Is there anything special I need to do prior to flashing this rom (4.4 going back to 4.3) so I do not brick or lock my phone? Or should I do what we usually do..
No need for anything special, flash the way you normally would. Since Cleanrom 8.1 is based on the ML1 update from Verizon, I would also flash the ML1 modem: http://d-h.st/AuP. You can do that either before or after flashing Cleanrom.
XDA Developers was founded by developers, for developers. It is now a valuable resource for people who want to make the most of their mobile devices, from customizing the look and feel to adding new functionality. Are you a developer?