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Pittsburgh Profile: Jabaal Sheard

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Former Pitt standout Jabaal Sheard is in his fourth year with the Browns

PITTSBURGH - After a stellar career at Pitt from 2007 to 2010, defensive end Jabaal Sheard was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the second round in 2011. He has started every game since arriving in Cleveland and is the first player in Browns history to lead the team in sacks in three consecutive seasons.

Sheard and the Browns came to Heinz Field on Sunday, and a tale of two halves unfolded. The Steelers jumped on the Browns in the first half before nearly self-destructing in the second. A Sean Suisham 41-yard field goal as time ran out proved to be the difference in Pittsburgh’s 30-27 win, much to the disappointment of Sheard.

Sheard picked up a sack of Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger early in the fourth quarter but he was also called for unsportsmanlike conduct on a punt return midway through the quarter. Sheard finished the game with three tackles, a quarterback hurry, and a sack for a loss of 5 yards.

“We have a lot to improve on. I didn’t have a great game at all,” Sheard said. “As the game went on, we got better. That’s definitely something to build on. We need to go back and correct our mistakes and get back to it next week.”

Sheard still feels an eerie sense of déjà vu when playing a game in Pittsburgh.

“I woke up this morning, looked out the window of the hotel, and saw all the yellow bridges and I knew I was back in Pittsburgh,” Sheard said. “It’s still different coming to [Heinz Field] to play and being the away team.”

Sheard still enjoys coming to Pittsburgh. When he does, he tries to meet up with old friends and teammates. 

“I got some Uncle Sams subs and visited some friends. I really couldn’t do too much. I needed to stay focused for the game,” Sheard said. “It’s always good to be back at Heinz Field. I get to see some people that I haven’t seen since last year. They’re my extended family, old teammates and friends. I just saw one of my old trainers.”

Even when Sheard is away from Pittsburgh, he is still reminded of his old school. Mike Pettine, the new Browns head coach, was a defensive graduate assistant at Pitt. The Browns’ defensive coordinator, Chuck Driesbach, was Pitt’s defensive coordinator from 1993 to 1996 under then-head coach Johnny Majors.

Also, Browns assistant coaches Jeff Hafly and Brian Angelichio were assistants at Pitt under former head coach Dave Wannstedt, and former Panthers K’Waun Williams and Aaron Berry were both signed as free agents by the Browns this season.

“It just shows a lot of people have been through Pittsburgh. That’s one of the things that makes Pitt great,” Sheard said. “Coach Driesbach talks about Pitt all the time. He has a lot of stories from back when he coached at Pitt.”

Williams, a rookie cornerback, is thankful for Sheard being in the locker room, especially since this is Williams’ first stint in the NFL.

“Jabaal [Sheard] and the other guys showed me the ropes. I’m really proud of Jabaal,” Williams said. “It’s definitely like a Pitt gathering here.”

Sheard still follows his Panthers and is excited to see them start this season off on the right foot by winning their first two games.

“It was good to see them win last Friday [against Boston College],” Sheard said. “I’m happy for them. It’s always good to see them winning. It gives me something to brag on a lot in the locker room.”

Former Panthers offensive guard Jason Pinkston was also a member of the Browns but was forced to retire due to a health problem. Sheard still stays in touch with Pinkston and is happy to say that he is doing fine.

“He’s doing great. I just talked to him last week,” Sheard said. “Pink’s a great dude. He’s always good-spirited and enjoying life. He keeps getting better and better. All we can do is wish him the best.”

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