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Cleveland Browns: Rookie Linebacker L.J. Fort Set to Make Noise Early in 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012 4:30
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By Kris Knox
Senior Writer

Linebacker L.J. Fort was a virtual unknown in the NFL community only a few short months ago.

Thirty-two teams passed on the Northern Iowa product during the 2012 draft, despite the fact that Fort led the nation with 14.15 tackles per game and set a school record with 184 total tackles last season.

However, Fort quickly found an opportunity with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent, and the 6’0″, 230-pound linebacker has impressed ever since.

After drawing serious praise throughout training camp, Fort continued to perform on the field, leading the Browns with 21 tackles this preseason. His hard work finally paid off on Friday, when Fort earned one of Cleveland’s 53 roster spots during the team’s final series of cutdowns.

While Fort has already made a name for himself along the shores of Lake Erie, he still remains a virtual unknown outside of Cleveland.

That may be about to change.

Fort is currently listed behind fellow tackling machine D’Qwell Jackson at the middle linebacker position on the team’s depth chart. However, with outside linebacker Scott Fujita set to serve a three-game suspension and rookie fourth-round selection James-Michael Johnson battling an oblique injury, Fort may be thrust into a significant role when the team kicks off the regular season on Sept. 9.

With Fujita and Johnson out, the Browns appear likely to start either Fort or outside linebacker Craig Robertson, who spent part of last season on Cleveland’s practice squad. Both players are likely to see ample playing time against the Eagles.

In a matter of months, Fort will have gone from an undersized, undrafted prospect to a contributing member of a promising young NFL defense.

This coming Sunday, Fort will finally have an opportunity to shine at the game’s highest level. If he can continue to rack up tackles at the same rate he has in college and through preseason, Fort is likely to remain unknown to the NFL world no more.

Follow Kris on Twitter: @Kris_Knox

Related stories:

Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson’s Status Still Unclear, But Expect Him to Play Week 1

Cleveland Browns: LJ Fort, Ronnie Cameron Just Two Undrafted Rookies Who Increased Odds of Making Team in Preseason Finale


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