Savage Still Working on Improving Defense

The Browns introduced Dave Zastudil and Ted Washington to the press corps today, while Browns personnel guru Phil Savage talked about the status of DE/OLB Kalimba Edwards...

Berea - After focusing their energy on the offense on the first day of free agent signing, the Browns turned to the other two areas of the team—defense and special teams.

With Ted Washington and Dave Zastudil in the fold, general manager Phil Savage is still trying to sign another impact player on the defensive front in Kalimba Edwards.

"I'd say it's 50/50 right now," Savage said. "We haven't put a deadline on getting a deal done.

"We think he would be a nice fit, but he has to want to be here."

Savage thinks Edwards could play the outside linebacker position in the Browns scheme.

Washington is expected to more than fill the shoes of Jason Fisk at nose tackle. The massive 6-5, 365-pound behemoth has played 15 seasons in the NFL. He is re-connected with Romeo Crennel as the pair teamed up in 2003 with the Patriots to win Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Washington, who will turn 38 on April 13, has been to four Pro Bowls (1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001).

"I'd like to make one more trip to the Pro Bowl."

Washington said he mentioned to Crennel he would be interested in playing for him again before.

"We talked about it last year when (Crennel) got the coaching job with the Browns," Washington said. "I told him to keep me in mind.

"My decision was based on coach and what we went through with New England," Washington said. "Being a defensive line coach, I know what it takes to run a defensive front and I just want to be part of this defense."

Washington said he has been doing some defensive line coaching in NFL Europe.

Savage said the addition of Washington is a big step in fixing the run defense.

"We've talked about this area since last year and we talked about trying to fix the problem," Savage said. "He's here because of his relationship with Romeo—there's no question about that."

Washington doesn't feel his age has caused him to drop his level of play.

"Age is just a number," he said. "Yeah, I'm up there in age, but I still play at a high level. Look at the films. I feel I have a lot to add. I've been on championship teams and I've been on losing teams.

"You're going to have some wear and tear in any sport," he said. "I've been blessed to play. My goal was 15 years and I've crossed that and I think I can play three or four more years."

Washington told his agent he wanted to come to the Browns.

"I had a good feeling about Cleveland and where they were heading," he said. "I told my agent to try and get it done with Cleveland before we went somewhere else."

Washington said he can still make plays.

"My goal is not to just sit there and plug up the middle," he said. "I think I can make plays. I think I'm still playing at a high level."

Washington has 982 career tackles, including 697 solo with 34.5 sacks in his career which has transcended to seven different teams. Previously, he's played with the 49ers, Broncos, Bills, Bears, Patriots and the Raiders.

Zastudil, 27,averaged 43.5 yards per punt last season with the Ravens on 84 punts. In his four year career, Zastudil has averaged 41.6 yards a kick with 89 kicks inside the 20.

"I grew up a Cleveland Browns fan and it is really exciting for me to be able to play for the team I grew up watching and rooting for," Zastudil said. "I can't wait to get to work and be able to do my part to help the team succeed.

"I'm so excited to be here and be with my family," he said. "To be a part of this is a dream come true."

Zastudil thinks the additions of native northeast Ohioans like LeCharles Bentley, Joe Jurevicius and Zastudil will help restore the pride in the Browns.

"This will bring pride back to this team because of the additions of LeCharles Bentley, Joe Jurevicius. It will bring a lot of pride back.

"The guys will look to Joe and LeCharles more than me to help restore the pride," he said. "I'm just a punter and I know my role is to create field position."

"I think the local flavor can help add some excitement, but if we don't go out there and win it doesn't matter," Savage said.

Zastudil said his best years are still in front of him.

"I definitely felt I improved a lot last year," he said. "I did a lot of learning and look to improve on what I did and feel my best years are yet to come.

"I think my strengths are that I'm consistent and will continue to get stronger and better."

Savage said it was a priority to get a good punter.

"It's been important for us to stop the revolving door and I feel like we've done that at punter," Savage said.

Zastudil was the Ravens' fourth-round draft choice in the 2002 NFL Draft.

"We feel like where he's at in his career he'll only get better," Savage said. "We think he has a bright future ahead of him."


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