When I met Cleveland Browns left guard, Jason Pinkston a couple of years ago, I saw a humble man that was ready to embrace the NFL and his new team. Drafted in the fifth round in 2011, Pinkston was a star at the University of Pittsburgh and was considered one of the best offensive linemen in the senior class of 2010. The Browns stole him with the 150th overall pick.
In a new offense, he went on to play and start all 16 games in his rookie season. Last season, Pinkston played the first six games, then developed a life threatening blood clot in his lung. The thing about the reserved man is his love for the game, his love for the team, and his appreciation for his supporters. I spoke with Pinkston about the upcoming season, the fans of Cleveland, and his passion for Indians baseball.
R: How excited are you for the upcoming season?
JP: This has been one of the most exciting seasons I have been getting ready for. Out of all the years I’ve played football, this is probably the biggest one.
R: What do you or have you done to prepare for Training Camp?
JP: I didn’t really travel anywhere this year. I trained with LeCharles Bentley and stayed here at the football facilities in Cleveland. I trained with my teammates, Oneil Cousins and Dominic Alford.
R: Do you feel more comfortable in this offense as opposed to the previous?
JP: I haven’t really been in this offense too long to say yet. But, as far as things are going this year, this is definitely more of an exciting offense than what we have been in the last two years. I like how the guys are really buying in to the offense and to what Coach Turner and Coach Chud want to do. It can be a really high powered offense if everyone is on the same page.
R: Can you describe what happened last year with your health.
JP: Training went really well heading into (last) season. I felt like it was the best lifting experience since I played football. I felt I was having a really good camp and then after the first game everything started to go downhill from there. I lost a lot of weight before that first game. I was originally at 318 (lbs) and I played that game at 306 (lbs). I knew something was wrong but couldn’t figure out what it was. The Thursday night Baltimore game is when I really started to feel it. They thought it was bronchitis. The Cincinnati game, that’s when it really hit and had ultrasounds done to find the problem.
R: It seems like a lot of fans feel the Browns are so close. How do you feel about how close your team is?
JP: I feel like this is a huge year for us. I believe we can be better than .500. I think we can be better than that. We can do a lot of special things and believe in the offense. We just have to come to training camp and everybody just be on the same page. So everyone has being buying in and doing all the extra things. We have been talking about winning. If you don’t talk about winning then you’re never gonna win. Collectively as a group of men, we have never been closer than we are now. We have enough talent on both offense and defense to where there is no reason why we cannot compete and win the AFC North. I have high hopes for us and this going to be one of those years where we actually surprise a lot of people.
R: You know as well as I do that the Browns could have won 2-3 more games in the last two seasons…
JP: Absolutely. There have been four or five games in the last two years where we would let games slip away in the fourth quarter. And, it’s kind of weird because those things happened to me in college. It reminds me of some seasons in college.
R: If you could describe Cleveland Browns fans, how would you do it?
JP: They are the most passionate fans for their team. They have been let down so many times and they still stick by you. The want a winning team and put so much effort in backing us. They are tired of being talked about as a bad team. We just want to come through for them and the city of Cleveland and bring them back their team. Deep down, they are on our side and they want us to win. And, that’s what we’re supposed to do.
R: They wear their hearts on their sleeves..
JP: Absolutely. There’s nothing wrong with that. We want to be winners here in this town. We want to win games. That makes the fans lives’ better, they may have had a bad week, but if we win on Sunday and they have a great Monday, then that’s what it’s about.
R: As a big Cleveland Indians fan, how far do you think they will go in 2013?
JP: Honestly, I could see the Indians in the World Series this year. I love the team and they are never out of any game. The have a lot of fight to them.
R: Good luck in camp and on the season Jason.
JP: Thank you.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber: Digital Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @ryanpruiz24. Ryan is also a Cleveland Browns correspondent for TheSports Fix and you can hear him every Friday at noon on www.thesportsfix.net.