Finally, when it was over, Shaun Rogers -- all 6-foot-5, 360-pounds of him -- could rest. He could relax both his mind and his body for the first time on a sticky-hot fall day near the beach. Big guys and beaches get along together about as well as bleach and blue jeans. But Rogers knew his team needed an effort like the one he laid out at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
Finally, when it was over, Shaun Rogers -- all 6-foot-5, 360-pounds of him -- could rest. He could relax both his mind and his body for the first time on a sticky-hot fall day near the beach.
Big guys and beaches get along together about as well as bleach and blue jeans. But Rogers knew his team needed an effort like the one he laid out at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
So when the Browns hung on and after the ball bounced their way and out of Jacksonville tight end Matt Jones’ hands, Rogers put his left knee on the grass and rested. Maybe it left a crater.
Cleveland inched closer to even Sunday after the Browns dug themselves a hole big enough to bury Rogers and the rest of his teammates in it to start the season. Their 23-17 win didn’t come without hesitation. It didn’t come without struggle.
Heck, the struggle began in a locker room in Washington D.C. when tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. called out his general manager and the entire organization. Winslow made himself a distraction. He made it about him.
Rogers provided the example Sunday of how not to. CBS play-by-play voice Dick Enberg said Rogers’ nine-tackle day that included a sack, three QB hurries and a blocked field goal, earned him some Pro Bowl votes. It probably did.
Rogers didn’t care.
“I’m just trying to win a game,” Rogers said. “It’s not about those votes right now. It’s about wins and losses for us. We’re trying to put ourselves in a position to get to the playoffs. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Play after huffing and puffing play, he brought it.
He brought it when he blocked a Jacksonville field goal and then chased down the loose ball 25 yards down the field. The big fella took a spot, OK, maybe two spots, on Cleveland’s bench and bellied up next to the oxygen tank.
“You know, that dude is an animal,” said Jaguars quarterback David Garrard, who, at 245 pounds isn’t your typical QB. “We had a few plays designed to try and use his strength against him, and he just put more strength into it. ... He’s an animal.
“He’s the biggest guy on the field, and might be the biggest guy in the whole league.”
Big isn’t always better. The Browns needed Rogers to be big and better Sunday.
The former Pro Bowler, signed by Cleveland to shore up its interior line against the run, had much to be proud of Sunday.
“I’m (most) proud of a team win,” Rogers said. “I’m proud the scoreboard read the Cleveland Browns win. That’s all I’m proud of.”
I wonder if Kellen Winslow Jr. felt the same way Sunday night. Wonder if he felt that way at any point. Winslow probably has legitimate beefs with the Browns and the team’s staph infection problems.
But some of what Winslow expressed, and his teammates have agreed, was rooted in frustration. Frustration from watching the team win without him. Frustration from not becoming a force this season like he was last.
Rogers? He was proud of a team win.
“He has a motor and when it’s geared up and turned to full speed, I don’t know very many guys who can block him,” Garrard said. “When he wanted to force his will, you could see what he can do.”
That’s a lot of will to enforce.
But dig this about Rogers: He is a man of few words, especially when it comes to himself.
These are the days when the Browns need that kind of player. These are the days when everyone needs that player.
Rogers’ blocked field goal was a huge play in Sunday’s game. It forced Jacksonville to try for a touchdown at the end of the game, instead of positioning itself for a game-tying field goal.
And it was the 12th time in his career that he blocked a field goal or punt. His secret? There isn’t one, unless dinner counts.
“There’s a lot of big guys in this league. I wouldn’t say it’s technique,” Rogers said. “I just happened to be the guy who got my paw up there. It’s a collective effort.”
Much was made of Rogers before he came to Cleveland. He’s always been one of the best nose tackles in the league. Some have described him as a malcontent, a player who hasn’t played his best football since he made consecutive Pro Bowls in 2005-06.
Some have suggested coming to Cleveland has rejuvenated him.
“I always go back to the statement that I never thought I played bad football,” Rogers said. “I’m happy to be here.”
The Browns went through a weird week, but that’s becoming the norm in an odd season. Now they’ve won three of their last four.
Sunday, the Browns watched a 360-pounder bring it every play. They watched him set a tone and an example.
“We tried to emphasize we needed this one to stay in the pack in the AFC and we needed to win,” Head Coach Romeo Crennel said. “Hopefully they took that to heart and they keep it at heart for the rest of the season.”
When Rogers is the heartbeat of the Browns, that’s a large pulse. Big enough and loud enough to carry a team.
Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org