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 – You lost a lot of weight from last season. Why?
A – I needed to lose some weight because I'm going to be moving around a lot more.
Q – Did you do this on your own or at the suggestion of the coaches?
A – A little bit of everything. I feel better this way.
Q – What were you up to?
A – I was like about 265-268. Now, I'm at like 240-245.
Q – When you were at New Orleans, were you up that high or down closer to where you are right now?
A – I was between 245 and 250. Last year, they wanted me to be a head-smasher. This year, I'm going to be that and other stuff so we'll see how it goes.
Q – It appeared as though they misused you last season.
A – Definitely. I don't think that's going to happen this year.
Q – Why not?
A – Because first of all, our offensive coordinator (Maurice Carthon) was a fullback. He's a tough offensive coordinator. He wants us to do well and play well. It's about learning the system and playing hard.
Q – Is this system better suited for your style of play?
A – Good running backs are going to step up in this system. So are the fullbacks.
Q – Noticed on the goal line that you and Reuben Droughns lined up behind the quarterback. Two big guys there.
A – He played fullback before so he knows how to run it hard between the tackles. Whoever they put behind me, they've got to play the way we need to play.
Q – You guys are coming off a 4-12 season. Nothing but up from there.
A – Nothing to lose. Balls to the wall. Basically, I think we'll surprise a lot of teams. Just got to keep understanding and keep learning and keep getting better. We've got to realize there are going to be mistakes out here on the practice field and we've just got to keep going at it and work hard every day.
Q – You're having a solid training camp. Compare this one to the others you've been through.
A – Last year, I felt like I had a good training camp with the Cowboys. I was in competition with Keyshawn (Johnson) to start and hoped that went well. I got my opportunity to make some plays with Dallas before I got traded here. I'm just trying to follow a lot of things I did last year in my preparation for the season. By being a veteran, I know how to go get in the cold tub and lift my weights properly without burning out, and keep my body fresh because it's a long season. So I'm just doing the same things I did last year.
Q – Any feedback from the coaches?
A – You get positive feedback, but I listen to the things like that's what they expect out of me. By them standing on me , they're letting me know they expect it out of me because I've got younger guys under me who are following me. It's setting an example for those guys. Be accountable. That's the main thing. Be accountable and be consistent.
Q – You're not that old (he's 24). You're a young veteran.
A – No, I'm not (old). A lot of guys who came out in the draft this year are one year younger than me my age or will turn my age. This is my fourth year. That's a long term.
Q – And it's that experience you're building on?
A – Exactly. I'm just taking advantage of it. Being young and being blessed without the injuries and everything – I've got to thank God for that because I know a lot of guys who came in with me who aren't playing due to injuries or other things.
Q – You and Trent Dilfer seem to be on the same page. What's with that?
A – When Trent first came over here (from Seattle), he made me feel real good. He's a home-based guy. He's family first, religion. He's into God and everything. He's a genuine person. He called me when he got in and told me he couldn't wait to work with me. That encouraged me. I had to get off the sofa and start doing something. My whole thing is let him know all I can do is work hard for him and I feel like now we're here on the field, I can't talk about it. All I can do is show him that hey, I'm going to be here. If you've got to go in that dark alley, come pick me up because I'm scrap. There you go.
Q – You missed a couple of practices because of an injury. How's your health?
A – I'm good, I'm 100% good. Nothing is slowing me down now.
Q – In goal-line situations the other day, you guys went 0-for-4 against the offense. Today, you stopped them four straight times. That's got to give the defense a boost.
A – Sometimes, it happens like that. You play this game long enough, you're going to win some, you're going to lose some. But you've just got to be consistent and hope you stay on top more.
Q – What do you want to accomplish by the time Sept. 11 (season opener here against Cincinnati) rolls around?
A – Just make sure everyone's on the same page and have the chemistry and know the defense and have accountability.
Q – The fact that you're familiar with the 3-4, are you able to help your fellow players in the secondary?
A – Basically, it really doesn't affect us at all . . . 3-4, 4-3, it doesn't matter. We've just to go out and execute our secondary calls and make sure everything is OK.
Q – Having a good group of receivers is a good test for you.
A – They make plays, I make plays. The harder they work me, the better it'll be in the game.
Q – What happened on that blocked field-goal attempt in practice?
A – It was a field-goal block emphasis. I'll throw that caveat in there. It was a field-goal block practice. They were focusing on that.
Q – Have the Browns told you what they're expecting from you this season?
A – They haven't. For me right now, it's get as much practice in as you can. Learn as much from Phil (Dawson) as possible. He's been around a long time. See where it takes you.
Q – What have you learned so far?
A – You learn a lot of things through observation. What kind of work ethic, how much is too much. Especially kicking; you've got to balance that. What kinds of drills they do. You can find some good drills and a few good things to work on.
Q – How would you describe yourself as a kicker and what you can bring to the Browns?
A – I feel like I've got a good leg and I'm a consistent field-goal kicker.
Q – Are you more of drive-type kicker or a directional kicker?
A – We specifically in college (at Boise State) were a directional team. For pretty much for four years, I was a right or a left. That's definitely something I can do.
Q – You played the 3-4 in Atlanta. Any difference in the way they're running it here?
A – Very, very similar. The only thing as far as positions go, the outside backers stay left and right. In Atlanta, we did strong (side) and weak (side) which makes both outside backers have to learn both sides.
Q – Is that a matter of nomenclature more than anything?
A – There are a lot of nomenclature differences. Once you learn concept of coverages and zone pressures and blitzes, the concept of things, you can get around what things are called.
Q – Are you still trying to feel your way into the new process?
A – No, we've really had a lot of time as far as passing camp goes and this camp to get acquainted with the basics or major calls we're going to be in. I think the guys are starting to feel a little more comfortable.
Q – You and Kenard Lang are fighting for the starting job (at left outside linebacker). Can one of you wind up on the right side?
A – You'd really have to ask the coaches. I'm just competing and trying to make good with the reps I'm getting. As far as outside backers go, left and right are interchangeable.
Q – What part of your game do you believe gives you the edge over your closest pursuer for the starting job?
A – As far as my strengths go, my experience in that spot has helped me out. I don't like to talk about myself. So that's about as much as you're going to get out of me.