Juston Burris was preparing for the Vikings up until Thursday of last week. Then, after he was waived by the Raiders, he was preparing for his next move.
Back in a familiar spot as of Friday afternoon, Burris was informed he'd be taking on quite the unexpected workload as the Browns wrapped up their preparations for the Los Angeles Rams. And Burris, who spent the second half of last season and all of the 2019 preseason with the Browns, wasn't just needed to fill a roster spot amid a rash of injuries.
With the entire starting secondary sidelined, the Browns needed Burris, a former cornerback, to start at a position that was new to him as of earlier this year. As it turned out, the Browns needed Burris on the field for every single play in Sunday's hard-fought 20-13 loss to the defending NFC Champions.
"I knew I was going to play a good bit. I didn't know every snap," Burris said. "I was thankful they had that confidence in me to do that. I think I helped the team out. Just glad to be here."
Burris certainly inspired even more confidence after his performance, which included a fourth quarter interception -- the third of his NFL career -- that set up the Browns for a potential game-tying drive. It was reflective of the gutsy performance by the entire Cleveland defense, which was without five starters but still limited the Rams to 20 points -- something that happened just once all of the 2018 regular season.
Check out the best photos from the Cleveland Browns game against the Los Angeles Rams yesterday
It was the embodiment of the "next man up" mentality that is expressed in every locker room throughout the NFL. In regards to Burris, who had a strong preseason and provided one of the toughest cut-down day decisions for the Browns, it took on a whole new meaning.
"He's a professional," cornerback T.J. Carrie said. "We had him here early on. He knows the defense, he knows the scheme. Very smart and savvy guy. He's been in the league for a couple of years so he knows what it takes to come into a situation like that and be able to perform at a high level.
"I think he did an amazing job really challenging himself to come in early, meet with the coaches, stay late, meet with the coaches, made sure he had the game plan sound and go out there and make plays and have fun. I think he did a really excellent job of that."
Burris said he was in meetings the moment he arrived in Cleveland on Friday and he made the most of Sunday's primetime kick, using every waking hour to gobble up the game plan in order to give him the comfort he needed to play free and easy. It showed on the interception, as Burris ran to the ball and made the big play the Browns desperately needed.
Now, Burris has a traditional week to prepare for the Ravens while the Browns hope to get back some of the injured members of their secondary. Even if they're not fully staffed Sunday, they'll know they have a reliable option in Burris, who talks like a player who never left.
"That's just the confidence we built in camp," Burris said. "We always knew we had depth. We had guys that played the game and made plays in this league and started games. Our confidence never wavered once those guys went down. We just tried to step in and hold the team up and be that secondary that was going to make plays and not have a dropoff."