BEREA—Having lived in the outskirts of St. Louis throughout his high school and collegiate years, Pierre Desir is well-acquainted with the venue to which the Browns will travel for their game against the Rams this Sunday.
“I went to a couple of games at the Edward Jones Dome,” Desir said. “I worked there a couple of times as well.”
In an effort to raise funds for his daughter’s dance group, Desir worked the counter on various occassions at concession stands around the stadium, selling goodies to fans, as the Rams played on the turf.
Though he did have aspirations in football, Desir never believed he’d work at the venue as an NFL player.
“I was thinking about selling all those nachos and hot dogs at the time,” Desir said. “I definitely wanted to play there. I didn’t get the opportunity in high school.”
Years after working for his daughter's dance class at the Dome, Desir is just days away from proving himself wrong.
Expected to start at corner for Clevleand, with Joe Haden still in the NFL’s concussion protocol, Desir will return to the Edward R. Jones Dome on Sunday, and will do so as an NFL athlete.
“It’s a great feeling,” Desir said. “(It will be) good to be back in my hometown.”
The Browns may be the visiting team at the Dome on Sunday, but Desir’s presence may cause for a bit of a home field advantage, as friends and family plan to attend the game in droves and create a miniature “Dawg Pound” in St. Louis.
“I am definitely going to have my family, cousins, friends, some high school teachers actually, and some coaches,” Desir said. “There will be a couple of Browns jerseys in the Rams’ dome.”
With so many family members and memories flooding the Dome on Sunday afternoon, Desir will still be expected to perform to the caliber he’s shown over his first couple of starts this season.
Browns head coach Mike Pettine has full faith in Desir’s ability to do so, as the corner has shown nothing but the best of focus thus far.
“He’s shown that it’s not too big for him,” Pettine said. “He’s gone out there and he’s taken what he’s worked on in practice, he’s got that to the field. He hasn’t been intimidated.”
He may not be intimidated by the bright lights of Sunday afternoons, but Desir is certainly not perfect.
In just his second NFL season, Desir has shown that he can be vulnerable when he doesn’t control receivers at the line of scrimmage— a problem that Pettine believes is fixable with a change in mindset.
“When Pierre gets in trouble sometimes, it’s that he doesn’t trust his technique,” Pettine said. “When he’s had some issues, it’s been a result of him not being able to do that… He knows he has to trust it, and for the most part, he does.”
Desir was in complete agreement that it’s a lack of confidence and trust that plagues him more so than anything else, which is why he’s working on it consistently.
“It is just trusting my technique, making sure that I use my hands,” Desir said. “(I have to make) sure that i have good feet to go along with that and not get frustrated if it doesn’t work out on one play.”
If Desir can control his guy at the line, there’s little doubt that he’ll again earn the praise of his coach, who’s already doled out love for the Lindenwood University graduate this season.
“We’re very pleased with the production that Pierre has given us this year,” Pettine said. “When he’s been in there or (DB Johnson) Bademosi has been in there, the want-to is definitely there. Those guys are very competitive and they’ve done a good job filling in.”
No matter what he does on Sunday, the many family members and friends in the St. Louis crowd will be proud of Desir.
That does not mean, however, that Desir will be at all complacent when the ball is kicked at the stadium in which he grew up.
“I know I still have a job to do,” Desir said. “We will celebrate after [the game].”
For all of your Browns news, updates and analysis from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.