Kenard Lang is trying to learn a new position as he switches from defensive end to outside linebacker and he is trying to reshape his body at the same time.
Lang, 30, changed his eating habits to lose weight. He cut fried foods and soda from his diet and is now a lean, agile 254 pounds. That's about 10 pounds lighter than he was last year and 23 pounds lighter than he was in 2002, his first season with the Browns.
Passing camp provides a stage for Lang to learn how to read offenses. For example, the read could tell him whether the player he must cover is going to run a route in the flat or go upfield. He has to pay attention to motion in the backfield. As a defensive end, all he had to worry was the tackle next to him and the play right in front of him.
Lang said the most difficult part physically will be sticking with Ravens tight end Todd Heap and Colts running back Edgerrin James, among others. James, whom the Browns face in the third game of the season, caught 51 passes last year.
"I'd be happy to cover E.J.," Lang said. "I'd be whispering in his ear the whole day. That means I'd be right on top of him. That would be cool.
"I understand teams might (test me). If I was an offensive coordinator and I have a new person out there, I'd want to test him. Once he makes a couple plays, you might decide to throw that fish back in the water and try to find another fish."
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham says Lang is on schedule. Lang is competing for playing time with Matt Stewart, an outside linebacker acquired from Atlanta in free agency.
"Nothing Kenard has done on the field has told me he can't do it," Grantham said. "Only time will tell, based upon what happens in training camp and how he performs in preseason games, but he's the kind of guy you want on your team because he's very unselfish. He might not do it right all the time, but he makes progress every day."
Lang started the last 15 games at right end in 2004. He led all defensive linemen with 73 tackles, was second behind Ebenezer Ekuban (eight) with seven sacks and second to Ekuban (28) with 21 quarterback pressures.
As an end in the 4-3 defense the Browns played under Butch Davis, Lang often lined up outside the offensive tackle to beat him around the corner. The ends in the 3-4 go head-on with the blocker. Orpheus Roye and Alvin McKinley, the projected starting defensive ends, weigh 320 pounds and 310 pounds respectively.