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Local hopeful focuses on football

Posted May 11, 2013

Jamaine Cook grew up in Middleburg Heights, but is focused on his football career, not a homecoming celebration.

Jamaine Cook has come home, but it is more of a business trip than a celebration for the Middleburg Heights native.

Cook, a running back who signed with the Browns as a rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft, played his prep football at Midpark High School, whose home field is the George Finnie Stadium, right down the road from his new team’s Berea training facility. But instead of enjoying being back in the Cleveland area after four years at Youngstown State, Cook is looking to continue playing the game he loves.

“It’s great, but at the same time, I don’t want to let everyone that I know around here be a distraction because I’m here,” said Cook, who grew up a Browns fan. “I’ve got a goal and I want to accomplish it. I’m here to work.

“I’m just worried about getting through minicamp, first and foremost because I want to accomplish one thing at a time because there’s a lot being dumped on us right now. I’m just worried about finishing minicamp strong.”

Cook was one of 18 undrafted free agents signed by the Browns two weeks ago. He participated in his first NFL practice Friday as the Browns opened up their three-day rookie minicamp.

“I had to get used to the tempo,” Cook said. “The tempo was a little bit up-paced at first, but once we got going, the flow went great. I think I had a good first practice, a great first practice actually. I didn’t mess up any of my assignments or anything like that. They dumped a lot on us yesterday, and I think I did fairly well with everything.

“The learning curve is pretty fast. It’s nothing like college. They don’t baby you, at all. They give you seven runs and seven passes, and it was 36 pages long. It’s tough, but I put in hard work last night, stayed up a little bit studying, got some rest, and made it happen.”

Cook signed with the Browns after a standout career at Youngstown State. His 4,052 rushing yards and 20 100-yard rushing games were the second-highest marks in school history. He also scored 39 touchdowns on 811 career carries, and rushed for at least 1,200 yards and 11 scores in each of his three seasons as the Penguins’ full-time starting running back.

In 2012, Cook’s final year with the Penguins, he rushed for 1,279 yards and 15 touchdowns on 279 carries.

He returned to the Berea area with the focus to “just come out here and compete, show the coaches what I have.”

“They told me I’m going to come in here and compete,” Cook said. “Nothing is going to be handed to me, and it’s going to start on special teams. If I’m better, then, I’m going to get a spot. That’s what they told me. I’m going to come in here and work and compete. All I expect is a fair shot, and that’s fair enough for me. At the end of the day, I can live with myself knowing I got a fair shot, put in the work and made it happen.

“I had a couple nice runs today, and had coaches say nice things to me, so that’s always motivating. (I want) to come out here and just work. I won’t stop saying that. That’s my expectation, to come out here and work, compete, and that’s the stamp of Jamaine Cook, just working and competing. That’s what I want to be known as, and that’s what I want these coaches to know me as.”