WWBT: Linebackers on the Rise

Optimism continues to grow inside the Berea confines as the Browns young linebacking corps shows improvement. Lane brings you the latest about <I>What We've Been Told</I>...

Defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers has long been a difficult chore for the Cleveland Browns. Under head coach Butch Davis, the Browns have had numerous opportunities to knock off their division rival, only to watch the hated Steelers come from behind repeatedly to defeat the Browns.

The Browns defeat of the Steelers last Sunday night may prove to be one of the biggest games the team plays this season. Granted, the victory came in the fifth week of the season, but the Browns were at a crossroads that Sunday evening in Pittsburgh, and two players the organization had hoped would be part of the foundation of the team stepped-up in a big-way.

While those who follow the team may argue that this victory was just another win, the song chiming through the organization is a dramatically different tune, according to Simply Speaking, our man associated to the organization.

"You have to give it to these guys. We had a good week of practice and knew we could beat them in their house if we played smart football," we were told, "One thing that can be said about this team: We do not make it easy on us or the fans. We are our worst enemy, but coming back like we have shown the tendency to do tells a lot about the character and heart of our team."

"Over the last couple weeks we have begun to feel it.... we know that we are getting closer offensively. If it weren't for the play of the defense, we might be digging our way out of a much bigger hole."

Coming out of the gate quickly, the Browns took the game to the Steelers and did not relent.

"At half-time, we knew that we could not let up. If we did, they would have the opportunity to get back in the game. So much of the game is mental... when you have a team down, you have to keep them there," Simply Speaking said. "There was talk in the locker-room and on the sideline of finishing, see the game to the end, play hard and stay focused. To a man, we were not going to let them (Pittsburgh) do what they did to us in the playoffs."

ROSTER MOVES LOOKING BETTER: The off-season moves by the Browns continue to look better by the week. Linebackers Andra Davis and Ben Taylor have been improving weekly, and the team is getting close to increasing the playing time for rookie linebacker Chaun Thompson, from what we've been told.

"The play of (Andra) Davis and (Ben) Taylor has been about average, maybe a bit better. These are two young guys that are really getting their first taste of the game at this level, what can you say, they are improving by the week," a team source told BerniesInsiders.com. "The one thing you like about these two (players) is that they rarely make the same mistake more than two/three times, they learn from their mistakes and continue to grow. Right now, Davis has played the best of the young linebackers, he has been consistent and made some plays that impact a game."

"We have worked with the young linebackers to stay aware, play within themselves, and be consistent. Taylor has gotten better in these aspects, and he is still learning."

Missing from the discussion has been linebacker Kevin Bentley. Coming off a rookie season of 2002 where he saw the most playing time of the three second-year linebackers to date, he has not been nearly as consistent as the team expects.

"Bentley is an aggressive player. His aggression at times puts him out of position in the defensive scheme, which causes breakdowns in responsibility. We expect a lot from these guys (the linebackers) and we cannot afford to provide the opposition with any advantages," the source continued. "Rookie Chaun Thompson has slowly worked his way into the mix for some playing time. He is a regular on the special teams units and has earned playing time in certain defensive sets. He'll get some time in the rotation at linebacker, spelling Bentley and Taylor."

Since being inserted into the starting lineup replacing the injured Kelly Holcomb, Tim Couch has played as well as he has at any time in his career. From what we've been told, being demoted to the backup role humbled Couch and he has taken a different perspective to the game.

Tim (Couch) may have played his best two-game stretch of football in Cleveland the past two-weeks. He has looked very calm and confident, some of the guys believe that he is much more in command on the field now, from what we've been told.

Additionally, if Couch continues to play at the level he has while replacing Holcomb, Butch Davis just may not want to tinker with the chemistry of the offense, thus leaving Couch in the starting lineup..............of course, that is from what we've been told.

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