BEREA - The Browns made a concerted effort this off-season to bulk up their defensive line to help improve their rushing defense. They have been near the bottom of the NFL the last several years in stopping the run and went out and signed Robaire Smith and Shaun Smith in free agency.
Shaun Smith is expected to pair up with Ted Washington in the middle and Robaire is counted upon to hold down one end slot.
The big question is whether Orpheus Roye can rebound to the form he displayed in 2005, when he had a career best 88 tackles, including three sacks.
Many felt Roye played at a Pro Bowl level in 2005. However, he was slowed in 2006 with a sprained ACL when he rolled it against the Bengals' Willie Anderson. He played in just nine games.
Roye thinks that now that his knee is sound, he will bounce back.
"I feel pretty good," Roye said. "I've had a good off-season and we still have a couple of months until the season begins."
Romeo Crennel was asked after practice Wednesday if he thought Roye could get back to where he was in 2005.
"Sure he can," Crennel said. "Orpheus is a football player. He's a competitor."
Crennel had to choose his words carefully when talking about the 34-year old from Florida State.
"We'll see if the Orpheus of old is back—not old Orpheus, but the Orpheus of old," Crennel said with a smile.
Roye was listed last season at 6-4, 315 pounds. He said he's currently at 330, but expects to get back down by training camp.
"He feels if he's lighter, he will have more stamina," Crennel said.
Roye is entering his 12th NFL season. He has been with the Browns since signing as a free agent in 2000. He played with the Steelers prior to joining the Browns.
In 2006, Roye had just 32 tackles, including just one sack in nine games.
Roye thinks the Browns can have a good defense as the system is now in its third under Todd Grantham.
"The guys are more comfortable with the experience and the familiarity of the defense," he said. "I think with the new guys we have we can play well. Definitely, the key will be for us to stay healthy."
Roye admits it's time for the Browns defense to have a big year.
"We need to have a breakthrough season but we won't know until we get to training camp."