Owl: "Team" Matters

Our feathered friend talks about how the Browns locker room shows a fundamental change in the composition of the team. Some previously-unreported incidents from last year illustrate how far the team seems to have come in understanding what "team" really means...

The Owl has flown over a lot of minicamps as his feathers have lost their sheen and he's grown a little long in the beak. In fact, he's been flying so long they didn't even have June minicamps when he started, or if they did he can't remember them.

The one the Browns just concluded wasn't a whole lot different than the others. The initial impression is you can't tell how good a player is in shorts, but if he is having problems in shorts chances are he isn't going to look great in pads.

Safety Sean Jones looked good. So did defensive back Leigh Bodden and cornerback Michael Lehan. Reuben Droughns doesn't seem to have a chip on his shoulder, which could be the case since he didn't get the raise he wants, and tight ends Steve Heiden and Aaron Shea look ready to take up the slack of not having Kellen Winslow Jr.

Antonio Bryant still drops too many passes and, to be honest, Charlie Frye is going to need a lot of work before he's ready to play in the NFL.

But what I really came to tell you about today is the locker room. There's a good feeling in this locker room, one that is much better than either of the past two, and maybe better even than the one from 2002, when the Browns made the playoffs for the first and only time since their rebirth.

Some nasty players were in the locker room last year. Teasing is okay. It goes on all the time. But there are different kinds of teasing. Some offensive linemen crossed the line last year when they teased Kirk Chambers about being Mormon. It was so stupid and ridiculous I'm not going to waste any more space or time expounding on it.

Not because they teased Chambers, but those players are gone.

Other players that were not what the NFL wants to put up as shining examples are gone. We don't need to name names, but since readers of Berniesinsiders.com are pretty astute, you can probably guess who we're talking about. Just make sure you eliminate Courtney Brown as a possible suspect.

A couple days ago Kenard Lang was holding court, as he does so well, and Shea happened to walk by, outside the wide circle of reporters around Lang. Lang was talking about the difficulties of pass coverage in his new role as an outside linebacker, and then he spotted Shea and cracked a joke about Shea being easy to cover. He said it with a twinkle in his eye to make sure everybody knew he was joking. Those are the kinds of things you like to see. The reporters laughed, because Shea is one of the good guys, too.

This is a group that seems like it could really be a team. We have heard for years about the New England Patriots as a whole being greater than the some of their parts. In other words, their crown isn't studded with Pro Bowlers, yet they've won three of the last four Super Bowls because they play together.

Does that mean The Owl is saying this is a Super Bowl team? Of course not. But I'm guessing the massive rip up and rebuild that characterized the 2005 offseason won't be repeated next winter. Coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Phil Savage want this group to grow together. It won't be a team if it is ripped apart again.

Lest we forget, the biggest difference between this team and 2004 is in the row of locker stalls just to the left of the door as one walks into the locker room. That's where the quarterbacks dress.

We won't drag Jeff Garcia through his own mud again. But Trent Dilfer gets it. Dilfer knows it's all about the team. It's not about what Trent Dilfer wants.

It could be a long season, because a lot of growing is needed. But keep the faith. Because the Browns are now a team, things are going to get better.

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