He understands that he’s a longshot. Maybe the longest of longshots.
“Yeah, it would be a great story if it happens, but he has to come and show that he deserves to be here,” Dorsey said.
Sheehy-Guiseppi is 24. He hasn’t played competitive football since 2016. And even then, it wasn’t that competitive. Being in Berea for OTAs has highlighted the chasm between junior college and the NFL.
“It’s definitely way different than I thought,” he said. “You’re training and it’s like, ‘Yeah, I think I’m capable of doing this.’ And when you get here it’s eye-opening. It’s all these little details that you don’t think of until you get here. You have to figure out all the details and really work to learn all the things you need to learn on the fly. You get the playbook, and then an hour later you have to go perform it on the field.”
To Sheehy-Guiseppi, returning a kick was always pretty straight-forward. “I thought it was you just catch the ball, and you just run,” he said. That worked at Phoenix, where led the nation in kick-return yards (1,278) and return touchdowns (four) in 2016.
But the NFL is something different.
“Now here there’s techniques that helps you catch the ball and make a move faster,” he said. “It’s like, you’re already fast, but if you catch the ball cleaner, you get going faster. Those little details, I never knew about.”
At OTAs, Sheehy-Guiseppi has run drills with the wide receivers, operating with a third-team group that includes Jaelen Strong, Ishmael Hyman and Dorian Baker. As a returner, he’s competing with Antonio Callaway, Dontrell Hilliard and D’Ernest Johnson.
With the Browns’ wide receiver unit being so deep, Sheehy-Guiseppi is likely looking at a special teams role as his path to the final 53.
“If Damon is going to be the guy, then he has to play on more than just return phases,” said special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. “You have to be a guy that is going to help us in the cover phases, as well.”
Last Wednesday, Priefer praised Sheehy-Guiseppi’s positioning during a faux-tackling drill for special-teamers. Later, in seven-on-seven drills, he caught a pass from Garrett Gilbert with third-round pick Sione Takitaki on his back.
Still, showing what he can do on returns in preseason games will likely be Sheehy-Guiseppi’s best shot at a roster spot. And even then, a lack of experience might have him destined for a practice squad.
“No matter what opportunity I’m given, I want to become the greatest,” he said. “If it’s practice squad, I want to become the greatest practice squad player.”
As Wednesday’s practice ended and players headed for the locker room, Sheehy-Guiseppi stayed after and joined a handful of teammates catching kicks shot from a JUGS machine. After that, he moved to a far practice field with cornerback Robert Jackson, who spent last season on the Texans’ and Browns’ practice squads.
Again and again, Sheehy-Guiseppi lined up for an imaginary play and practiced getting off the line of scrimmage against Jackson. Eventually, they were the only two players left on the field.
Confidence and speed got him here. But Sheehy-Guiseppi knows that if there’s a movie ending out there for him, he’ll have to work for it.