Off-Season Program Start; Expectations High

The Browns kicked off their off-season conditioning program in Berea today, with athletes like DB Gary Baxter eager to start preparing for the 2006 season. The OBR's Fred Greetham was there, and lets us know what was on the minds of Baxter, LB Andra Davis, FB Terrelle Smith, and RB Reuben Droughns...

BEREA – Monday was the first day of the Browns' off-season conditioning program and at least four of the players are ready to get the 2006 campaign underway.

Cornerback Gary Baxter minced no words on his excitement when talking about the moves the Browns have made this off-season.

"Those (moves) are the ingredients for a winning recipe to put the pieces in place to be competitive," he said. "The system is in place and the guys know what to do. The additions will come in from winning teams and will help us with a winning attitude."

Baxter says he's totally recovered from his torn pectoral muscle. Baxter also dispelled any rumors that he might move to safety.

"That is not an option," he said emphatically.

Baxter is excited about the prospects of having a pass rush.

"If we have a pass rush, it makes my job a whole lot easier and a whole lot more fun because the pressure is on the quarterback," Baxter said. "It's 90 percent excitement because I'm coming back from the injury and 10 percent because of the moves we made and the system is in place.

"I'm very excited with having a guy like (Willie) McGinest here," Baxter said. "I would say the expectations are very high right now. It's hard for people to understand how much it takes for a new coach and a new system to have the lights turn on. Last year, everybody was wide-eyed. This year, the chemistry is there and everybody wants to be here.

Andra Davis agreed.

"Expectations are way up," he said. "The Browns went out and spent a lot of money. We're expected to do well. It looks good on paper but we have to turn it into W's on the field.

"To see the guys we've added and with the coaching staff in place will really help us," Davis added. "We know we can't win it without playing, but we're doing everything we can to build that chemistry and develop it. We think we can compete for the playoffs."

Davis especially likes the additions of McGinest and Ted Washington.

"That's huge to have Ted," Davis said. "When we made that signing, I was jumping around like a little kid. (Washington) told me he's going to demand a double team and that's going to help me out a lot."

Davis sees the leadership of the veterans already coming out. McGinest is taking all of the linebackers out to dinner Wednesday night to get to know one another.

"There are guys who show their leadership in different ways," Davis said. "I know they are going to say something when they need to, but they will give it their all."

Davis agreed with Baxter that the second year in the Romeo Crenell's system will really help.

"It's going to make a huge difference," Davis said. "Being the second year will help because last year they threw a lot at us. When I was going back over it and by adding guys who already know the system like McGinest and Washington will make a big difference."

There is optimism on the offensive side of the ball, as well.

Reuben Droughns and Terrelle Smith really like the additions on the offensive line.

"You'll see LeCharles Bentley make a big stamp on this team," Smith, who was a teammate's of Bentley's at New Orleans, said.

Smith thinks Bentley could be an awesome guard for the Browns.

"If you've seen the film against Tampa Bay, the type of puller he is he pulls to go hunt," Smith said. "He has a defensive linemen's mentality. I know he's going to crack somebody and I can crack somebody and Reuben can be back there running."

Smith said he got together in Cleveland with Bentley before the Pro Bowl and urged him to come to the Browns.

"Kevin Shaffer will help us out at left tackle," Droughns said. "I know the coaching he's had and he will fit in well with us."

Droughns thinks the second year in Maurice Carthon's offense will help immensely.

"Last year, we weren't as comfortable with the offense and that will help us, in general," Droughns said. "That comes with experience. Last year, there were times when we were shaky because we didn't know each of the other guys as well."

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