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John Greco returns for rivalry game

Posted Dec 28, 2013

Cleveland Browns offensive lineman John Greco returned to the practice field this week in order to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday.

Cleveland Browns offensive lineman John Greco suffered a knee injury in a 27-26 loss at the New England Patriots on Dec. 8, and had been unable to practice since being helped off the field at Gillette Stadium.

That had been the case for six straight practices until this week, when Greco returned to the field in preparation for Sunday’s AFC North Division game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.

“I saw great progress, and I’m right where I want to be, and hopefully, things work out this weekend,” Greco said. “If I was hurt and I knew that I was putting myself at risk or hurting the team by not going out there healthy, I wouldn’t be playing. We’ll go out there and if I feel good, I’ll play. There’s no reason for me to sit out if I’m healthy. I want to help the team win. I don’t care what the record is.”

Playing in the Browns-Steelers game is particularly important to Greco. He grew up in the border town of Boardman, Ohio, a suburb of Youngstown that has ardent fan bases for both teams.

“Growing up, I was kind of neutral,” Greco insisted. “I wasn’t a Browns or Steelers fan, but the area was huge. It was like Ohio State-Michigan, but on a larger scale. I saw that there was a lot of heartache and celebrating.

“It’s a big rivalry. They’re going to play tough. We’re going to play tough. No matter what time of year it is, no matter what’s on the scoreboard, everybody’s going to play hard. Just being around it, I knew how special it was and how important it was to the people in that area.”

While the Browns enter the game at 4-11 and out of the playoff picture, the Steelers need a win, as well as some help in the form of losses from the Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens to make the postseason.

With that knowledge, Greco expects the game to be a physical contest.

“No matter what the record is, winless or undefeated, it’s going to be a tough game,” Greco said. “We’re not really looking at that. They’re going to be playing hard regardless, but they do have something on the line.

“(Even though) we’re not going to the playoffs or have a chance, we’re going to be playing hard too. It’s a Pittsburgh-Cleveland traditional rivalry, and it’s going to be a hard-fought game.”