
“I’m just honored to receive an award like that,” Haden said. “I won some awards from the SEC in college, but this is special as it’s my first in the NFL.”
The last Browns player to do that in their first year was Bernie Parrish in 1959. Haden leads the team in interceptions with four and is third among all NFL rookies and tied for seventh in the league.
“I just know when I am out there, I always try to look for opportunities for interceptions,” Haden said. “I feel like I am getting a whole lot more comfortable with the games, it’s starting to get a whole lot slower and I just feel a lot more comfortable. That makes me feel like I can make a lot more plays.”
Haden is the first Brown to win the award since it was established in 1996.
Mangini is happy with Haden’s play.
“I think it’s great, I really do,” he said. “I have been happy with Joe. He’s making more plays in practice and those plays are translating into the game. He’s building up those reps over the course of the season and now it’s more of a reaction for him, rather than thinking.”
Browns Sign Sabby; Release Clayton: The Browns confirmed the signing of DB Sabby Piscitelli off waivers from the Buccaneers. Piscitelli was drafted in the second-round (64th overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft. He has played in 45 games with 20 starts, recording five interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
“He’s big, strong, fast and aggressive,” Mangini said. “He’s played a lot on defense and is very good on special teams. When he became available we thought he would improve our special teams and give us depth in the secondary. We’ll have to see if he can play certain roles.”
In 2010, he played in 11 games with 13 tackles and one interception. He played at Oregon State and is wearing number 28.
“I just want to come in here and do whatever the coaches ask of me to fit in,” Piscitelli said.
Tampa Bay signed Larry Assante off the Browns practice squad and then let Piscitelli go despite having injury issues at safety.
In order to make room for Piscitelli, the Browns waived RB Thomas Clayton leaving them with just RB Peyton Hillis and RB Mike Bell.
“Typically, we go to games with two backs,” Mangini said.
He was asked if they would bring in another running back.
“It depends on who comes up and what role they would play.”
Injury Update: Missing practice on Thursday is QB Colt McCoy (ankle), LB Scott Fujita (knee), DL Kenyon Coleman (knee) and DL Shaun Rogers (ankle).
FB Lawrence Vickers (calf), WR Josh Cribbs (foot), DB T.J. Ward (thigh) and DB Eric Wright (knee) all returned to practice, at least in a limited role.