BEREA, Ohio--One of the bright spots thus far early in the preseason and season has been the play of rookie Carl Nassib.
On this week's depth chart for the Ravens game, Nassib has been promoted to being listed as the starter ahead of John Hughes at defensive end. Meanwhile, Jamie Meder has moved ahead of Xavier Cooper at the other defensive end spot. Hue Jackson said that is not by accident, as Nassib's play has earned the start.
“Direct result of a performance," Jackson said of Nassib. "We do not really give anybody nothing. You have to earn it, and he is playing well. He really is. He is doing some good things, and I think any player that plays the game the way we want them to play should be rewarded for that so he is. He is one of the starters on our football team, and I always look forward to watching him play because he plays with a passion, energy and tenacity that I think you have to play this game with.”
Nassib, who was drafted in the third-round (65th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft picked up his first NFL sack in the season opener last week against the Eagles. Nassib led the Browns in the preseason with two sacks and was voted the winner of the Maurice Bassett Award for being the top rookie in training camp. He finished the game with three tackles, a sack and a pass broken up.
Nassib was listed on the depth chart as the backup last week but started due to the Browns opening in their nickel package. He played 70 percent of the snaps (54 of 77), which was the most among the defensive linemen and was one of three rookies to record a sack in Week 1. Nassib has been nominated for the Pepsi Rookie of the Week award.
Nassib is the third defensive rookie draft pick to join the starting lineup, along with linebackers Emmanuel Ogbah and Joe Schobert.
Nassib said he was excited to being named a starter.
“It means a lot," he said. "I’m always trying to do my best, and I just hope that I’m continuing to improve and I continue to make strides and be the best player that I can.”
Nassib led the nation in 2015 at Penn State with 15.5 sacks, including 10 consecutive games with a sack, which is the longest streak for a Penn State player since the NCAA starting counting sacks as a statistic in 2000.
Nassib was asked if he thought he would have had as much of an impact this early in his career.
“I didn’t really have any expectations," Nassib said. "I had goals and standards to which I am willing to hold myself to, and that was just not worrying about what you guys think or anybody else thinks and just working my hardest and competing. That is pretty much it.”
Nassib has been able to knock down passes in last week's regular season opener, as well as in the preseason. Nassib was asked where his tenacity comes from.
“Lots of things," Nassib said. "Just being conditioned and really just giving it all because I’m just trying to play as fast as I can for as long as I can until I drop.”
Jackson likes the tenacity that Nassib shows in his play.
“Oh yeah, that is what he is," Jackson said. "He has been that way since I met him. He is a full-speed football player. He likes playing the game. That is the one thing about being a pro football player – the consistency of doing things the same way all the time – Carl is that kind of guy. He is – obviously, as I said yesterday – a starter on our football team. I’m glad we have him.”
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton has also been pleased with Nassib and likes his fiery personality on the field.
“He has been that way since he has been here," Horton said. "You learn their personalities as they go along. Very reserved at first when he first came in. Now, his dry, witty sense of humor is starting to come out. He is starting to talk to me more, and that is how you learn their personalities because I am not in the meeting room with them full time.
"He is totally different on the field than he is in the room," Horton said. "We like what he brings – passion and energy. We are going to start showcasing him. He will probably start commanding double teams and start watching him. They will all start seeing what he can do and how he plays all out all the time. I was very encouraged by him and obviously, very encouraged that he is going to get more playing time and more snaps. That is what we are looking for. We are trying to develop some young guys and see what they can do. It will be dictated by how well they play on the field, obviously. He has earned more playing time and he will get more playing time.”
Shelton Coming On: Hue Jackson said he's pleased with the growth of last year's top pick Danny Shelton.
“Oh yeah because he is starting to be dominant up front," Jackson said. "We know he is a big guy. At the same time, you have to use your athletic ability and use your hands and your legs to push people. He is starting to do that. He is starting to really come on.”
Shelton had four tackles in the season opener.
Legend of Jim Brown: The Browns will celebrate some of the team's greats this weekend, including the induction of LB Dick Ambrose and DB Thom Darden into the Browns Legends program on Saturday. They will also be honored in a halftime ceremony during the home opener against the Ravens.
Ambrose played for the Browns from 1975-84 and is now a judge in Cleveland, while Darden played for the Browns from 1972-74, 1976-81.
Before the game, the Browns will also unveil a statue in Pro Football Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown's honor, commissioned by Jimmy and Dee Haslam.
Jackson said that Brown has been more and more involved with the players and considers him the best of all time.
The Browns will induct Ambrose and Darden into the Cleveland Browns Legends program during a dinner ceremony in FirstEnergy Stadium’s BMW City Club on Saturday (6-8:30 p.m.), alongside a strong contingent of former Browns coaches, players and staff, prior to the on-field tribute with the Dawg Pound on Sunday
One Man Short: Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor admitted the Browns had just 10 players on the field when they attempted the fake punt against the Eagles that resulted in a six-yard loss when RB Duke Johnson, Jr. took the snap and was immediately dropped.
Everybody Up: The Browns will have all 53 players available to them for Sunday's game as all of the players practiced this week, with the exception of QB Robert Griffin III. DB Marcus Burley (groin) and DB Derrick Kindred (ankle) practicing fully on Friday.