On the Inside: McLain on Finding Defensive Help

<p>There might be some credence to rumors that the Browns have an interest in defensive tackle La'Roi Glover and middle linebacker London Fletcher. <p>

There might be some credence to rumors that the Browns have an interest in defensive tackle La'Roi Glover and middle linebacker London Fletcher.

While most conjecture has the Browns targeting offensive help, particulary along the line, changes are in store on the defensive side. Defensive coordinator Foge Fazio didn't drop names, but he was clear in describing what direction the defense has to take in the offseason.

"We made some improvement, but we still have a little ways to go," Fazio said. "We have to strenghten up some areas. Naturally, we want to get another big defensive lineman, another linebacker, if we could, and a safety."

Glover's name has come up since he became a victim of the salry-cap crunch in New Orleans. Glover is young (27) and still among the better tackles in the league. He had 36 tackles last season, including eight sacks. The combined sack total for Browns tackles last season was seven.

The addition of a tackle was thought to be to strengthen the defense against the rush and give Gerard Warren help on the inside. With the possible loss of end Keith McKenzie in free agency, the thinking might be geared to bringing in someone who can bolster the pass rush.

The big run stopper the Browns are looking for might be on their roster. Fazio indicated that Marcus Spriggs was penciled in to play next to Warren last season, but that plan never materialized because Spriggs missed the entire season with an arm injury.

Then there's Fletcher, who has been a prime figure in the middle of the St. Louis Rams defense. Reports out of St. Louis say that the Rams would like to re-sign Fletcher, but they're hesitant about committing big-time dollars to a good middle linebacker, but not a great one.

THAT'S INTERESTING: A member of the Browns' organization was asked recently who the Browns might target with their first draft pick. Two names – and only two – were mentioned: Boston College running back William Green and Michigan State running back T.J. Duckett. Hmmm. Could it be a smoke screen, or are the Browns serious about upgrading the position. With the Browns one of three teams that have expressed an interest in Saints running back Ricky Williams, it appears that there could be a new face in the backfield next season.

By the way, Green's name was mentioned before Duckett's name. Just a thought.

SLOWING DOWN: If something is going to happen on the Williams' trade front, it appears that it will have to come down quickly. Saints general manager Randy Mueller wants to clear up the situation as soon as possible. Reported stumbling blocks in talks with Miami could mean that Williams will remain a Saint.

"At some point we're going to have to move on because I don't think it's fair to Ricky to have this ongoing," Mueller told The Times-Picayune. "And I think we're getting to that point right now."

MOVING BACK: Lewis Sanders, who missed all of last season because of leg surgery, could be tested at safety. Sanders looked outstanding in coverage at cornerback in his rookie season of 2000, but nagging injuries limited him to 11 games.

Earl Little, who started at strong safety last season, raves about Sanders' speed. With Corey Fuller, Anthony Henry and Daylon McCutcheon (a restricted free agent) in the mix on the corners, moving to free safety might be a possibility for Sanders.

The concern with Sanders remains durability. He sat out the entire 1998 season at Maryland while recovering from shoulder surgery.

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