BEREA — The NFL is forever unleashing nobodies who wind up mattering.

Two bolts out of the blue hope to strike Sunday for teams aiming to rule the AFC North. The Browns boast Devaroe Lawrence, who spent the preseason in quarterbacks' faces (four sacks) after spending most of 2018 on the practice squad. The only NFL player with as many as five preseason sacks was Tuzar Skipper of the Pittsburgh Steelers, an undrafted rookie out of Toledo.

It remains to be seen whether the August buzz they built can last into mid-November, when the Browns and Steelers collide in the first of their two games.

For now, the Steelers must worry about a Sunday night opener at the New England Patriots. The Tennessee Titans will play in Cleveland earlier in the day.

The Browns seem loaded on the defensive line. Lawrence and others offer intriguing depth behind a potentially lights-out starting foursome with 21 pro seasons of experience.

Two of the starters hung out after the preseason finale, sharing laughs and entertaining questions.

There was Olivier Vernon, who barely played in August, but sacked Jameis Winston twice when he did. There was Larry Ogunjobi, a third-year pro aiming to make a jump.

Vernon said he is "enjoying every second" on a team intent on brewing up "something special." He was an injured New York Giant last September, but in the first game he played, he sacked Carson Wentz.

In Sheldon Richardson's 2018 opener, with the Minnesota Vikings, he sacked Jimmy Garoppolo.

Returnees who played in the Browns' 21-21 tie with the Steelers last Sept. 9 include Myles Garrett (two sacks of Ben Roethlisberger in that opener), Ogunjobi (sack plus a tackle for loss) and Genard Avery (sack). Mix Lawrence and 2018 third-round pick Chad Thomas (sack in the preseason finale) and ...

"Shoot," said Vernon, "we're very young and very talented. We've just got to put everything together. This organization is very hungry. Very, VERY hungry. And I see that."

Vernon and Richardson both will turn 29 during the season. No 2018 Browns defensive lineman had anything approaching their experience.

Ogunjobi was a backup as a rookie third-round pick in 2017. He started all 16 games last year. He was listening nearby when someone asked Vernon what advice he might offer.

Ogunjobi butted in with the answer: "Have patience."

Vernon smiled and said, "Exactly, man. It doesn't happen overnight."

"Larry's got all the tools he needs," Vernon said. "I've been in the game a little while. Sheldon and I are the oldest when it comes to years on the defensive line. Part of why we're here is spreading knowledge.

"I appreciate that the young guys are willing to listen. If I was in their position, I'd want to know the same things."

The 3-4-based Steelers have kept 10 linebackers, including Skipper. The 4-3-based Browns initially kept 10 defensive linemen, if you count "linebacker" Genard Avery, whose biggest asset, the coaches say, is pass rushing.

Garrett, the defensive line's biggest name, remains the youngest man in the group, at 23. Ogunjobi turned 25 in June, but he didn't take up football until well into his high school days.

"I want to be the best at what I do," Ogunjobi said, "and that requires asking a lot of questions. I'm a sponge around Olivier and Sheldon, because really this game is from the neck up when you get to this level.

"That's who I go to ... Olivier and Sheldon. It's a blessing to have older guys. For sure."

Steve Wilks is getting older. The Browns' new defensive coordinator turned 50 the day of the preseason opener, a 30-10 win over Washington.

"New" has worked out wonderfully for him more than once. He was the new defensive backs coach in Chicago the season the Bears ripped the New Orleans Saints 39-14 in the NFC title game. He was promoted to assistant head coach with the Carolina Panthers in 2015, when they smoked the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC Championship Game.

It was early August when Wilks said of the defensive line, "You can see right now it is going to be the strength of our team."

The starters didn't play much in the preseason.

"Once you get close to the season," Ogunjobi said, "they want to save your legs and make sure everything is straight.

"Now it's time to play. I'm really excited. I can't wait. It should be really fun."

Vernon has been waiting a long time to have any real NFL fun. Ogunjobi hadn't yet taken up football when Vernon was rushing Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor on a September Saturday in 2010. As a pro, Vernon's record in playoff games (four seasons with the Miami Dolphins, three with the Giants) is 0-1.

It's opening week. His new team is undefeated.

"In camp, in the games," he said with a glint in his eye, "the young guys have been ballin'."