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Browns DL Billy Winn makes big final push for roster spot

Billy Winn said he won't sleep tonight. Tossing and turning has actually become a nightly ritual the last few days for the Cleveland Browns defensive lineman. 

In a final effort to prove he belongs on the 53-man roster, Winn played with his heart on his sleeve Thursday night in Chicago against the Bears, registering two tackles and blowing up a few other plays in the backfield. 

Will it be enough? 

"There's only a few spots left on this team," Winn said in the locker room after the 24-0 preseason loss to the Bears, "and I want one of them." 

When the Browns added a bevy of defensive linemen via the draft and free agency back in the spring, Winn's antennas were raised. He knew he would be fighting for his job in the preseason. He knew this day was coming down the pike. 

Some speculated his days would be numbered after an ankle/knee injury pushed him to the sideline at the beginning of training camp. But two veterans, Phil Taylor and Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, were waived on Tuesday, signaling Cleveland's coaching staff is giving Winn more than a fighting chance to hold onto his role. 

Winn has been incessantly analyzing, and sometimes scrutinizing, his every move from practice and the preseason when watching the film on his iPad late at night. 

"There's more pressure this year because our level of competition has gone up so high," Winn said. "The guys that we've brought in are playing lights out. It's going to be hard for these coaches and the guys upstairs to decipher who they want to have on this squad."

A Las Vegas native and Boise State alum, Winn had never been to Ohio before the Browns selected him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. Over the years, he's been a pleasant surprise for the franchise. 

Winn's been counted on the last three years as rotational energy player and spot starter. He can pressure the passer and level running backs. 

And during the time he's become a lovable fixture in the Cleveland community, often mingling with Browns fans at restaurants and Indians and Cavs games. 

"This is where I want to play," Winn said. "These are the fans I want to be around. For Cleveland to take a chance like they did on me in the sixth round -- hopefully they're going to get four years from me." 

Winn will know his fate by Saturday. The Browns cuts are due to the NFL league office by 4 p.m.

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