BEREA: Defensive tackle Scott Paxson is still on the Browns’ 53-man roster, but he doesn’t want to jinx himself by celebrating too much.
“Deep down inside, I’m overjoyed,” Paxson said Monday after practice. “I want this, so I am pumped.”
NFL teams were required to trim their rosters from 80 players to 53 on Saturday. Paxson, 28, advanced past cut day for the first time in his professional career. He had failed in his previous five attempts dating back to 2006.
“He played very well,” General Manager Tom Heckert said of Paxson. “He really did. Obviously, [he played] well enough to make our team. He’s a very strong kid, and he’s a very good run player. He was productive for us. He did a good job, and I think he earned a spot. We’re very happy with Scott.”
The Browns released 26 players on Saturday, three on Sunday and one on Monday. Paxson, whose resume is highlighted by the one and only game in which he appeared for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008, is thankful he has stuck around this long.
“I was out of football last year,” Paxson said. “I just worked out for some teams and I was getting calls here and there. I always saw light, but there were people around me that were starting to question what I was doing. I had a little taste of it with the Steelers. I was like, ‘I’m not giving this up. I know I can play. I know I can do this.’ I’m still a kid at heart. I still want to do it. I love football.”
During the NFL’s lockout, the 6-foot-4, 291-pound Paxson juggled a day job with his training for football. In the two months before training camp started, he worked with disabled children and young adults as a counselor for Wood Services in Langhorne, Pa. He helped them get ready for school and then assisted their teacher in the classroom.
“It was the real world,” Paxson said. “A lot of my buddies are in unions. I was like, ‘I commend you on trying to work out and keep in shape ’cause now I know how you feel.’ I was working 7 to 3:30. I came home and was tired.”
But Paxson was persistent. He kept lifting weights and running hills to prepare for camp. He never let go of his dream, and he has been rewarded.
Welcome to Cleveland
The Browns were awarded quarterback Thaddeus Lewis (St. Louis Rams), undrafted rookie linebacker Quinton Spears (Miami Dolphins) and defensive end Emmanuel Stephens (Atlanta Falcons) off waivers Sunday. They all practiced Monday.
Like Spears and Stephens, Lewis said his former team intended to sign him to its practice squad. Instead, the Browns intervened, and the 6-2, 200-pound Lewis was reunited with coach Pat Shurmur, who served as the Rams’ offensive coordinator during the past two seasons.
“He was a tough coach,” Lewis said. “That’s what [I needed] when I was there my rookie year last year. But he helped me out a lot, understanding and grasping the West Coast offense.”
The 6-4, 234-pound Spears said Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron will use him as a strongside linebacker. With Chris Gocong (pinched nerve in his neck) and Titus Brown (high-ankle sprain) out, Spears is one of four healthy linebackers on the Browns’ 53-man roster.
“I’ve gotta learn my stuff quick because somebody might get fatigued or tired or nicked up, and I’m the next guy in the rotation,” Spears said. “So I definitely have to be on my P’s and Q’s, learn my things very quickly and be able to go out there and be comfortable and perform without too much hesitation and thinking when my number’s called.”
The 6-3, 255-pound Stephens said he doesn’t expect the transition from the Falcons’ 4-3 defense to Jauron’s 4-3 scheme to be too difficult. He said he can play either right or left end.
“I had a pretty good preseason and a pretty good camp,” Stephens said. “I feel pretty good about myself.’’
Practice squad additions
The Browns signed defensive end Auston English and linebacker Benjamin Jacobs to their practice squad on Monday. Both players had been waived by the Browns on Sunday.
The 6-3, 250-pound English recorded 11 tackles and an NFL-high four sacks this preseason. The 6-4, 243-pound Jacobs, an undrafted rookie from Fresno State, compiled six tackles.
Tight end Benjamin Watson (hip) sat out Monday, but he is expected to return to practice Wednesday, Shurmur said. Gocong also was sidelined.
“I’m hoping [Gocong will be back soon], but again, I don’t know,” Shurmur said. “His is a situation where he’ll get better quickly, so we’ll see.”
Radio play-by-play announcer Jim Donovan returned to the team’s facility Monday to watch practice. Donovan is battling leukemia and had a bone marrow transplant a few months ago. Donovan said he’s excited to call the regular-season opener Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium. … Former Michigan State coach George Perles visited the team’s headquarters. Shurmur played for Perles during his days as a standout offensive lineman.