Secondary Showing their Strength

Veteran leadership and fast-learning youngsters could lead to something special in 2015...

BEREA, Ohio—The Browns secondary has been very impressive thus far in the early going of the off-season program—and that is without the ball-hawking Pro Bowl safety Tashaun Gipson, who’s still missing due to a contract dispute.

The defensive backs were getting their hands on a lot of passes thrown by the Browns quarterbacks Tuesday during OTAs—whether that’s an indictment on the quarterbacks or not remains to be seen.

Including Gipson, three quarters of the starting secondary made the Pro Bowl last year in Joe Haden, Donte Whitner and Gipson. Tramon Williams is a former Pro Bowl cornerback with the Packers, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Browns this off-season.

“That’s a good group,” Mike Pettine said. “Tramon Williams brings a wealth of experience. He understands what we’re trying to get done. He’s played in similar systems and they’ve put the time in and the meeting room time and it carries over into the team work and it has those guys are doing a good job and they’re certainly ahead of the curve.”

Haden likes the idea of the secondary setting the tone for the defense.

“It’s par for the course,” Haden said. “We usually get our hand on a lot of balls.”

Haden said he feels very comfortable being the leader of the group.

“I feel like with me and Donte, Tramon is such a vet. I feel very comfortable talking with the players. We’re familiar with the scheme and the coaches.

“It feels good though because you know what kind of guys you have around us,” Haden said. “The talent we have with Donte, Tramon, K’Waun (Williams), Justin (Gilbert), Pierre (Desir) coming along.”

Haden said he’s hopeful that Gipson will get the contract situation settled and be able to rejoin the team soon.

“I hope it’s going to be okay, but when Gip gets out there he’s got a spot.”

Gipson earned a trip to his first Pro Bowl after leading the NFL for much of the season with six interceptions, despite missing the final five games with a season-ending knee injury.

Haden is enthusiastic about the return of Gilbert and Williams for their second seasons. Haden worked with Gilbert in the off-season was asked if he saw a difference in him this year.

“I see a big difference, for sure” Haden said. “His work ethic, he’s more comfortable and just going and making plays.”

Gilbert was the Browns top pick last year but had a disappointing rookie season.

“I definitely see a change, but it’s too early,” Pettine said. “It’s all about consistency and attention to detail and the want to.”

Haden is very impressed with Williams and his ability to play in the slot.

“He’s one of the best nickel backs I’ve seen, as far as playing in the slot,” Haden said “He makes plays and is very physical.”

Pettine said Williams is already showing even more in his second season.

“He’s made a big leap,” Pettine said. “We have high expectations for him.”

Williams is excited for his second season.

“Our defense has a lot of good players and we want to keep it going this year.”

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