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Immediate impact: Browns LB Scott Solomon makes plays against Carolina


Scott Solomon.

The outside linebacker's name rolls off the tongue just like it rolled onto the stat sheet Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

One day after being called up from the practice squad, Solomon registered a jarring third-down tackle on Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart and strip-sacked quarterback Cam Newton early in the fourth quarter.

Who was this guy? Why did he bring immediate electricity to the defense?

Even diehard Browns fans had trouble identifying whom Solomon was, a seemingly hidden gem.

"I was trying to stand out. That was the goal," said the 26-year-old, who spent time on Tampa Bay's active roster earlier in the year. "Really, I just try and play the way I know how."

Cleveland's offensive linemen know how hard Solomon plays.

After his second week on the practice squad, Solomon won scout team player of the week. He mimicked Falcons outside linebackers Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann, while harassing Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz as a pesky, relentless pass rusher.

Solomon's non-stop effort jumped off the televisions coaches watched after practice, much like his 26 snaps did against the Panthers.

On Monday, coach Mike Pettine discussed how he wanted younger players to be sponges and pepper questions to established veterans on the team.

"Coaches can only take guys so far," Pettine said. "But when they have a guy that's in their locker room that's been in this league that's made it a long time, they do need to use them as sources of information."

Solomon has taken that message to heart, seeking out fellow outside linebacker Paul Kruger. Leading the Browns with a career-high 10 sacks, Kruger has assisted Solomon in making adjustments to his footwork on the practice field as well as demonstrating other rush techniques that work well against specific opponents. On Monday, Solomon was worrying about getting Kruger a meaningful Christmas gift.

Kruger has embraced being a mentor for Solomon, inviting him and a few other practice squad players over for Thanksgiving dinner last month. Gourmet chefs from Lago catered the abundant meal. While these 20-something, dream-chasing practice squad players were living out of a hotel far away from their families, Kruger made sure they had a place to feel at home – to feel like family.

"It's the least I could do," Kruger said. "We work so hard together as a team."

Solomon is modest when describing himself, but there are two quirks about him that display his athleticism. As a high schooler, Solomon's other sport besides football was the long and triple jump. While others dabbled on the basketball court or threw shot-put, Solomon developed strength in his legs that would benefit him as a football player.

A few years later, at Rice University, the team asked Solomon to put on 30 pounds because it needed him to switch to defensive tackle. Without flinching, Solomon obliged. The next season, when it needed him to morph back into a pass-rushing defensive end, Solomon was willing. Given the chance to prove it, he's been an ultimate team guy.  

Rightfully, Solomon is tired of being cut. The Buccaneers did it twice this season. The New York Jets did it once last season before he could even take a snap. The path for Solomon has been winding and treacherous. 

"A lot of people don't understand the lifestyle," Solomon said. "There's change all the time."

Don't tell Solomon that Sunday's game against the Ravens is meaningless. For players like him, defensive lineman Sione Fua and running back Shaun Draughn, the game in Baltimore could mean the difference between another offseason bouncing around like a pinball or the stability of being wanted by the Browns. 

There's one thing Solomon's hoping he can prove during the Week 17 finale.

"I want Cleveland," Solomon said, "to be my home."

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