When they were college teammates at Auburn, Browns outside linebacker Corey Lemonier said defensive lineman Gabe Wright would get in his ear in an effort to motivate him.
Reunited as members of Cleveland's roster, Lemonier said a similar scene unfolded in the waning moments of this past Sunday's game at Miami.
"Gabe kept on telling me you're going to make a play," Lemonier said Thursday on Cleveland Browns Daily.
As it turns out, Wright was right.
Lemonier — who joined the roster earlier this month off waivers following three seasons in San Francisco — strip-sacked Ryan Tannehill and recovered the fumble at Miami's 27-yard line with 20 seconds to play. The play nearly lifted the Browns to their first win in 2016.
"I was like, 'Oh man,'" Lemonier said, laughing. "This is a Déjà vu kind of thing so it was a good feeling."
"I talked to him earlier in the week, just about his time in San Francisco and I think the guy is talented and I told him, you've got to make some plays," Browns coach Hue Jackson said postgame. "It's time for you to step up and make a play and here's your opportunity here, and he made a play."
In 16 snaps of action, Lemonier made his presence on the field known. He knocked down Tannehill, notched three tackles, a tackle-for-loss and a quarterback hurry. Now, the fourth-year player could see his role increase as Nate Orchard recovers from a high ankle sprain.
"It's the NFL, it's a production league. We're expected to do good so me getting more plays and stuff like that? Who knows," Lemonier said, shrugging off the prospect of playing more. "I'm just doing my job and doing the best I can."
Lemonier also adds a veteran presence in a young outside linebackers room that includes Orchard (who enters his second season) and rookies Emmanuel Ogbah and Joe Schobert.
"(Outside linebackers) coach (Ryan) Slowik was like you're the veteran in this group and I was like, what are you talking about!? I'm only 24," he said, laughing. "And he was like no, you're the veteran in this room, we have three rookies and a second-year guy. I was kind of like taken away by it that. I was the veteran but it's been good."
Lemonier, a former third-round pick drafted by the Jim Harbaugh-led 49ers in 2013, credited Jackson and the coaching staff for preparing him and fellow waiver pickups Briean Boddy-Calhoun (who made a pick-six in his NFL debut Sunday) and defensive lineman Tyrone Holmes (who continues to emerge as an effective pass rusher) to contribute.
"They've done a good job of preparing us and teaching us and everything step by step," Lemonier said. "(We) took that pretty seriously and it's been clicking so hats off to guys like Calhoun and Tyrone. They're just eating all the information and you're seeing it translate to the field."
The same goes for Lemonier, whom Jackson said has earned more time on the field.
"We have guys here that are here to play. Our performance is our signature," Jackson said Wednesday. "Every guy that puts on a helmet – I've heard (defensive coordinator) Ray (Horton) say that before – is going to play, and we try to live up to that."