Throughout the Browns' training camp in Berea, Bernie's Insiders focused on players' thoughts as they get ready for the 2005 National Football League season. The final day of camp, we caught up with safety Chris Crocker, converted linebacker Kenard Lang, injured rookie safety Brodney Pool, running back Reuben Droughns and linebacker Andra Davis.
Q – Did it come as a surprise when you were told to work with the first-team defense today?
A – Not really. Every day is different. So you kind of take it one day at a time.
Q – So the significance of it won't be known until game time Friday night (in the exhibition against Carolina).
A – No. But you know when you come to practice, you have to make the most of your opportunities. You get in there, you want to make sure you're doing the right thing and not make any mistakes.
Q – This is your third training camp. How would you compare it to the first two in terms of your progress and what you're able to give this team?
A – I feel like this is my best camp since I've been here. I really feel I've come along as a player. I think I'm capable of doing everything they ask me to do. I'm getting better every day. Just like all of my teammates, we're just trying to get better as a team and win ballgames.
Q – Are you feeling more comfortable with the 3-4 defense?
A – Oh yeah. In the secondary, coverages are always going to be the same. It's just a different look because you have four linebackers. It's no different. You have to cover the same wide receivers. There's different terminology, but all the coverages stay the same.
Q – Is the switch to the new position coming easier to you or are you still struggling a little bit?
A – Oh no, it's coming to me easy now. Every day is a learning day, an adjustment. I'm enjoying it. Everything's coming along fine. I'm getting better every day. The coaches tell me I'm getting better, so that's all that matters.
Q – From an instinctive standpoint, do you find yourself thinking less and just doing what you need to do?
A – Right now, I'm at this stage where I'm not even thinking any more. I'm just going to do what I have to do..
Q – Is there anything that you haven't quite mastered that you need to work on?
A – The only thing I find difficult is rerouting wide receivers. That's it. Every corner has that problem anyway, so I guess that's not my biggest concern. That's the biggest thing I've got to get down pat and try to be perfect at.
Q – Are you enjoying yourself?
A – Actually, I really am enjoying it. It's like starting all over again. It's almost like a rookie. I got to learn a whole new position, I've got to learn new plays, new schemes. That's the main objective. Actually, it kind of gave me like a reboost of starting all over again. I'm not bored playing defensive end. It's like "I know what he's going to do; I know what he's going to do". At linebacker, I don't know what he's going to do. It's been fun. It's been a thrill.
Q – Are you in a position to get in some plays this week or are they going to hold you back one more week?
A – That's up to the coaches. Whatever happens happens. Right now, I'm not sure.
Q – What does the medical staff say? Any word from them?
A – Not really. I really haven't heard anything.
Q – How anxious are you (to get back to playing)?
A – I'm anxious, but I'm not going to rush anything. Whatever the coaches say I'm going to do. I'm going to take my time.
Q – What are you doing to stay current with the situation?
A – Watching everybody and taking mental reps so I won't fall too far behind.
Q – Is this the first time you've been injured and out for this period of time?
A – I was injured in high school once. I injured my knee and didn't play for two games. I wasn't injured in college
Q – How difficult is it to watch practice when you can't participate?
A – It's kind of difficult watching people in front of you doing well. But everything happens for a reason. Right now, I'm just going to take my mental reps and going to go with it.
Q – It's been more than 20 years since the Browns have had a 1,000-yard rusher? Are you that man?
A – I hope one of us is that man. I think all of us are capable of getting 1,000 yards behind the line we have this year. If we really stick with it and run the ball, we're going to get it.
Q – How much fun has it been knowing you've got that big No. 42 (Terrelle Smith) in front of you?
A – Better than having the little 34 (himself) in front of you (laughing). I'm really excited about that. I've always seen Terrelle Smith in college blocking for J.R. Redmond. I've always wanted a big guy like that in front of me and now, I've got it. So hopefully, we can run with it.
Q – How much fun was it (last Saturday in the Detroit exhibition) to be able to get your feet wet?
Q – In what way has the Browns' tradition and fans made an impression on you?
A – These fans are great. There's nothing better than these fans. It seems like I'm back in the college atmosphere again, back up in Oregon with those fans. These fans live the game of football and you can tell they really breathe this stuff out here. It feels good to be around this atmosphere.
Q – How has Romeo Crennel been able to get this team on the same page?
A – Accountability from the get go, ever since we started working out together way back in March. (Strength) coach John Lott and Romeo and everybody made us accountable to each other. That was a huge thing right there. I think that was the most important thing.
Q – How has the accountability factor translated into what you do on the field?
A – You know you can trust the guy next to you. If he's not going to miss any workouts in the offseason, you know he's going to be right there. He's going to study his plays, study his work during the week. He's going to be ready. That's huge.
Q – Is accountability something that was missing here last year?
A – I think it was here, but I don't think it was among everybody. I don't think everybody was accountable.
Q – Carolina (Friday's opponent) likes to pound the ball. A pretty good test?
A – It's going to be a huge test. It's going to be the biggest test we've had thus far. We've had a good week of practice. We're steadily building up last week's performance. We'll be ready.
Q – Does this camp seem like it dragged or flew by?
A – It flew by because we had so much to learn. Last year, everybody knew the defense, everybody knew what to do. This year, we put in something new every day. You had to always be on your toes. Even to this day, we had a lot of stuff going in. We never were able to relax.
Q – How good can you and Orlando Ruff be as a tandem?
A – I don't know. I just worry about whoever I'm out there with. It doesn't matter who it is. It's whatever the coach decides and whatever will make us that much better.