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Maiava continues to improve

Posted Aug 4, 2012

Browns linebacker Kaluka Maiava has continued his development as a professional football player since the team drafted him in 2009.

When the Cleveland Browns selected Kaluka Maiava in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, they drafted a linebacker out of the University of Southern California who was known as a special teams standout.

Since his rookie season, Maiava has shown to be valuable, both on special teams and in the Browns’ base defense.

“Every year, you get better and better,” Maiava said. “You get more confident, just more comfortable with the guys, especially if you’re around the same group. It’s my fourth year; hopefully, my fourth year and hopefully, we put together some wins and a successful season.”

Maiava’s play has not gone unnoticed by the Browns’ coaching staff.

“Kaluka’s obviously a very fine football player,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “He first established himself as a special teams player and then, he’s very effective in scrimmage downs as well. We anticipate that he’ll be one year better in our scheme and one year better as a player.”

Maiava started just three games in his first two seasons and missed 14 with a knee injury in 2010. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 19, at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Maiava rebounded last year with 24 tackles and a forced fumble, in addition to a career-high 10 special teams tackles. When Scott Fujita suffered a broken hand in a loss at Cincinnati last November, veteran Chris Gocong moved over to the strong side and Maiava started on the weak side of the Browns’ defense.

“No one likes to sit on the bench,” Maiava said. “When your number’s called, you’ve got to go in there and produce for the team, get wins. This is the best I’ve felt since (the injury). It felt good running around. I’ve got the plays, a better understanding of the playbook and we’ve got good competition in the linebacking group and I’m looking forward to the season.”

The competition heated up on Saturday morning when Gocong suffered a season-ending injury to his right Achilles tendon in a full-team drill. Gocong suffered the injury when he jumped up to deflect a pass from Brandon Weeden to tight end Jordan Cameron in the end zone.

In addition to Gocong’s injury, the Browns’ other veteran linebacker, Scott Fujita, was suspended for three games in the offseason for his alleged involvement in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program.

“That’s how football is. Injuries do happen,” Maiava said. “Unfortunately, losing a guy like that and with Fujita and his situation, we’re definitely going to be missing our leaders and we’ve just got to be ready. That’s what you play the game for. If someone goes down, you’ve got to fill the spot in and be positive and produce.”

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