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Browns LB Nate Orchard ready to cut it loose

In front of the entire team Wednesday, coach Mike Pettine called for the Cleveland Browns front seven to set the tone Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Pettine's message was to the entire group of defensive linemen and linebackers, but it hit particularly close to one of its members.

Nate Orchard.

An injury to Scott Solomon pushed the second-round pick from Utah in the lineup, and he's seen a fair share of playing time for a rookie. Orchard's averaging 19.3 snaps in three career NFL games and saw a career high last week at San Diego. In three weeks of play, though, Orchard has just two tackles and has yet to collect a sack.

Cleveland wants to see more heat from the pass rushing specialist, and it wants to see it soon. 

"Nate is getting better each week," Pettine said. "We just want him to cut it loose a little bit more. Sometimes when a guy gets out there, he gets afraid to make a mistake and that slows him down a little bit where they are thinking too much. Pick your aiming point and go."

"I just gotta' not think so much – just go out and play ball," Orchard said in the locker room Thursday. "I like to diagnose kind of what's going on the field, my responsibilities, my teammates' responsibility. I just gotta go out and play ball."

Part of it is the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Orchard was used to being on the field every single snap while dominating the Pac-12 for the Utes. Another part is getting over the mental hurdle and rookie jitters of NFL football. And another part is finally making that one big play and letting his confidence blossom. 

Teammate Paul Kruger can relate. Also a second-round pick from Utah, Kruger rode the pine and played special teams for the Baltimore Ravens during his rookie season in 2009. Baltimore's defense was clearly stacked, but Kruger only finished the year making 11 tackles.

"It can be so difficult to come into this league and have immediate success as a rookie," Kruger said. "It's still football, but you're forced to think on an entirely different level while also trying to make plays."

While outside linebackers coach Brian Fleury continues to sculpt Orchard, his unit will likely see the return of the player nicknamed Bonesaw:  Solomon.

Promoted by the team late last season after standing out on the practice squad, Solomon forced fumbles and clobbered quarterbacks against the Panthers and Ravens to end the 2014 season, spawning hope for a bright future. Tough luck bit the 26-year-old Week 1 against the Jets, though, when he sprained his ankle on the second play of the game.

There's a notion in the building that Solomon's Play Like a Brown mentality could create a snowball effect within the defense and finally help slow down slippery running backs.

"Just trying to do everything I can," Solomon said.

"We've got to go out and be dogs," Orchard said. "We've got to bring our A game."

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