Throughout the Browns' training camp in Berea, Bernie's Insiders will focus on players' thoughts as they get ready for the 2005 National Football League season. We will bring you periodic bytes as the players conclude practice and meet with the media. These will include the words of veterans and rookies alike as coach Romeo Crennel and his staff puts together the best 53-man roster.
Q – A little warm out here?
A – Not for me, I'm from Arizona right now.
Q – How was it looking out there today?
A – I think we had a good practice as a team. We were working hard. This is the first building block. There's a lot of room for us to get better. We don't have a lot of time. This requires us to practice hard, practice fast and practice smart and I think we've got the right group of guys to do that.
Q – Is it a little too early to compare this to the Arizona Cardinals (his former team) in the way they approached training camp?
A – I'm going to leave all that stuff alone. I'm going to leave Arizona where it is – in my rearview mirror. I wish those guys the best of luck. The last thing I want to start doing here is comparing this program to theirs because really, it's not fair.
Q – Your dad (Lonnie Shelton) played basketball for the Cavaliers. Now you're here playing for the Browns. Did your dad ever talk you about Cleveland?
A – He talked to me a little about Cleveland. He told me to stay out of a spot downtown where he had to beat some guy up one time. Told me not to go down that way. Coincidentally, Marcus Spears and I . . that was the first place we went to eat when we came to town. So I didn't know until after we ate there. I'm not going back. It was good food . . . before I knew where it was.
Q – Have you been here long enough to get a pulse of the town and how hungry these people are for a winner?
A – Definitely. It's more than I'm used to, but greatly appreciated. This is how it should be when you're playing professional football. You've got fans behind you who expect the most out of you. It's a new experience for me, but I am enjoying it.
Q – In what way is the team going to be different this year?
A – We have great coaching, we have leaders and now what we have to do is play the game and play it well. . . . not a lot of mistakes, not a lot of penalties, playing smart football, which is something we haven't done. That's one of our main focuses – playing smart.
Q – Can you tell there's a difference with the offensive line this year?
A – Yeah, there's a difference. We have a lot of vets, a lot more leadership than we've had, a lot more experience overall, from the quarterback, the O-line, just night and day from where we were. I know everybody is really excited and we all want to win more than anything.
Q – You've been here long enough to know what the other side (winning a Super Bowl) is like. Would that be extra incentive for you?
A – I've been . . . and I want to go back. More than anything. I'm asked what drives me and that's it, that Super Bowl ring. That's what we all want out here. We just don't want to be better and win a couple of more games than we did last year. We want to get into the playoffs and give ourselves an opportunity to put that big old hunk of metal on your finger.
Q – Is there anything you do that shows you want to be a part of that team? (Davis' name has come up in trade talks.)
A – All you do is go out there and work hard. For me, I'm under contract with the Browns right now. Nothing's going to change about that unless the Browns change it. There's nothing I can do. I'm not going to be one of those guys who complains to the media and talks about how bad the situation is here. I'm going to go out and work hard. If they deal me away, they deal me away. I'm going to deal with it and move on. It's not going to be a life-or-death situation for me.
Q – Anything you'd like to be better at this season?
A – Just everything. Just the game of football. Being smarter, learning the plays, knowing what everybody's doing on the field and trying to be on the same page as (quarterback) Trent (Dilfer).
Q – What are the coaches telling you? Are they trying to keep your spirits up?
A – They don't tell me anything. I truly don't believe the coaches don't have anything to do with it. All I know is I have to go out there and continue to work hard. It's almost flattering to know other teams may be interested as well. At the same time, I'm part of the Cleveland Browns organization right now. I plan on being that way the rest of this season until I hear otherwise. . . . If change comes, I'm prepared for that change. Nothing's going to catch me off guard. I realize it might just be a business decision and I just have to roll with the punches.
Q – Did you evolve into being a nose tackle?
A – I've played the position ever since high school. We played some 3-4, but mostly 4-3, but I've always been over the center in one capacity or another. It's kind of my natural position. That's how I started and I did well. My high school coach was a defensive tackle who played some pro ball and he saw right away where he wanted to have me.
Q – Is nose tackle the key position ion the defensive line?
A – I wouldn't say it's the key position. If it breaks down, you've got some trouble. All three interior guys have to be solid. The center of the line is where the first play can hit. Outside, you have a little more time to recover.
Q – Keep your linebackers as clean as possible?
A – That's mostly the idea. Eat up the double teams, let them hopefully run free and make some tackles.
Q – You're going to being playing more this year than you did last year in San Diego. Is this something you're ready for?
A – Last year was the first year I hadn't played a lot. When we went to the 3-4 defense out (in San Diego), I was a nose – we had Jamal Williams; he's a monster – and he and I shared time a little bit. I'm looking forward to being out there and being more involved in the games.
Q – It looks as though you might be involved in a lot of goal-line stuff this year. Do you envision a jumbo backfield (you and Terrelle Smith) down near the goal line this year?
A – That's one of the things we're trying to improve on, obviously our short-yardage game and our red-zone game. We struggled a little bit in the past. What we're trying to do right now is get more involved in that. That's a key to the game anytime you get down into the red zone and the short-yardage game.
Q – Coach Crennel says he wants to pound the ball this year. That's got to make you feel pretty good.
A—That makes all of us feel pretty good. As a running back, you always want to hear that you're going to get the ball a lot. Just gets you excited because that's what you love and you're born and bred to do. When you run the ball, you're just like a kid in a candy store again.
A – What we're trying to do out here is make each other better. We know we're in competition with each other. We all want to start. There's no doubt about that. We want to win and obviously it's going to take all three of us to win.
Q – You're competing for a position (fullback), but you also bring some versatility to your bid to make the roster.
A – I played offensive tackle in college, can play H (tight end), so blocking at the line of scrimmage is more common to me than from the backfield. I'm just doing what I'm asked to do here.
Q – Where do you think your best shot at making this team is? What position?
A – My best shot to make it is doing everything – doing a little tight end, doing some fullback, long snapping, playing all the special teams. That's going to be how I'm going to be of value.
Q – Did you long snap in college?
A – I backed up a little bit. I had a broken thumb in college, so it was a little hard to do it.
Q – Did the Browns know you long-snapped?
A – They spent me over to NFL Europe this past spring. I was the only long snapper for the Hamburg Sea Devils. I'm just making the most of my opportunity right now. I'm getting great experience in practice right now. I've done it here in camp the last couple of years, but I can't say I was very good at it. This year, I've focused on it and feel I've gotten a lot, lot better. The hard work is kind of paying off.