Since that first day with the team during rookie minicamp, Fort has proven to be a playmaker. With injuries to middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, as well as outside backers
With the added responsibilities in the Browns’ defense, Fort has continued to impress the coaching staff.
“I think he’s had an excellent camp and when we left in June, I was looking forward to him playing well in training camp because, as I’ve said before, when linebackers put their pads on, then, they start to separate,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “I think when he started wearing his pads and playing the game for real, he even showed me more. He did a good job in the scrimmage snaps. He also did an outstanding job on special teams.
“I mentioned it to our defense. I talked about it as a team, we need to catch the football more and better. The other night and at practice here, instead of the balls just getting deflected, you see our guys finish the play -- if it is a bad throw -- with an interception. I like to think you get what you emphasize.”
Fort is no stranger to making plays. It is a skill he honed during his four-year career at the University of Northern Iowa.
Fort started 34 of 50 games he played in for Northern Iowa, and finished the 2011 season with a Football Championship Subdivision leading 184 total tackles. He averaged 14.15 tackles-per-game last season and was later selected the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and the FCS National Defensive Player of the Year by The College Sporting News and College Sports Madness.
He finished his career with 356 total tackles, the fifth-most in University of Northern Iowa history.
“I think he’s got very good instincts; he’s got the right size, the skill and ability to play the position,” Shurmur said. “He’s got a kind of powerful build and again, you have to have good instincts to be a linebacker and play on all three downs. I think he has that. Anybody that lines up as a four, five or six linebacker has to be somewhat flexible. I think he can play out or in.”