BEREA—When the Browns traded Braylon Edwards to the Jets on Oct. 7, Jason Trusnik was described as a “special teams maven.”
He was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble that led to a Jets’ touchdown against the Titans on Sept. 27.
Since joining the Browns he has played in four games, including two starts and has registered 19 tackles and two sacks on defense and one tackle on special teams.
With the season-ending injury to D’Qwell Jackson and possibly Eric Barton, Trusnik is listed now as the starting outside linebacker with David Bowens moving inside.
Trusnik had eight tackles, including a sack last week against the Bears.
Not bad for a kid who grew up a Browns fan in Macedonia and played at Nordonia High School. Trusnik went on to Division III Ohio Northern in Ada, Ohio. He signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent and made the team in 2007 because of his special teams play.
“I definitely grew up a Browns fan,” Trusnik said. “I remember being out here at training camp and following the team closely.”
Trusnik said he wants to make the most of the opportunity he has on defense.
“It’s definitely been an adjustment on the run,” he said. “But to come home now and play a prominent role, I want to take advantage of the opportunity.”
The 6-4, 250-pound Trusnik is expected to make his third career start against the Ravens next week on Monday Night Football.
“Whatever I can do to help the defense out, I want to do,” Trusnik said. “It’s been a little easier because I was in (Coach) Mangini’s system (in New York).
“I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the guys and am adjusting to fit in the defense.”
Trusnik thinks the Browns will be able to turn things around from here on out.
“It’s been a learning curve with the new coach and we’re looking forward to improving as a team in the second half of the season.”
Mangini Still Mum on QB: Eric Mangini said he will talk to the quarterbacks first and tell them who will start against the Ravens next week. He said he will announce his decision on Wednesday.
“I’ll let you know on that on Wednesday,” he said. “I haven’t sat down with the quarterbacks, as of yet.”
Mangini said there are some things the Browns can do on offense in the second half of the season.
“I believe there are a lot of things this offense can do,” Mangini said. “It starts with ball security and we have to emphasize it almost to the point of overkill with pressure. The more we protect the ball, the better chance we’ll have to score.
“From a scheme perspective, there’s a range of things we have looked at to incorporate it the rest of the season,” he said. “There are a lot of things in fundamental areas and if you show the players if those things are corrected, we would be alright.”
QB Brady Quinn agreed the offense has to take better care of the ball.
“A big key for us is to take care of the ball,” he said. “And not give the opponent a chance to score points.”
Quinn said he didn’t know if he would be named the starter or not.
“I have no idea,” he said. “We’re just trying to take it one day at a time and continue to build on the things we’ve worked on and have done well.”
Barton Out?: Mangini refused to comment whether LB Eric Barton would be out for the season. There has been some reports that he suffered a neck injury that could need surgery and end his season.
“I think we’ll know more later today or tomorrow,” Mangini said of Barton.
Benard to Roster: Rookie LB Marcus Benard was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster.
“He was an undrafted free agent who always had his hand in the dirt in college,” Mangini said. “He’s had to learn to stand up and play linebacker. He was the (practice squad) player of the week against Buffalo and the thing that has been consistent for him is his work ethic.”
Benard was an undrafted free agent from Jackson State, who showed some flashes of being a pass rusher in the preseason. Benard is 6-2, 256 pounds.
The Browns had two open roster spots after releasing K Billy Cundiff and DB Anthony Madison. With the promotion of Benard, the Browns still have an open spot.
“We’ll have some more guys in for workouts (Tuesday) and see what happens,” he said. “We have an idea on what we’re going to do.”
Jamal Back: RB Jamal Lewis was back at practice on Monday after missing a couple days last week. He also said all of the players came back from their time off.
“He’ll practice today,” Mangini said. “Everybody else made it back on time.”
Holmgren Rumors: Mangini was asked repeatedly about the rumors of Mike Holmgren coming in as the Browns’ GM. Mangini said it wouldn’t be a distraction.
“No, it’s not going to be a distraction for me or any of the players,” he said. “There are so many things that come up during the season and it’s important to remain focused on what the task at hand is. Being involved with various programs has allowed me to learn from that.”
He was asked if he had discussed the situation with Randy Lerner.
“I talk to Randy all the time about a lot of things but my focus is on what we need to do,” he said. “What I believe is anybody who can help us to be successful, I’m open to. We’re always looking to improve.”
Wildcat Use: Mangini said the Browns will continue the ‘Wildcat’ package to some extent as the season goes on. He said the coaching staff talked about its use during the bye week.
“That was a component of it,” he said. “We’ve been running it throughout the season. It’s a good package and it will be based on how the team plays it.”