Like a Hurricane...

While fans may be nervous about going into the 2003 season without last year's starting group, Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis seems very happy with the young players acquired in the last two drafts. David Carducci and other reporters met with Butch today and heard about how the Browns linebackers are similar to others in Davis' coaching past...

Linebacker may be perceived as a major weak spot for the Cleveland Browns considering the release of last year's entire starting unit and the youth and inexperience of their replacements, but the position doesn't appear to be one of Butch Davis' biggest worries.

As his team closed its 13th and final quarterback school practice Wednesday, Davis said "we could play this Sunday with the young guys we've got."

While he once said he could consider adding a veteran to supplement the linebacking corps, Davis now claims the Browns will most likely not add another free agent linebacker. He is convinced youngsters Kevin Bentley, Andra Davis and Ben Taylor, and even raw rookie Chaun Thompson, are ready to contribute right away.

"I've had a lot of things that were brand new that were really good," said Davis. "Just because it is new and young, that doesn't make it bad."

Davis' belief is that the young linebackers are more than capable of making the plays if what he considers to be a "very deep defensive line" lives up to its potential.

"I think that every linebacker, it doesn't matter who they are, will all benefit if our defensive line plays the way it is capable of playing," said Davis. "Every linebacker benefits from playing behind a good defensive line. If Gerard (Warren), Orpheus (Roye) and all those guys have the kind of season they are capable of playing. And we have to have some luck. We have to have Courtney (Brown) stay healthy and the rest of those guys make strides the way they should make, then tose lienbackers will be fine. If the defensive line doesn't play well, then it wouldn't make difference if we had three all-pros making tackles nine yards downfield."

After spending two seasons trying to create schemes to make the most of linebackers like Miller, Holmes and Hambrick, who have only average speed, Davis finally has a corps of linebackers with the characteristics he wants in the position.

"This group is a lot closer to the types of linebackers I've been associated with in the past," said Davis. "Coaching at Miami, going back to 1984, through all the years in Dallas, these guys are athletically similar to what I am used to. Guys who are 6-foot to 6-3, 230 to 245 pounds, and can all run fast. They are all 4.5 to 4.6 (second) guys. They all have the versatility where you don't have to substitute. It gives guys a chance to be every down players and major contributors.

"No disrespect to the guys we lost, but we lost guys who were absolutely non-factors on special teams. We got nothing out of Jamir, who wasn't a special teams guy. Earl Holmes was not a special teams guy. Darrin Hambrick was not a special teams guy. Subsequently, all the guys who are here now, not only can they all be starters (at linebacker), they can all be impact guys on special teams. It expands your 45-man roster on Sundays by three or four guys."

If the Browns do end up adding a linebacker just prior to the start of training camp, Davis said it would not be Darrin Hambrick.

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