August 29, 2014

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Browns looking for big hits from Slaughter

BEREA — The jury is out on whether Cleveland scored a big hit with their top pick of Day 3 of the NFL Draft. But Notre Dame safety Jamoris Slaughter wants Browns fans to know they are definitely getting a big hitter.

“I was like the first person to knock the quarterback’s helmet off in the 90-pound league and I kind of got that reputation when I was young,” Slaughter said. “I think I just have a laidback, cool, collected side to me, but on the field it’s kind of like I can be my alter ego and be another person. I just feel like a warrior out on the field … and I play like that.”

Slaughter, the first Notre Dame player drafted by the Browns since quarterback Brady Quinn in 2007, appeared in 39 games with the Fighting Irish — including 19 starts — and finished with 98 tackles, four tackles for a loss, two sacks, seven pass breakups and a pair of interceptions.

Those career numbers would have certainly been gaudier had his senior season not been cut short after just 2½ games.

“We were playing Michigan State — first play of the second half — I was literally just backpedaling and I planted my left leg to break forward and I just felt something like a pop,” Slaughter said. “I went straight to the ground and I thought I had just twisted my ankle. When the trainers took a look at it and told me I had torn my Achilles, I was just heartbroken because I knew I was going to be out for the rest of the season.”

The injury caused Slaughter’s draft stock to plummet, but he was still projected to be selected in the third or fourth round, leading many to believe the Browns may have gotten a steal if Slaughter can stay healthy.

“We felt really good when we looked at him on film,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Saturday. “We also feel good about him medically. We feel he’ll be back at full speed soon.

“We saw a player that was extremely productive and versatile … he’s able to do a number of different things. We project forward that he’d be in the mix and compete for the safety positions.”

Even though the Browns medical staff gave Slaughter the thumbs up, the player still wanted to reassure everyone that he’s nearly ready to perform.

“I’m about 90 percent right now,” he said. “I’m able to do sprinting and cutting and I’ve been doing position drills. The main thing now is getting my power and explosion back. It’s been coming along pretty well and I think I should be ready — 100 percent — by training camp.”

Slaughter had no problem with being open and honest during his conference call with the Cleveland media — “I was expecting to go undrafted,” he said — and was more than happy to give the reporters a scouting report on himself.

“My strengths, I think I’m an aggressive player and I play with passion,” he said. “I think I’m a good communicator on the field and I’m big into watching film and making sure everybody is doing what they need to do. I think some of my weaknesses are that I could get better hip mobility and flexibility than I had in college. I think I could have prevented some injuries by doing pre-hab workouts a couple times a week.”

Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or sbennett@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.