Browns rookie linebacker Marcus Benard received a standing ovation when coach Eric Mangini announced in front of the team Monday that the undrafted free agent from Jackson State was being promoted to the active roster.
''I was trying to keep my cool, keep composure, act like I've been here before. Then everybody starts clapping,'' Benard said.
Benard, 6-foot-2 and 256 pounds, apparently has earned the respect of the veterans with his attitude and work ethic. He earned the nickname ''King Kong'' at Jackson State, where he totalled 25 sacks in two years.
The move may signal that linebacker Eric Barton is headed to injured reserve. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported last week that Barton has a bulging disc in his neck that would threaten his season. Barton suffered what was announced as a shoulder injury late in the first half of the Browns' last game Nov. 1 at Chicago.
Mangini said an announcement on Barton may be coming as early as Monday afternoon.
Benard said he tried to stay positive as he languished on the practice squad, especially since ex-Jets brought in by Mangini told him that Mangini would give him a chance.
''It definitely keeps you motivated to know that,'' Benard said. ''I'd always ask, 'Are they going to move me up? Do you think I've got a chance?' and all the guys were telling me, 'Mangini always moves up a rookie or a young talent.' That's motivation to keep working harder knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel.''
Now Benard must prove in practice that he deserves to be on the 45-man active roster for the Nov. 16 Monday night home game against Baltimore.
''When any kid dreams about football, he thinks about Monday Night Football. This is a big stage.
''I'm definitely going to call the family and tell them, 'Make sure you watch.'''
When it was suggested that Benard can now dream about getting a sack on Monday night, he said, ''There you go. A sack or a few.''
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