For a brief moment, Ed Reynolds II thought his football career was over before it got a chance to begin. The Browns safety and then-freshman at Stanford suffered a torn ACL and meniscus on the second-to-last day of spring practices.
"I had one of those Friday Night Light moments, I thought lI was Boobie Miles and my career was done," Reynolds said on Cleveland Browns Daily.
"Everything flashed before my eyes and then all of the sudden you realize, oh, they reconstruct ACLs all the time now. But at the same time as a player with any injury you learn how to attack the injury like you attack any week. Every day, just small victories. You don't want to reach being the player that you once were, you want to be better. Ever since then, I put in a work that summer, I changed a lot of stuff — from nutrition to sleep — everything I could do, I did."
In the end, it paid off for the third-year player. Reynolds went on to become an All-American the following season with a team-high six interceptions, the school's most since 1973, and returned three of those takeaways for touchdowns.
Now, Reynolds finds himself starting on a young Browns defense he thinks is starting to find its rhythm with a month left in the season.
"I think we're taking the right strides in the right direction," he said. "If you're a fan or a player, you can definitely see the cohesion in the guys, everything is meshing, guys are rallying around the ball, guys are having fun. Guys are out there making plays … we're rallying around each other no matter what our situation is."
Reynolds, who spent his first two seasons with the Eagles and made three starts in Philadelphia last year, has given the Browns consistency in the secondary.
"He is smart. He understands how to play the position, how to get people aligned. He has been very vocal back there, and that is what has been needed," Jackson said last week.
"It has been a calming situation happening back there because he does a good job communicating with his other teammates. He has a chance to get people on the same page, doing the right things so that maybe we do not have the issues that way from a communication standpoint. He has done a good job, and he has to keep getting better."
Reynolds this past week against the Giants played all 56 snaps of defense on a day that watched the Browns hold New York to 296 total yards and force nine punts.
"I think every snap, every game, I get a little more comfortable," Reynolds said. "And just being me. Playing the game that got me to this point, making sure I kind of control everything in that back end so everything looks smooth and communicating, whether it is with (SS Derrick Kindred) or Joe (Haden) or any other corners or the backers. Just making that we are trying to run a tight ship and eliminate the mental errors."
That mission remains a work in progress.
"It's been a grind but it's made me a better player, it's humbled me along the way," he said. "I've worked toward everything that I have now and right now, playing at a high level and trying to help this team win games and help this defense be where we want to be."