BEREA, Ohio—The Browns defense isn’t being looked at through a microscope, nor a telescope and it’s certainly not coming to you live on Periscope.
Instead, Cleveland’s defense is being evaluated through a kaleidoscope, or so says defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
“We are moving guys around,” Horton said. “I would use the term ‘kaleidoscope.'”
For those unfamiliar, a kaleidoscope is a lens into which a viewer looks to see different shapes and designs. Those shapes shift with a turn of the tube through which the objects are viewed.
As Horton looks into the lens at the Browns defense this season, he’s trying to turn the kaleidoscope to find the most beautiful design possible.
"I want us to have guys that are interchangeable because I don't know what was are going to be yet,” Hortons said. “We are going to be a ever-changing defense until we find out what we do best and put the players in that position.”
Take for instance rookie DE Emmanuel Ogbah, who the Browns planned to use at outside linebacker this season.
Instead, following the loss of Desmond Bryant for the season with a pectoral tear, Horton feels it would be best for the former Oklahoma State Cowboy to move back to his collegiate position-- defensive end.
It’s moves such as these that Horton will continue to tinker with during Training Camp and while he changes the personnel, he’s keeping the base very much the same.
The Browns will run a 3-4— a defense featuring three down linemen and four linebackers— which Horton believes the group should pick up quickly due to familiarity.
“Whether you are in Denver 3-4, Tennessee 3-4, Pittsburgh's 3-4, it’s all the same,” Horton said. “So, yes it should be comfortable.”
Horton is relying on the veterans of the defense— namely Demario Davis, Christian Kirksey, Paul Kruger and Tramon Williams— to help the younger players to learn the terminology.
If anything is different about the Cleveland 3-4, it’s the way things are worded.
“I take my gauge by the young guys,” Horton said. “I teach it to the rookies. If they can understand this concept I know the veterans can.”
Thus far, Horton has been very impressed with the group of veterans that is teaching a big crop of young players.
Not only has the coordinator noticed the way in which the veterans are handling the rookies on the field, but he likes the way they’re guiding them off the field as well.
“I am proudest of our veterans. They have taken ownership of how to teach these young rookies how to be pros,” Horton said. “Not how to run a sprint but how to come in the classroom, how to take notes, how to be on time and that's the foundation of having a good team is when your veterans teach these young players this is what being a NFL player is all about.”
Horton believes that Cleveland’s kaleidoscope is turning into shape as the season begins, but he feels that the unit too has a long way to go.
He expressed that belief using another comparison.
“I use the analogy of an airplane on a runway,” Horton said. “We got a long runway, so its not like we got to get off the ground right now.”
Be it a kaleidoscope or a plane on a runway, the Browns defense is clearly a work in progress.
Horton believes, however, that the unit will be ready to make Cleveland proud when the regular season begins.
“We are not where we want to be, by any means,” Horton said, “but I think we are on pace to go where we want to go."
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