April 18, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
43°F

Browns: Very proud Juszczyk makes return to NE Ohio

CLEVELAND — Ravens rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk lived out another one of his dreams on Sunday afternoon.

Juszczyk was on the field for every special teams snap during Baltimore’s 24-18 loss to the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium, marking the first time the Cloverleaf graduate has played in an NFL game in his home state.

Kyle Juszczyk

“I am past being mesmerized by these games at this point, but this was really cool today playing in front of my family and friends,” Juszczyk said.

“Being a kid who grew up near Cleveland and having gone to Browns games, to go from seeing them from the stands to actually being on the field against them was pretty cool.”

The muscular 6-foot-1, 245-pounder is one of 30 Ravens — and six Baltimore rookies — to appear in all eight games this season. Six of those contests have included time in the backfield, blocking for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Though he hasn’t logged any offensive statistics, Juszczyk recovered a fumbled kickoff by teammate Vonta Leach on Oct. 20 at Pittsburgh and has one special teams tackle.

Juszczyk logged 26 plays against the Browns, working on the protection and pursuit units led by punter Sam Koch, kicker Justin Tucker, punt returner Tandon Doss and kickoff returner Jacoby Jones. He was in attack mode late in the second quarter when the Ravens squibbed a kickoff, but it was recovered by Cleveland cornerback Leon McFadden.

“I am on every special teams unit and I love my role,” Juszczyk said. “They give me an opportunity to make some plays for our offense and defense. I’ve played a little bit at fullback, but right now, I’m a special teams guy and I will give everything I have out there.”

Baltimore made Juszczyk the 130th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, grabbing him with its second selection in the fourth round. The former Harvard tight end signed a four-year contract with the Ravens on May 3, then reported to training camp in late August.

Juszczyk was a three-time All-Ivy League honoree with the Crimson — seeing time at tight end, fullback, H-back, and in the slot — after being named an All-Ohio second-team linebacker as a senior with the Colts.

“You know from covering me at Cloverleaf, I played a little defense,” he said with a sly smile. “Knowing there were about 40 people here cheering for me — a lot of them guys that I played with in high school — made the whole experience really special today. I’ll never forget the great times we had together.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.