The Indianapolis Colts travel to Cleveland this weekend to take on the 7-5 Browns, and the game should be a good one on-the-field between a team that is going to make the playoffs this year and a team that is right in the thick of the battle for a spot. There's another storyline this week in advance of the game, however, and it's of the several Colts that have ties to the Browns organization.
For the Colts, starting inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, starting safety Mike Adams, starting running back Trent Richardson, kick returner Josh Cribbs, head coach Chuck Pagano, and assistant coaches Rob Chudzinski and Alfredo Roberts all have spent time with the Browns in their careers. And now all are with the Colts, hoping to notch a win in Cleveland this weekend.
D'Qwell Jackson, who is the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week, spent the first eight seasons of his career in Cleveland with the Browns (2006-2013) before coming to Indianapolis this offseason. "I was drafted there. I spent a lot of time there. At one point, I thought I was going to finish my career there," Jackson said, per Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com. "Things obviously have changed. Things have been good for me here. Going back, in a sense it's almost like playing a home game away from home. I'm used to that stadium. I'm used to the elements. It's where I played the majority of my career. It's going to be good to see the guys that I built a lot of relationships with. But once the whistle blows, it's down to football."
Josh Cribbs, who will be playing in his third game for the Colts after spending the first eight years of his career (2005-2012) with the Browns. He talked about how much Cleveland and the Browns mean to him. "You'll definitely see me in the stadium hugging fans," Cribbs said, per Marla Ridenour of Ohio.com. "If I had the opportunity to score, I would jump in the Dawg Pound to hug those guys who helped create me and helped give me the strength and the motivation to become what I am today."
While Cribbs said he'd jump in the Dawg Pound if he scores, safety Mike Adams (who played for the Browns from 2007-2011) added that, "I don't think that would be a good idea. We know how those fans are. They're serious about their Dawg Pound."
Colts running back Trent Richardson was originally drafted third overall by the Browns in 2012 but then traded just two games into the 2012 season to Indianapolis for a first round pick. "Cleveland came for me and there's no way that I can repay them for doing that," Richardson said, again per Marla Ridenour of Ohio.com. "Saying that, they gave up on me. When I talked to them, they told me it was just a business move because there was nothing that they could help me on as far as the run game. I'm going into this game like it's my last one."
Richardson added that then-Browns head coach and current special assistant to Chuck Pagano with the Colts, Rob Chudzinksi, was just as surprised at the trade as Richardson was. He was shocked like I was. He didn't understand it at all," Richardson said.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano worked as the Browns' secondary coach from 2001-2004, his first job in the NFL (where he worked with Bruce Arians, who was Cleveland's offensive coordinator from 2001-2003). Pagano has fond memories of the city and the franchise. "We loved living there, lived in a place called Strongsville about seven miles away from the facility in Berea," Pagano said. "Great time there, four years there. The kids loved it, my wife loved it. Great city. Great fan base. It was a good experience. That was my first four years in the league so I had a great experience there."
When the Colts travel to Cleveland this weekend to take on the Browns, the focus will be purely on getting another win. For several players and coaches, however, it will be a return to a city and a franchise with which they are very familiar.