It was Sunday morning at the Cleveland Browns team hotel on the outskirts of Buffalo. Rookie cornerback Pierre Desir's phone was buzzing. He was puzzled.
It was Browns defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley on the line.
"Get your mind right Pierre and get ready: You're active today," said Desir's coach.
For the first time in his NFL career, Desir would throw on his No. 26 Browns jersey and run out of the tunnel with his teammates.
"It was awesome," Desir said in the locker room Monday. "It felt good to be out there with the guys; finally warming up. I was excited and enjoying every moment of it."
The Bills don't use many spread formations, so Desir's playing time was solely on special teams, where he covered kickoffs. But this Bills game was a big stepping stone for the 24-year-old to earn more playing time in the near future.
There is a reason the Browns drafted Desir in the fourth round. The Division II player from Lindenwood University won the inaugural Cliff Harris award, honoring the nation's top small-college defensive player. The 6-foot-2 cornerback flashed potential in both the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, where he shot up NFL draft boards.
Coach Mike Pettine has long suggested 2014 would be a "redshirt" year for the raw Desir. The transition from covering D-II opponents to the likes of Sammy Watkins would take time.
Desir has played an instrumental role during practice all season long. Because of his lengthy frame, the Browns use him in unique places on the scout team to replicate important players on opposing teams. He lives with his head buried in his iPad studying opposing offenses and memorizing tendencies.
"I will do whatever I can do to help the team. Anything," Desir said.
Since first meeting Desir in May, reporters covering the Browns have known one of the cornerback's strengths to be his intelligence. Desir has done a solid job of absorbing the culture Pettine has created in Berea and implementing it into the way he approaches his job.
Losing to the Bills wasn't fun. But Cleveland has no choice but to move on, and move on quickly.
"We don't get too high or too low after a win or a loss," said Desir. "We know what we can do. We know what we can control. We're only thinking about the Colts and we are looking for a win."
Video: Veteran offensive lineman talks about the offense and the quarterback situation
*November Nuggets *
- The Browns went 3-2 in the month.
- Here's where the Browns head into the month of December ranked: Passing offense (12th, 248.7 yards per game); rushing offense (14th, 113.9 ypg); passing offense (8th, 227.9 ypg rushing defense (29th; 132.5 ypg)
- Cleveland blocked two field goals in the month and deflected another punt in a win against Tampa Bay. Joel Bitonio's season-saving tackle on a Devin Hester return in Atlanta highlighted what was arguably the team's strongest month from special teams all season.
- Terrance West had the most rushing yards of his career in November (248).
- Isaiah Crowell caught three passes for 45 yards in November. More "Crow" involved in the passing game could keep the offense flying down the field.
- Brian Hoyer was sacked 10 times in November; He was sacked a combined 10 times in September and October.
- Andrew Hawkins averaged a season-high 15.5 yards per reception in the month on 16 catches, 248 yards and one touchdown.
- Jim Dray posted 117 yards in November compared to 118 in September and October combined.
- Desmond Bryant was a monster in November – 28 tackles and three sacks. He had 14 tackles and one sack in September and October.
- Paul Kruger's 17 tackles in November were a season-high for any month. He also collected three sacks and has eight on the season.
- Craig Robertson led the team in tackles in November with 41.
- Donte Whitner's 29 tackles in November were a season-high for any month. He also added his first interception of the season against Tampa Bay and a subsequent 54-yard return.
- All three of Joe Haden's interceptions this season came in November. He also defended nine passes in the month. Yesterday, we wrote why he possibly could be the hottest cornerback in the NFL right now.