This week’s trade that sent Braylon Edwards to New York brought several things back to the Browns. One, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey who was the starting receiver opposite of Jerricho Cotchery in New York. The Browns also received two draft picks, one of which could be as high as a second-rounder in the event that Edwards picks up those gloves from the Andre Johnson commercial. But the Browns also received a 25-year old linebacker by the name of Jason Trusnik.
Trusnik was the only undrafted free agent that Eric Mangini personally phoned following the 2007 NFL Draft. If there was ever a time where the term “Mangini guy” could be used, this is it. And given Trusnik’s make-up, it may not be a bad thing. When Mangini was relieved of his duties follwoing last season, Trusnik was one of the more outspoken players on the team.
“It’s tough, with Eric bringing me in [that] year. I thought I had a bond with him. He’s a real good guy. … It’s never an easy thing, whether it’s one of your teammates or it’s a coach, it’s never easy. For a moment, there is some emotion behind it.”
And while he may appear to be just a “special teams” player on the outside, the inside is a kid who grew up just south of Cleveland, Ohio in the town of Macedonia. He attended Ohio Northern University, twice earning All-American honors. When asked what it meant to be coming back to Ohio, Trusnik couldn’t be happier.
“It’s coming back home to the Browns, who I rooted for since I was a little kid, but to be back here with Mangini and also my family, it’s nice.”
Not many players would like to leave a team that appears to be in a good position to play into the post season. And if you base your opinion on what the media has been saying, not many players would want to leave a team coached by Rex Ryan to come to a team coached by Eric Mangini. Regardless of the perceived consensus these days, Trusnik appears to still be a bit of a contrarian on that matter.
“I like [Eric Mangini]. He is a great coach. He knows what he’s talking about. We will get after it a little bit on defense and I am excited to see what happens.”
As was the case in New York, Trusnik will be primarily used on special teams, forming a pretty formidable tandem with the hard hitting Blake Costanzo. Most linebackers would be put off with this role, but similar to Costanzo, Trusnik cannot wait to suit up for the Browns during kickoffs and returns.
“My role in the past was special teams and I love playing special teams, all of them. I am excited to get with coach (Brad) Seely and get out there and play for him and do my thing.”
But will there be much of an adjustment period for Trusnik, or can we expect an impact as early as this Sunday?
“I think knowing both these guys and the way that they approach their preparation, whatever they don’t have or don’t feel comfortable with, they’ll make sure that they have that stuff by the time we get to Sunday,” claimed Eric Mangini.
On a team that can ill afford to take plays off or not capitalize as often as possible, the special teams have become a very integral part of the Browns. Having a return man like Joshua Cribbs gets the most visibility for a bevy of reasons. While Trusnik has the capabilities to fill in at inside linebacker, his snaps will likely be few and far between. But in a game where field position is also important, having players like Jason Trusnik on your side can prove to be even more vital.
When Mangini was let go last season, Trusnik said “”I’ve always said things work out the way they’re supposed to and what’s meant to be is meant to be.” Hopefully, being reunited with the coach that gave him a chance in the NFL is what “was meant to be.” And here’s hoping that his addition to the special teams gives the Browns that much more of an advantage on game day.
Lord knows we need it.