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. Today, we talk with tight end Aaron Shea, linebacker Renauld Williams, Corey Jackson and rookie cornerback Antonio Perkins.
Q – This is you're sixth season. It seems as though everything is changing on a yearly basis with you (new coach, new system, new attitude). Is this tough on the mind or are you a guy who adjusts easily to things?
A – Sometimes, things are easier to adjust to than others. I love this offense. It's the third offense I've been in here, but I like this one the best. It's kind of a little like what I did in my rookie year here where they move you around. Mo (offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon) likes to throw the ball to the tight end. We've got to go show we can go out and catch that ball for him.
Q – Very tight end friendly.
A – You've got to love that playing tight end. So hopefully, we can get out there, catch some balls, build some confidence between us and the quarterbacks and we'll get going. It's a start.
Q – Are there going to be a lot of two tight end passing formations as well?
A – Yeah. You can get honed in that every time they're in two tights, they're running the ball or every time they're in two tights, they're passing the ball. You've got to be a balanced offense. You can do a lot of every formation you run so defenses can't really key up on what we're doing.
Q – How does the tenor of this camp differ from the previous two coaches?
A – This is the smartest camp I've gone through. We're still hitting. We're still in full pads. This is, by no means, an easy camp. This is not an easy camp. This is a tough camp, but it's a smart tough camp. We're going 2-1-2-1 (alternating twice-a-day workouts and once-a-day workouts) where you're giving your body ample time to recover so you don't get that super bad soreness where you pull a hamstring or stuff like that.
Q – In that regard, this is one of the moost relatively laid-back camps I've seen here.
A – Think so?
Q – Yeah. I know there's hitting. In terms of that grinding all the time . . . you guys split up into your positional drills more often than I'm used to seeing. Is that something new for you?
A – I'm going to disagree a little bit. I think last year, we never went pads back-to-back. And whether we're in helmets and shoulders pads or shoulder pads and pants, that's the same thing. Last year, we'd maybe go helmets and shoulders pads, helmets and those spider things. This year, I think it's showing how we're running the ball. In the past, we've struggled to run the ball. This year, it's a mind-set where we're going to run the ball. Mo, being an old fullback, he wants to run that ball so you've just got to go out there and be physical.
Q – Does (the blocking part) make it easier or more difficult for you?
A – Of course, you want to go out there and catch balls. But blocking is a part of this game. If you want to play and you want to be a starter in this league, you've got to be able to do both. (Tight ends coach) Ben Coates has been working with us. This guy was an All-Pro tight end. Steve (Heiden) and I are trying to get some of his knowledge. He's been to Super Bowls and stuff like that. He's been really good for us as far as the little things.
Q – One last question. How many catches between you and Steve for the season? More than 100?
A – That would be nice, wouldn't it? I hate to get into predictions and all that stuff. You never know what's going to happen. But I feel we're capable. I hope. I hope. Let's talk at the end of the year.
Q – You don't have the prototypical size for a linebacker (he's listed at 6-0, 238 pounds). How much of a detriment or benefit is that to you?
A – Being small, it's good and bad, especially in the 3-4 defense where you've got to take on these guards most of the time. With a little linebacker, it's kind of hard to see over the guards, take them on and get off the block. But I use my speed to my advantage.
Q – You play inside linebacker. What attributes do you have that can help improve your chances of making this club at that position?
A – I think the Browns really brought me in to be a linebacker in the sub packages, the nickel and dime packages. They want a fast linebacker who can cover, as well as play the run. If I do that well, as well as special teams, I think I have a good chance of making the club.
Q – Did you play linebacker in college (at Hofstra)?
A – I was an outside blitzing linebacker.
Q – So you're really not used to the 3-4 scheme here.
A – I have to adjust playing behind the line of scrimmage. I was usually up on the line of scrimmage and blitzing all the time. So I have to get adapted to that.
Q – How are you finding playing the 3-4 for the first time?
A – Todd (defensive coordinator Todd Grantham) and Mike (linebackers coach Mike Haluchak) do a great job of coaching us and breaking everything down. It also helps when you get reps in practice. During the offseason, we did a lot of practicing, so I pretty much knew the defense coming into training camp. Mike's done a great job of having us adjust, teaching, film work and getting more adjusted to playing linebacker.
Q – Are you playing any special teams?
A – I'm on all of them. I'm a special teams guy.
Q – Is that the quickest way to make this roster?
A – Being a free agent in this league, in order for you to make the squad,
you've got to be able to play special teams. Special teams is a way you can get
on the field. From there, through injury or just hard work, you can get on the
field and play defense.
Q – How much has your experience in NFL Europe helped you in this camp?
A – It helps a lot in some ways. But we're doing a different style defense now, so it's a little different than what I'm used to.
Q – In what way? How does the 3-4 change your approach?
A – I've just got to try and change my technique a little bit, a little different style of play. In the 4-3, you can get off the ball a little more and try to disrupt things and make some plays. The 3-4, you've got to hold up blocks and you've got a lot of linebackers who are going to come through and clean up and make the plays.
Q – How hard has that adjustment been for you?
A – It's been difficult, but that's football. You've got to learn to adjust and keep on going.
Q – How has it been going ? Are you feeling more comfortable with it?
A – So far I think I've been doing OK. I'm just working every day and trying to improve on it.
Q – Do you sometimes lapse into your old 4-3 habits or is the 3-4 pretty much ingrained in your head?
A – It takes a while to kind of get it ingrained in your head, so you've got to keep constantly thinking about it and remind yourself this is different.
Q – What's the one thing you're working on in particular to make yourself that much better?
A – I'm working on all areas. I have to . . . because I have to be versatile and I have to be able to do different things. Play the run, play in passing situations. I've got to work on all areas to make sure I'm versatile enough to be of use to the team.
Q – Starting to become instinctive?
A – A little bit. We'll see on Friday night (in the exhibition against
Carolina) just how much more progress we've made.
Q – You came out of Oklahoma with the reputation of being a very good return specialist and here, they've got you working pretty much as a cornerback. Surprised?
A – No. I'm just trying to learn the defense first before I get into the return game. Hopefully, I can help out wherever they need it.
Q – How does this new (3-4) defense affect you as a cornerback or is it pretty much the same as playing behind a 4-3?
A – Everything is new to me right now at this level – the game speed, the film study. I'm just trying to work hard and get better every day.
Q – What's the hardest part of what you're trying to do now?
A – Trying to adapt to this environment, trying to learn the system and learning how to play hard like the other veterans do.
Q – You've played a couple of exhibition games and you've had the benefit of three weeks of camp. Has it reached the point where you believe you belong here?
A – I feel that way, but I've still got to prove to myself and prove to everyone else I belong here and hopefully, I can make it.
Q – And what do you need to do accomplish that?
A – Continue to work hard on the field and learn the defense.
Q – Is it a complicated defense?
A – Not really. But there are a lot of different things I've got to learn how to do. A lot of stuff I've got to pick up and try to work hard on that. The terminology mainly. The little things. The little techniques.