Top Dawg! Hanford Dixon Joins the OBR

All-time great defensive back Hanford Dixon is a frequent visitor to the Browns training facility in Berea and has joined the OBR to offer his thoughts this season. In his first column, "Top Dawg" discusses the Browns outlook and his thoughts about how camp has changed...

Hey, dawgs, how's it going? Surprised to see me? Don't be. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time and Barry McBride has given me the chance to reconnect with you guys. Great to be aboard.

It'll be my privilege to share my Browns thoughts with you throughout this season, which I think is going to be special, by the way. I'm really looking forward to getting on the same wavelength with the great sports fans of Cleveland and beyond as the Browns launch yet another season.

It got started a week ago Friday with the beginning of training camp in Berea and right off the bat, I couldn't believe how easy the guys today have it. First day and they were dressed in shorts and no pads. What's with that?

Training camp today is a piece of cake compared to when I played. When we came out, we just hit and hit. It was something we all dreaded.

It was so funny because I got on the phone when I saw that and called Ozzie (Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome) and said, "Wiz, man, they didn't really do anything." And he said, "Hanford, let me tell you, today is just a different ball game. The veteran players got it made today. They can play a lot longer because the contact and all is not there like it used to be."

I told Ozzie we need to bring back a Marty Schottenheimer type of camp because Marty ran some hard, hard camps. It gets you ready for that game-time situation. Even in practice, a majority of what we had was game-time stuff like the full-speed tackling. Not to hurt anybody. We'd let up on the quarterbacks and we wouldn't take any cheap shots on anybody. But you have to go at that tackling and stuff full speed in order to get better at it.

Today, it's not just Romeo Crennel running this type of camp. All around the league, things have changed from the way it used to be. Everybody's got their own little system of how they do it. All the camps are just easier. You've just to figure out another way in order to get yourself ready for the season and obviously, this way will get you ready, too. I sure wish I had played under a coach who had such light practices. Absolutely.

However, I'm very excited about this football team this year. I think we've got a chance to do something special. We've got some guys like Braylon Edwards, who's going into his third year. This should be a make or break year for him. Kellen Winslow . . . we just need to keep him healthy.

Defensively, I think we're going to be strong. I like the kid Eric Wright. I think he's a competitor. He's really got a chance to start. And just to see Gary Baxter walk on the field is a plus. If we can get him back, that would be great. With all the multiple-receiver sets a lot of teams play today, you cannot have enough good cornerbacks. Then we have Daven Holly, who came out last year and had five or six interceptions.

It's going to be interesting this year. The key thing is the quarterback position and I'll tell you this right now: Everybody's talking about Brady Quinn and Charlie Frye, but I think the guy who is going to emerge as our starter is Derek Anderson because he's got an attitude. You can tell it right now because nobody's talking about him. It seems like everyone has given up on him. He's got the pocket presence, a strong, strong arm and he can zip it. He's a smart kid and I think he's going to be our starter.

Now I don't want you to think everything is rosy. Some things scare me about this team. Under Romeo, they've gone 10-22. They just haven't learned how to win. They don't expect to win. I had an old saying I used to say to our team all the time. Expect to win, expect to win and if you expect to win, you'll usually find a way to win. What scares me is they don't expect to win. Hopefully, they'll learn that and do that.

And it's not just the coach who has to instill that in the players. The veterans have to come in and have everyone drinking the Kool-Aid. You've got a lot of young players on this team. The veterans have to come in and get them to believe and drink that Kool-Aid. Do that and we could have something special here.

I think this is going to be a breakout year for us. I really do. I believe this team is going to do something special. I think they're going to capture the city and hopefully bring us back to our glory days. It's time.

I'm excited about this team and this season and just to hear those dawgs barking again in the pound.

See ya next week.


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