August 2, 2014

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Browns: Backup safties stepping into starting roles

 BEREA — No one will ever accuse Mike Adams and Nick Sorensen of lacking confidence, but that isn’t a bad thing considering their current situation.
The unheralded and largely unproven safeties have been thrust into the Browns’ starting lineup due to injuries, giving them a golden opportunity they have long been looking for.
“We could sit here for 20 minutes and name backups that ended up becoming stars and some guys who became Hall of Fame players,” said Sorensen, a seven-year veteran who has yet to start a regular season game. “I think every backup in this league has that mentality. Even the coach has to see that. If you don’t think you can play, you shouldn’t be here.”
Both players received positive reviews for their play Saturday in Cleveland’s 26-6 loss in Detroit, which earned them a second straight start when the Chicago Bears come to town Thursday for the preseason finale.
Sorensen intercepted Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky, while Adams served as the defensive quarterback, calling plays and changing formations on the fly. On an afternoon when little went right for the Browns, they more than acquitted themselves while filling in for first-stringers Brodney Pool (concussion) and Sean Jones (knee).
“Mike is a feisty guy and Nick made a couple of plays and showed up on some things,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “I thought they held their own. When you can show up like that, you are taking advantage of those opportunities.”
Cornerback Eric Wright agreed, saying, “Obviously, we’ve known they can play. It was just good to see them come in, step in, and really help us out a lot.”
While the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Sorensen has earned a spot in the NFL through strong special teams play, the 5-11, 195 Adams has built his career as a reserve cornerback, specializing in nickel schemes.
Though Adams has logged four seasons in the league in that role, he has always dreamed of having more responsibility in the secondary. By temporarily taking over for Jones, he’s got it now.
“I’ve said it before, I can do it all,” the affable Adams said. “Nickel, dime, quarter, safety, special teams, in the box, downfield, whatever you need.
“It’s unfortunate that Sean and Brodney got hurt and we want them back as soon as possible, but I promise you, you won’t see a drop off at all with me and Nick out there.”
Crennel has shown faith in the duo throughout this offseason, pairing up Sorensen and Adams as his second set of safeties from the start of OTAs.
It’s a classic Mutt and Jeff combination with Sorensen’s long, flowing blonde hair and the much shorter, balding Adams living up to his nickname of “Pops.” Yet, it seems to work.
“We’ve got a good rapport, a good idea what each other’s thinking and how we’re going to be moving around back there,” Sorensen said. “Chemistry wasn’t a real problem.
“If something happens, I don’t want (Crennel) to hesitate to put us in. If they’re not ready to go, I definitely will be.”
Pool and Jones are expected to return to action Sept. 7 when the Browns open their regular season against Dallas, which makes every play against the Bears critical to their backups.
Sorensen and Adams have already made the team, but they want to force Crennel to make room for them on the field, regardless of how healthy the rest of Cleveland’s defensive backs are.
“I’m jealous of Nick because he got the pick last week, but that’s all right because we’re on the same team,” Adams said, laughing. “Just wait ‘til you see the one-handed catch that I take to the house next game. I’m not a 6-4, 200-plus guy, but I can get it done back there. We both can.”
 
Dulik may be reached at 330-721-4059 or brisports@hotmail.com