BEREA — Ethan Pocic played well for the Browns in a pinch and then fought back from injury in an attempt to finish the season.
Now he’s hoping to stay in Cleveland despite his one-year contract being scheduled to expire in March.
“That would be a dream come true, man. That would be awesome,” Pocic told the Beacon Journal on Thursday. “So we’ll see what happens. That would be a dream come true, though.”
When the Browns signed Pocic in March, they secured a contingency plan they wound up needing. Nick Harris served as the first-string center in the offseason, yet Pocic became the man in the middle after Harris suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Aug. 12 preseason opener.
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ProFootballFocus.com has Pocic ranked third among the 39 qualifying centers it has graded this season, and the Browns think highly of him, too. A fifth-round draft pick in 2020 with just two regular-season starts, Harris remains unproven at the NFL level.
“What a great job [Pocic] has done really stepping in when Nick got hurt right away and never really missed a beat with him,” Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said. “A great job of the guys upstairs [in the front office] getting him into the building.”
A former Seattle Seahawks starter, Pocic is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m., March 15.
“I would think we would [want to re-sign him],” Van Pelt said. “I don’t make those decisions, but I don’t think there is anything in his play this year that we would say we wouldn’t want to see him again next year.”
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Pocic suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in a knee Nov. 20 in a 31-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He missed four games and returned to action this past weekend, playing all 70 snaps in Saturday’s 17-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He’s gearing up to start for the Browns (6-9) on Sunday at the Washington Commanders (7-7-1).
“It was good to be out there and get back in the swing of things for sure,” Pocic said. “There’s so many different reasons [to come back from injury late in the season]. The first one, I would just have a hard time being healthy and not playing. Second off, playing for our brothers, their families, our coaches, their families — we just want to win.”
Pocic, 27, explained earlier this season once he realized free agency would not yield a lucrative contract for him this past spring, he wanted to sign with the Browns because of their coaching staff and roster. He believes highly respected offensive line coach Bill Callahan has helped him improve as a technician in the trenches.
“I just feel like this is where God called me to be,” Pocic said. “This is what God wanted. Just coming in here, working with Bill and [assistant O-line coach] Scott [Peters] and then everything around them, whether it be the O-linemen, the weight room, the training room, everyone’s on point, so you’ve got a lot of good help around you.
“With a new system, it’s kind of a new way how you see things, and I got to see it [Callahan’s] way. Me and him are on the same page. Bill, he knows how to coach players, man. He’s future Hall of Famer. Him and Scott — and they work well together — both of them, man, I’ve learned so much [from]. I can’t thank them enough.”
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“It’s hard not to fit in [well in the offensive line] room because it’s great people,” Pocic said.
If Pocic gets his way, he’ll be calling those people his teammates again next season.
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Nate Ulrich can be reached at [email protected].
On Twitter: @ByNateUlrich.