Injuries are a way of life in the NFL. Everyone knows it. Some years are still considerably worse than others. For the Browns it feels like some decades are worse than others. I’m nervous even thinking about the word “staph” let alone typing it to this day. In the NFL, injuries are a way of life and an opportunity for a player to step up and prove his capability, value, toughness and guts. Then again, for many other teams, the guy stepping up isn’t likely to be a seventh rounder chosen a mere six slots away from “Mr. Irrelevant.” That is the position of the Cleveland Browns this upcoming Sunday with rookie Eric Hagg probably set to start opposite Mike Adams in the defensive secondary.
T.J. Ward and Usama Young both missed practice today and Eric Hagg started with the first team. Hagg is an experienced player from Nebraska and obviously did enough in camp to justify sticking around for the Browns who also added to the unit by signing Usama Young in free agency. That in and of itself is no small feat for a seventh round pick. But the story could still turn out to be a nightmare unless Hagg takes this opportunity and shows something on Sunday other than an ability to chase Steven Jackson toward the end zone.
Hagg should be well-prepared in terms of experience playing in college. He was a leader of the Nebraska defense in his time in college. So, we’ll just have to see. The prospect of playing strong safety with Steven Jackson running at you is probably pretty scary for your first NFL start, but put it in perspective. Jackson will be running for a team that is 1-7 on the season.
As an aside, isn’t it an amazing luxury to have Mike Adams on the team? He has been an invaluable player in terms of backing up at both free safety and cornerback. He continues to get brushed over when it comes to talking about starters, and yet whenever he is called on he seems to make a play. Not bad for an undrafted 30 year-old from Delaware. If Eric Hagg wants some inspiration for his career, he could do worse than to look at the man who could be starting opposite him on Sunday for the Browns.
Here’s hoping it turns out to be a nice story and not a nightmare.