It's no secret that the Cleveland Browns are thin at the linebacker position. They've got just two players -- D'Qwell Jackson and Kaluka Maiava -- who actually have any experience in the NFL, and then they've got essentially nothing. Well, nothing in regards to proven talent. They do have somebody waiting for his opportunity to show what he can do: rookie linebacker L.J. Fort.
Fort is set to start for the Browns, even though he was likely going to be back on the depth chart if there wasn't a run of injuries and a suspension. Scott Fujita is serving a three-game suspension for his alleged involvement in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, while fellow rookie James-Michael Johnson has a ribs/oblique injury that will keep him out for Week 1.
There was a quote from Fort on The Plain Dealer in which he expresses his excitement:
"I have to say, this is the most excited I've been in my life," Fort said Thursday. "I mean, this has been my dream since I was like 8 years old. And it's finally become a reality. It's awesome."
It's not going to be an easy outing for Fort. It's tough for linebackers to make the transition to the NFL, as their responsibilities change so drastically from college to the big game. On top of that, Fort's primary objective will be spying Michael Vick for the game... a tall task for even the most seasoned linebackers. Vick will look to exploit Fort's lack of experience through the air and on the ground.
Still, if Fort can come out and make a big play or two, he might earn himself more and more playing time going forward, even when other players return from injuries and suspensions. It's a big opportunity for the undrafted free agent.