BEREA — He's come a long way.
It wasn't too long ago that those who follow the Browns thought maybe safety Sean Jones was going to be another draft choice who didn't pan out.
And last year there were a few snickers when Jones said he thought he could be as much of a playmaker as the Steelers' Troy Polamalu or other top safeties in the NFL.
But for his performance last Sunday against the Jets, Jones was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Jones had two interceptions, three tackles and a pass defensed in helping the Browns defeat the Jets, 20-13.
"It feels great," Jones said. "I feel that all my hard work is paying off. I look at it as a step, not necessarily as a step to the Pro Bowl, but I look it more as a way to help the team win."
Jones was drafted by Butch Davis in the second-round (59th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. He suffered a torn ACL in mini-camp prior to his rookie season and missed the whole season. He played in all 16 games in 2005, but did not start a game until this season when he won the starting strong safety role over Brodney Pool.
Jones was used primarily on special teams in 2005 where he had 20 tackles. He had just four tackles from scrimmage on defense.
Thus far in 2006, Jones has 42 tackles with a team-leading four interceptions. He's had four passes broken up and recovered a fumble. Jones is currently tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions.
The last Browns defensive back to earn AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors was Anthony Henry in 2001 and the last safety was Eric Turner back in 1994.
"(Winning the award) is excellent for Sean and it shows the progress he's made for this team," Romeo Crennel said."He has ability to make interceptions and he knows where he needs to be and what the opponent is doing to him.
"Sean is a good tackler," he said. "There were times last year when Sean was concerned with his status of being a starter and role on the team."
Crennel said he saw the potential in Jones last season in practice and in his work on special teams.
"We knew Sean had the ability but the system had changed and he had to get comfortable with the system," Crennel said. "As a result of that, he won the starting job and is making the most of it."
There also is some validity that it really takes two seasons for a player coming off an ACL injury to fully return to their form prior to injury.
"He's made a lot of progress," Crennel said. "He has really matured and accepted the role. He's done a good job and it is showing up on the field. He's gotten himself in position to make plays and he's doing that. He is a good tackler and has good range. The team has a lot of confidence in him."
Jones says he understands his role in the defense and what the Browns are trying to do.
"I feel very comfortable in this defense," he said. "God gave me the ability and I'm just trying to make the most of the opportunity given to me."
Jones thinks he still has room for improvement.
"I'm not satisfied at all," he said. "I want to keep getting better."
Merriman Out: Chargers' star linebacker Shawne Merriman will not play against the Browns as he decided to drop his appeal and will begin his four-game NFL imposed suspension this week against the Browns.
However, Crennel said the Chargers have a lot more than Merriman on defense.
"They are a really, really good opponent," Crennel said. "Merriman did what he felt was best for himself and the team. We were not going to play just Shawn Merriman. We were going to play the Chargers. It's part of the business. They still have a very, very good team. That's why they're number two in the NFL, and I don't think one guy is going to knock them down."
Injury Update: Crennel listed nine players on the injury report as questionable. The most notable addition is CB Davin Holly with another undisclosed illness.
"We have a few guys still battling injuries," Crennel said. "Leigh Bodden (ankle), Justin Hamilton (ankle), Dennis Northcutt (ribs), Jereme Perry (ankle), Kellen Winslow (knee), Joe Andruzzi (knee), Willie McGinest (ankle), Orpheus Roye (hamstring), Ryan Tucker (illness) and Davin Holly (illness).
"Holly is different illness from Tucker but he won't be at practice toda," Crennel said.
Crennel said Andruzzi and McGinest's MRIs were negative.
Crennel was asked about Holly, who has been filling in for Gary Baxter and doing a good job.
"It seems every time we get a little stability something happens," Crennel said. "It seems like if we get one stake in the ground, then we can't get the other one in."