"Joe the Show" has a new twist on his nickname entering his second NFL season.
"I call him showtime," veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey said, "because he's always out there making plays."
Joe Schobert made plenty of plays during his rookie season, but they were mostly relegated to special teams. An outside linebacker in last year's defensive scheme, Schobert played a steady amount during the first half of the season but saw his playing time diminish after the team acquired Pro Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. in a mid-season trade.
Poised to remain a fixture on special teams in 2017, Schobert is competing for legitimate playing time with veteran Tank Carder at the Mike spot in Cleveland's revamped, 4-3. He's listed as a second-team player entering Thursday's preseason opener but the competition is far from over.
The number of plays he's consistently making have been hard to ignore.
"I get a chance to run around a lot more this year and make some checks," Schobert said. "I get to call the defense so a little more responsibility. It has been good."
The team practices on Monday.
Linebackers coach Blake Williams did his homework on Schobert shortly after he arrived in Cleveland earlier this year.
He quickly learned Schobert was Mr. Everything at West High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin. That included basketball and track, sports that showcased the unique athleticism he continues to display, whether it's on the football field or a viral video of him putting a basketball between his legs in the air before dunking.
It's that kind of athleticism Williams, after reviewing Schobert's college tape and rookie year, viewed as unfulfilled at a position such as 3-4 outside linebacker. Schobert's offseason program, which focused on reducing overall weight while increasing strength, made it even more of a no-brainer to shift him to the middle.
"Compared to what I was doing last year, it would be more like I am a D-End this year in this defense," Schobert said. "I'm definitely glad to be off the ball and behind the line to be able to run the plays down rather than taking on (OL) Shon Coleman in the run game every day."
It's a starting position that won't be handed to him.
Carder, one of the longest tenured Browns, has been waiting years for an opportunity like the one he's embraced at this year's training camp. He's been praised throughout the offseason program and into training camp and has kept a steady hand on the field alongside Kirksey and Jamie Collins.
All Schobert can do is keep making plays and keep soaking up the veteran knowledge Carder is providing.
"Playing behind Tank, he gets to learn from a veteran, a guy who's been here six years, a guy who has been with the coaching changes, wins, losses. He has a great vet to learn from," Kirksey said. "He's keeping quiet, staying in the classroom, learning. He's a very intelligent guy."