November 26, 2014

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Browns’ Sorensen happy to blend in as solid play goes unnoticed

Nick Sorensen is the invisible man. He’s in his fourth year as a Brown and has been in the NFL for 10. Yet he’s so unremarkable, he could blend in at a busy restaurant and not draw a single second look. He could even talk football — Browns football — without anyone realizing he’s on the team.

Browns defensive back Nick Sorensen makes a hit on tight end Aaron Walker during training camp in 2009. Sorensen’s toughness is one reason he’s stayed in the NFL for 10 years. (AP file photo.)

Browns defensive back Nick Sorensen makes a hit on tight end Aaron Walker during training camp in 2009. Sorensen’s toughness is one reason he’s stayed in the NFL for 10 years. (AP file photo.)

He’s got proof.

“I go in a coffee shop and no one knows,” Sorensen, a career special teamer, said last week. “Or if I’m at a restaurant, I hear what people really think. Then I can be like an instigator and see what they think about cer­tain things.”

He’s done this?

“All the time,” he said.

Sorensen said he’s never heard his name mentioned in conversation about the Browns. He’s not a kicker or kick returner, just one of the other 10 guys killing themselves as they sprint down the field and experience insane collisions at high speeds.

“I know they’re a true fanatic to rec­ognize me,” he said. “That means you must know everyone on the team. “I’m just a skinny white guy walking around, which I’m cool with. I like just being able to blend in.”

For about five minutes Aug. 28 during the preseason game against the Lions, Sorensen was the most visible Brown — for all the wrong reasons. He lay on the turf of Ford Field after taking a pair of simultaneous helmet-to-helmet hits while covering a kickoff.

Andre Fluellen, a 302-pounder, hit Sorensen head-on, while 237-pound Caleb Campbell got him on the side.

Sorensen had movement in his limbs immediately, but the scene was scary. The entire Browns team surrounded him, many in prayer.

“I still don’t remember the play,” he said. “I remember waking up having a headache and just kind of being curious. I didn’t really know what was going on. The doctors told me everything was good, everything was working fine.”

Danielle Sorensen, who’s seven months pregnant with their first child, a boy, was at the game with Nick’s parents. Coach Eric Mangini had his assistant call quickly to let them know Nick had been conscious and had movement.

“That was big for him to do that,” Sorensen said. “I think he called her within five minutes. That was awesome.”

Sorensen suffered a concussion, which left him with a “pretty good” headache for a couple of days. He had some dizziness and other issues, but was symptom-free within five days. He began light exercise, still felt fine and returned to practice Friday. He didn’t play Sunday but watched from the sideline.

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If practice goes well this week, he should play Sunday against the Chiefs. Cleveland’s usually solid special teams units need him.

They missed him in the opening loss to Tampa Bay, as Reggie Hodges had a punt partially blocked and Joshua Cribbs got nothing going in the return game. Sorensen is the personal protector on punts and an integral part of every punt and kickoff team.

The Chiefs beat San Diego on Monday night largely because of special teams. Rookie Dexter McCluster returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown and rookie Javier Arenas was a spark on punt and kickoff returns.

Sorensen began his Virginia Tech career at quarterback before becoming a safety and linebacker. He’s seen more time at safety in the last two years — he had 17 defensive tackles in 2008 after seven total in his first seven years — but forever will be an anonymous special teamer. He’s played 119 games and had a career-high 24 special teams tackles in 2002 for St. Louis.

He must be good if he’s stuck around this long.

“It’s toughness,” fellow special teamer Blake Costanzo said. “Just being tough and resilient through all those years, staying healthy and being able to be on the field. To play 10 years in the league is an amazing feat for an undrafted guy.”

Sorensen said he had a couple of “little” concussions in the past but nothing like the latest. He’s confident the horrific hit won’t affect his all-out style.

“I don’t think so. I feel like I want to play,” he said. “I love special teams, I love doing that.”

“Special teams is all about effort and will and he has a lot of it,” Cribbs said. “He’s good at what he does. He’s going to give his hardest no matter what.”

The kind words made Sorensen smile.

“I’ve got great teammates, that’s the bottom line,” he said. “My wife said a bunch of guys came up to her after the (Detroit) game and she said you could just tell how much they cared. That to me meant the most.

“It really does feel like a family with a lot of these guys.”

And they know exactly who he is.

No news on Delhomme

The Browns are keeping Jake Delhomme’s injured right ankle under wraps.

The team did not provide a medical update on Delhomme, who underwent an MRI on Tuesday after injuring his right ankle while throwing a game-swinging interception late in the first half of Sunday’s season-opening loss at Tampa Bay. It was the veteran’s debut with the Browns.

Delhomme played the entire second half on an ankle coach Eric Mangini described as being “twisted up” by his quarterback. A team spokesman said the Browns “will not have anything on Jake,” and declined to offer any other information.

The Browns host Kansas City on Sunday in their home opener. If Delhomme can’t play, backup Seneca Wallace could start against the Chiefs (1-0).

Mangini is expected to provide an update on Delhomme before practice today. Delhomme, who threw two picks in Cleveland’s 17-14 loss, is also scheduled to speak with reporters as the Browns begin installing their game plan for the Chiefs.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.