Mike on Chaun Thompson's Progress and More!

Mike McLain offers his thoughts on Chaun Thompson's progress (is he ready?) and the team's prospects in this selection of Mike's answers to recent questions in Ask the Insiders. Subscribe today, and get unfiltered answers your questions from the guys who track the team every day, talk to the players, and look beyond the spin...

Lumpy: With Chaun Thompson being in the defense for almost a year now, and his elevation to starting--=-during the recent QB schools and mini camps, is there any sense he is catching on to Campo's defense. He surely must realize by now that he can't count on his athleticism alone like he did in college. How is his gap integrity? Is he filling where he should and is his recognition better? Is he still over running plays or shooting the wrong hole? And how is his pass coverage? Last of all, are the coaches pleased with any progress they see?

Mike: Butch has said that he's pleased with Thompson's progress, but what else would you expect him to say?

As for the progress he's making, it's so hard to gauge when we've seen just a few practices. It's best to wait until training camp to get a better feel for how he's doing.

That being said, in watching him at the mini-camp and at quarterback school, he still seems to be late in his reactions. I saw him swinging his arms in disgust after a play too many times.

Maybe I'm seeing things wrong, but I think he has a ways to go.

I can tell you that he learned a lesson last year in realizing that his athleticism won't solely carry him. He knows he has to study hard and practice hard if he's going to make it on this level.

Hound09: Just looking at the Brown's upcoming schedule, and man does it look tough. I think the Brown's are good enough to go 8-8 and with a few breaks win 10 games. The one thing I noticed in the schedule is that there are only a few strong passing teams. Most of the teams are strong defensively and have strong running games. This does not bode well if the current tradition of weak running defense continues by the brown's. I know it is early but was wondering to get some insider breakdown on the schedule or key games in the schedule?

Mike: I can't think of a better season-opening opponent to gauge where the Browns are than Baltimore. The Ravens, as we all know, run the ball well, and they yield yards on the ground begrudingly.

If the Browns win the opener, it will bode well for the rest of the season.

Another key is that the Browns have yet to win an opener (all a home) since their return in 1999. This team simply is bad at home. If they can defeat a division foe before the home fans, it could provide a strong springboard to better times.

Last year at this time the fear was about all the great receivers the Browns would face (Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, Torry Holt, etc.) For the most part, the secondary held up well to that challenge.

There's no question that the key to the coming season is stopping the run. The offense will score more points. If the defense can step up its play, .500 should be easily achieved.

Mojo1011: Okay, with all this chatter about looking underneath rocks for competition at the safety position ever since S.Jones went down has me feeling pretty insecure about our DBs. Can't we just face the facts and admit we are going to have the WORSE group of safeties once again and B.Davis knows it? Let it all out!!!!

Barry: Well, based on Davis' comments to the press, he thinks Crocker has made great strides this off-season so, without Jones, my guess is that he'll hang his hat on that to say the team is in better shape.

I think we'll all be interested in seeing if Kentrell Curry is a good find for the team as well, but Jones would definately have contended for a starting job... by the end of the season, if not sooner.

Mike: If I'm Butch Davis, I'd be very worried about the safeties. There isn't a big hitter among the group, let alone a sure tackler.

Chris Crocker has shown decent coverage skills, but he's not a natural strong safety. He lacks the necessary physical size, and he's never been known as an intimidating tackler.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think the cornerback positions are in capable hands. Granted, there's not a shutdown cover corner among the group, but there are several guys that are above average.

McCutcheon and Henry are solid starters, and I really like what I've seen of Michael Lehan. The concern about Lehan is his inability to stay healthy.

Roosevelt Williams and Leigh Bodden were solid additions last season. Look for Williams to step up and be the third corner this season.

Orange in Pa: Here is what I am wondering:

Why are we getting so much dis-respect from every anylist , sports writer, NFL Football preview magazine, sports TV show...etc, that we could possibly get when it comes to how well our beloved Browns are going to do this year? Is our OLINE really going to be that bad? Does Butch really know what he is doing? Why haven't we had a good number one pick in eons? Did we pay too much for Garcia? (And for that matter) Should we have let Couch go?

Mike: I don't want to say that the Browns are headed towards an 11-win season and the AFC Championship, but I'm not as down on them as are many of the national writers.

So many analysts seem to look beyond the Browns stable of running backs, a group that could be one of the best in the NFL. No one mentions that Lee Suggs is healthy and looked great in practices. No one seems to notice the way William Green has turn his life around.

In addressing Kellen Winslow, so many people say the team shouldn't have given up so much to move up one spot in the draft. First of all, they regained their lost second-round choice and landed a good safety (unfortunately, we won't see Sean Jones this year). Secondly, if Winslow has Hall of Fame potential, you do what you have to do to get him. So what if you can't draft a second-tier offensive tackle in the second round.

I was a believer in Tim Couch from the start, and I still think he might develop into a winner. At the same time, I think he had to go. Couch never looked comfortable playing in Cleveland, probably because of the high expectations fans had of him as the first overall pick.

The offensive line should be better with the return of Ross Verba, the arrival of Garmon and another year for guys like Beasley, DeMar and Fowler. However, if injuries hit this area hard, Jeff Garcia's scrambling skills will be put to good use.

I agree with skeptics that the defense doesn't look noticeably better. What Butch is counting on is improvement in the young linebackers (especially Chaun Thompson), a healthy season for Courtney Brown and a big year from Gerard Warren.

Warren has talked a big game in recent years, but the results haven't been seen on the field. I will say this for Gerard. He's clearly in the best shape I've seen him in since he's been in Cleveland.

The big problem on defense is at the safey spots. You have to cringe when thinking of Griffith and Little trying to tackle Jamal Lewis in the opener.

If the Browns can avoid a lot of major injuries, they should be around .500. If Winslow and Garcia are as good as advertised, it could be a winning season.


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