Friday Report: Davis Preaches Consistency

Dave Carducci reports from Berea, where Butch Davis is preaching consistency, and Dave got a little time to talk to Chaun Thompson and Shaun O'Hara...

BEREA - Butch Davis has preached about consistency every day since the Cleveland Browns first day of training camp, but this week has had a special emphasis.

Davis is just as sick of playing well on the road one week, then struggling the next at home as he is playing a competent or occasionally brilliant brand of defense one game, then allowing an opposing running back to gain 295 yards the next.

"We played well last week and we came back and practiced well this week," said Davis. "It is about being consistent every day, every play, every series, every game, and doing the things we did last week that gave us a chance to win.

"This is a damn good football team we are going to play, and we have to play well ourselves to match the challenges we are going to have on Sunday. We want to play well and we want to play consistent."

According to Davis, a big part of the problem with getting a consistent effort has had to do with the constant shuffling and re-shuffling of the lineup.

Consistency comes "when you are not always, every single week patch-working a particular area," said Davis. "On the offensive line we've had to do that. At quarterback we've had to do that ... Last year, our secondary was forced to do that because of injuries (to Daylon McCutcheon and Corey Fuller). Jamir Miller missed the whole season.

"It took a while for us last year ... We haven't had as many injuries (this year), so hopefully it won't take us until the second half of the season collectively to get 22 guys or our core group of guys to be able to gel and mesh, because that is invaluable. The game experience you take out of each week is invaluable for the next week."

CONSISTENCY UP FRONT ... The Browns are starting to gel up front with the re-vamped line that features Shaun O'Hara at left guard and Paul Zukauskas at right guard.

A few Browns linemen said they felt like their performance against Pittsburgh could compare to last year's line finally starting to put it all together in New Orleans for a second-half run.

"I think it's starting to come together," said O'Hara. "You look at last year, we've lost Dave Wohlabaugh, but Jeff Faine has come in and done a very good job ... Originally, I was going to move to left guard at the start of the year after Ross (Verba) got hurt. Then we tried Melvin (Fowler) there to see if something happened.

"Now this unit is starting to get accustomed to each other. If you look at a lot of the offensive lines who have made it to the Super Bowl, those guys have been together four or five years. You look at Kansas City, and those guys have played together for a while. Every game that you can keep a line together is important because they get to know each other. You have to know each other, and the only way you can get that is by playing and practicing together and working at it."

... O'Hara hopes he has found a home at left guard. The position is a bit more natural for the quick, athletic lineman who is often at his best when he gets out and pulls on running plays.

"I pulled a lot in college (at Rutgers) when I was at left tackle," said O'Hara. "I like to get out and get on a line backer ... and have the chance to open a hole for the running back."

While O'Hara feels the switch to left guard could be a positive move for his career, it still hasn't been all that easy. He compared the transition from the right to the left side of the line to a natural right-hander all of a sudden trying to write with his left hand.

The adjustment has not been as difficult in run blocking as it has been in pass protection, where he is used to driving off a particular leg.

CHAUN GETTING CLOSER ... Second-round pick Chaun Thompson is becoming a force on special teams. Now he is anxious to get his chance at linebacker.

When Thompson first arrived, he thought the difficulty of making the transition from small college to the NFL had been overblown. He expected to make an impact right away.

"These coaches are pretty smart, and they'll know when I'm ready," said Thompson. "It is tough, because every once in a while I get a little taste, and it's not enough to fill me up."

He got a taste in San Francisco, and offered some encouraging signs of growth with his diagnosing a screen and making the play on 49ers running back Garrison Hearst.

"You want to be out there all the time doing things like that, and when you are used to being the man, like I was for three years in college, it's tough to sit and watch," said Thompson. "But I'm learning a lot. One thing that makes it easier is knowing the guys ahead of me can play. We have a whole bunch of athletes, and it's good to have athletes backing up athletes ... When you do get that chance, though, it's like putting a steak in front of a dog. It just makes you more and more hungry."

Thompson is learning from his opportunity on special teams.

"I'm building a lot of confidence from that because I'm learning to be really physical," said Thompson. "But I'm also learning to be precise. I'm learning that if I get my head on the wrong side, it's the difference between a touchdown and a big play coming back."

He may have always been supremely confident in his ability, but it was on special teams where Thompson confirmed to himself that he could play the NFL game.

"In the first game against Indianapolis, right away I made a big tackle on special teams," said Thompson. "I had done some good things in preseason, but when I was in the game, it was usually against other rookies. When I made that play against Indianapolis, that was for real. I knew that it was against their best guys, and I thought to myself, ‘alright man, let's do this.' It was pretty exciting."

HOLCOMB NO. 2? ... While Kelly Holcomb has made progress again, Davis still does not know whether if he will be healthy enough to be the No. 2 quarterback this week.

"We won't know until Sunday," said Davis.

HOME ATTITUDE ... In the past, the Browns have changed a few habits, like warming up on a different side of the field, to try to change their luck at home.

This week, the Browns are "doing as little as possible," according to Davis. Instead of cosmetic changes, Davis wants his players to take on a different attitude.

"It's just about being consistent and playing well regardless," said Davis. "We've played well on the road because I think we have really zeroed in and focused. We've known that when we go to (a visiting) stadium, everybody there hates your guts and it is truly 53 guys against the world. We have to have that same mentality at home."

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