BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was named the Browns 2011 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award by his teammates on Wednesday. The award is given annually to a member of each team who exemplifies the qualities of courage, compassion, commitment and community service.
"There is nobody more deserving of the award as D'Qwell," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "I have gained a strong appreciation for D'Qwell. He has been a great leader behind the scenes for us and done a great job. He could be the recipient of a lot of awards as far as I'm concerned."
Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron echoed Shurmur's comments.
"I wasn't part of the last two seasons, but (Jackson) being injured is not something I relate to and hope I don't have to," Jauron said. "He's an exceptional person. He is a very dedicated professional and a very good player."
Jackson missed the final 10 games of the 2009 season and all of 2010 with two different pectoral muscle tears. Jackson has returned in a big way in 2011. He currently leads the team in tackles with 112 and is second in the NFL. He also has 2.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one interception and one forced fumble, while starting all 12 games. He was the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
Jackson was touched by the award.
"It definitely means a lot," Jackson said. "Coming from in house and receiving the Ed Block Award. It's a testament from having a rough start, moving forward and it's a great honor.
"I'm not big on personal accolades but I am honored."
Shurmur said that Jackson brings a lot to the Browns.
"He's very in tune for what it takes to prepare and get ready to play this game," Shurmur said. "He has a pulse of our team and our locker room."
Jackson is in his sixth season with the Browns after being a second-round draft choice of the Browns in 2006. He missed the two seasons after leading the NFL in tackles in 2008 with 188 in 2008. Jackson had 20 tackles against the Titans on Dec. 7, 2008.
Jackson is a bit undersized at 6-0, 240-pounds for the prototypical NFL middle linebacker, but he has been one of the most active and dependable players on the defense this season. Jackson signed a one-year contract for the 2011 season and can be a free agent after this season if the Browns don't tag him or sign him to a contract extension.
Shurmur said he definitely wants Jackson to stay in Cleveland.
"Absolutely," he said. "He's a tremendous player, I would love to have him here (long term)."
Colt's Return: QB Colt McCoy made his NFL debut against the Steelers on Oct. 17, 2010 at Heinz Field after Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace suffered high ankle sprains. The Browns lost 28-10, but McCoy was 23-of-33 for 281 yards. He threw a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran four times for 22 yards and was sacked six times.
Shurmur was asked if he thought if that experience would help McCoy.
"You look at your first start against the Steelers," Shurmur said. "I'm sure that experience will help him this week."
McCoy said he learned in his debut against the Steelers.
"It was the first game I played," he said. "I wouldn't have wanted (to play my first game) any other way. I want to go against the best."
McCoy said he hasn't thought much about that game.
"I can't even think back that far," he said. "I've come a long way since then. It's a new offense and that is in the way distant (past)."
Shurmur was asked if these final three games within the AFC North will determine McCoy's future as the Browns quarterback.
"I wouldn't say that," Shurmur said. "I am going to hold off on evaluations until the end of the season. Right now, he's our quarterback and he's battling right next to me.
"It will factor in because you have to win your division because that gets you into the playoffs, but we will need to look at the whole picture."
Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin was asked of his impressions of McCoy's debut last season and the present.
"I thought he represented himself pretty well," Tomlin said in a conference call. "He's pretty tough (to fool) for a young guy."
The Browns held the Ravens to just three sacks, even though McCoy was banged around. This week, the Steelers bring another wave of pass rushers.
"They line up a little different," Shurmur said. "There were times the other night where I thought the protection was pretty good.
"(The Steelers) have a terrific front ," he said. "When you compare the Pittsburgh front, they come at you. They can create the same type of damage."
Injury Update: Besides LB Quinton Spears (hamstring) and DB T.J. Ward (foot) being ruled out for Thursday's game with the Steelers, DB Mike Adams (shoulder), RB Peyton Hillis (hip) and OL Tony Pashos (ankle) are questionable. QB Colt McCoy (knee) is probable.
"There's nothing new on the injury report," Shurmur said. "(Colt) will be out there and so will Peyton. They're both a little sore, but they are good to go."
OL Artis Hicks was excused from practice for personal reasons.
The Steelers had 21 players listed as questionable on Monday, including QB Ben Roethlisberger (right thumb), LB James Farrior (thumb), LB James Harrison (back), RB Rashard Mendenhall (back), S Troy Polamalu (knee) and LB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring).
Chasing the Steelers: During Phil Savage's tenure with the Browns, he said everything the Browns were trying to do was to beat the Steelers. Shurmur was asked if that was part of his mindset.
"I don't know about mimicking, but I know we are trying to get better at everything we do," Shurmur said. "Pittsburgh is strong and has found a formula that works for them. It's important we build a formula that works for us."
Shurmur said he has talked about to the team about the rivalry of the Steelers.
"I have mentioned it and I think we all understand the AFC North rivalry," he said. "I think the most important thing is, it's the next game."
Shurmur was asked if beating the Steelers would erase some of the bad taste from the Browns season.
"Beating Pittsburgh is something we need to do," he said. "Any win takes a sour taste out of our mouths."
LeBeau vs. Jauron: Despite defensive coordinator Dick Jauron being a coach in the NFL for 27 years and prior to that a player for 9 seasons, he still considers Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau his mentor.
"I really admire him," Jauron said. "I played for him and he's been a mentor. He's as good as it gets."
"I don't think they've (hit a) plateau," he said. "They are getting better. It's not always obvious what a guard does."
Shurmur was asked how important it is for at least one of them to be a long-term answer.
"We'd like to see them both become long-term solutions," he said. "At this point we have a few games left, but I don't think anybody's (hit their) plateau."
What Happened?: Jauron was asked what happened as the Ravens rushed for 290 yards against the Browns.
"We clearly didn't play the run the way we wanted to," Jauron said. "We expected to play much better. If anything good came out of the game, we kept them out of the end zone for the most part."
Jauron said the blame is shared, not just on the defensive line.
"Everybody took their turn, but they weren't alone," he said. "We clearly knew the team was extremely talented."
Jauron said the mistakes that led to the big day rushing for the Ravens are correctable.
"It is teachable," he said. "It's not easy. It's hard to stay in the gap, but it's definitely correctable."
LB D'Qwell Jackson said he's sure the Steelers will try and copy what the Ravens did.
"It lingers a little," he said. "(The Steelers) will be focused on runs like we gave up last week."
Jackson said the Browns welcome a new chance to stop the run.
"It's impossible to have a perfect game," he said. "We've made the corrections and have prepared for it. It's a new opportunity with Pittsburgh."
Jabaal's Year: DL Jabaal Sheard leads the Browns with 5.5 sacks and is seventh in the NFL among rookies in sacks. Sheard had the Browns only sack against the Ravens and forced a fumble, as well.
"He had a couple of plays in the run game," Shurmur said. "He battled and I'm sure when you give up that many yards it's a team thing. There are things he can do better. He does a good job rushing the passer and against the run."
The Browns hope Sheard can be a dominating defensive lineman for many years.
"I think Jabaal can be a very disruptive factor in this league."
Jauron said that Sheard is playing the way he was expected.
"He's having a terrific year," he said. "He's certainly met our expectations and we all believe he will just keep getting better. He's played very well for us."
Sheard played at Pitt and was around the Steelers facility often. Mike Tomlin was very complimentary of his play.
"I'm very familiar with him," he said. "He's done a very good job for (the Browns)."