BEREA, OHIO (AP) - Just like that, the Cleveland Browns‘ defense got a whole lot bigger, badder and bulkier.
Shaun Rogers came back.
The mammoth nose tackle, who missed training camp and all four exhibition games while recovering from a leg injury sustained last season that required surgery, returned to practice Monday. Browns coach Eric Mangini said there’s a chance the 6-foot-4, 350-pounder could play in Sunday’s season opener at Tampa Bay.
After spending most of the past month riding a stationary bike or stretching on the side as his teammates went through summer two-a-days, Rogers returned to the field as the Browns began installing their game plan for the Buccaneers.
During the 30-minute period open to reporters, Rogers did agility drills and No. 92 flattened a few blocking dummies with powerful swipes of his massive arms.
Mangini said Rogers will be brought along gradually this week, and that he will work at both nose tackle and defensive end. When Rogers missed the final five games last season, backup Ahtyba Rubin filled in and played well as the Browns ended the year with four straight wins.
“Rubin has earned the right to play and Rubin will play,” Mangini said. “He has done an exceptional job. I really have enjoyed watching his growth and seeing him develop _ not just as a player but as a pro. He’s earned the right to play so that’s a good thing because Shaun does have the ability to play nose tackle and defensive end.
“To be able to mix guys in at different spots gives you depth, it gives you a chance to spell people during the course of a game and it also gives you some versatility in terms of matchups that you want against your opponents’ offensive linemen.”
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Rogers missed much of training camp last season. But when the season kicked off, he was his usual dominant self, overpowering guards and centers and blocking field goals and extra points before breaking his leg in a November game at Cincinnati. The team has never revealed specifics about Rogers‘ injury.
Last week, he avoided a possible NFL suspension for an offseason felony weapons charge, when police said he carried a loaded handgun into Hopkins Airport. Instead, commissioner Roger Goodell fined him and docked Rogers a one-game paycheck _ roughly $400,000 _ for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The off-field incident _ Rogers was ordered to enter a diversion program to avoid a trial _ didn’t help his reputation as being troublesome and selfish. He was acquired in a 2008 trade with Detroit, where Rogers lacked consistency and was accused of loafing.
“I’ve gotten to know Shaun over the last couple of years and he hasn’t been in a situation where the team has won a lot of games and that’s something that’s important to him and that’s something that’s important to me,” Mangini said before practice. “Now the things that we talk about are how do we achieve that together. What’s that like and what goes into that whole process?View Entire Story
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