The Cleveland Browns placed their veteran linebacker Scott Fujita on the Injured Reserve list today. An undisclosed neck injury has ended his season. What makes matters worse is the fact that Fujita’s playing career may be over. In an NFL that has a secret meaning of “Not For Long”, the former Super Bowl champion played eleven seasons for four teams.
Signed by the Browns in 2009 as a free agent, Fujita was supposed to be the veteran presence needed at the linebacker position. The 33 year old will finish his career with 767 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and 7 interceptions. In extremely limited time this year, Fujita compiled 14 tackles and 1 sack.
The former second pick from the University of California was poised to have a great 2012 season. Trying not to drown in the bounty gate scandal, Fujita came to training camp in great shape and took leadership in the Browns’ young locker room. All indications were that Fujita was ready to rock and roll this season. Unfortunately, it just never happened. Cleveland will miss his guidance on and off the field.
The show must go on for the Browns at outside linebacker. One of the young guns must now step up and contribute right away. Whether it be James-Michael Johnson, Craig Robertson or LJ Fort, someone must answer the bell for the last nine games. While Fujita provided experience and smarts, JMJ, Robertson, and Fort bring speed and youth to the table.
As long as they stick together, Cleveland’s young and talented group at linebacker should be fun to watch for years to come. It will not get any easier this weekend, as they will have their work cut out for them with Antonio Gates.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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