The Cleveland Browns placed linebacker Scott Fujita on the injured-reserve list Wedesday, ending his season and possibly his career.
Fujita has been inactive the past two games with a neck injury that reportedly could lead the 11-year veteran to retire.
“I think retirement decisions, those are personal, whether it’s coaches, players," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said in his Wednesday press conference. "I think those are discussions you have with your loved ones, about is it time? For a player at times, that decision is made for you. If you’re no longer on a roster and you don’t get picked up, eventually it kind of sets in. I think we all want to be in control of our own situations. I think that’s fair to say. I think it’s fair to say that most of us aren’t. I think that’s the reality of it. To me, uncertainty in the world, tells me that, ‘Hey, we’re moving along.’”
With Fujita out for the season, rookie James-Michael Johnson is expected to get the first shot at the starting role.
“The guys in there have got to play good ball and they’ve got to get each other lined up," Shurmur said. "The MIKE linebacker, D’Qwell (Jackson), is ultimately responsible for that and all the guys in there have got to play. That’s how we do it, just like they did when Scott wasn’t playing the last couple of weeks.
"Just from a roster standpoint we’ve got younger guys playing those positions. When you’ve got a guy that has experience there are things that he can add to the mix. Then on the other side of it, some of the youth and enthusiasm and the fresher legs add another little dimension.”
Fujita signed with the Browns as a free agent in 2010 after spending four seasons with the Saints. He played just 23 of a possible 39 games with the Browns because of injuries.
“He’s been here longer than I have, so I had just gotten to know him really last season, and then through this offseason," Shurmur said. "He’s a veteran player that’s done a lot of things in this league. He’s one of those guys around here that kind of knew what was going on. He’s pretty calm about doing his job. The kind of the things you see from a guy that’s played in the league for a while.”
The injury is just the latest in what has been a frustrating year for Fujita, who has battled the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell over his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty program.
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