With OTAs around the corner and largely hidden from view, here are some thoughts that have popped into my head and words that have reached my ears...
IMPROVEMENT DEPENDS ON THEM: The additions of defensive
linemen Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers certainly add talent, experience and
depth to a critrical area of need. While both players will play a significant
role in improving a questionable Cleveland defense, it will be the space and
opposition they occupy which will be the deciding factor of improvement in
Cleveland. For the first time in recent memory, the Cleveland defense expects
the linebackers flow to the football, make plays and create havoc in the
With Williams and Rogers at the ends, the expectation is the linemen will create push up-field, and the energetic Shaun Smith can utilize his quickness at nose tackle. The speed and quickness of Kamerion Wimbley and Antwan Peek should be realized, while inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson should be given the space to play without a body on him, utilizing his athleticism.
ONE RUMOR DISMISSED: Rumored reports of weight issues surrounding Rogers are unfounded, at least relative to what's gone on since he joined the Browns. The team has absolutely no concerns about the veteran lineman, mentally or physically, and have been happy with what they've seen since he has arrived in Cleveland. Furthermore, the Browns were aggressive in the pursuit of the veteran this past off-season. The organization talked to many in the game, viewed all the game-tape and talked with team leaders about the player. Simply, the organization is not concerned at all.
HOLLY JOLLY SUMMER: Regarding cornerback Daven Holly and his contract status: The contract is a non-issue, the player will be in camp and is part of the plan in the defensive backfield. If anything, the organization would like to get him under a multi-year deal at some point. Holly may be thinking of free agent riches ahead if he can have a good year, however.
BIG WILLIE STYLE: Heading into the off-season, the health and status of veteran linebacker Willie McGinest was in question by some reporting on the team. Well, the OTA's are around the corner and McGinest is very much a part of the team and expect nothing less in the 2008 season, which will be the final bow for the team leader. L
If McGinest is not playing in the 2008 season it will be on his own accord or
an injury issue, he won't get cut. McGinest simply leads this team, not only the
defense, and not only on the field, but in the locker-room. McGinest is and has
been the ultimate teammate and professional. His presence is needed with the
youth and inexperience on the Cleveland roster, and helps with a lot of the
veterans as well.
Don't forget that McGinest is healthy, unlike the 2007 season.
PEEK PERFORMANCE: Remember outside linebacker Antwan Peek. If you do not, then take note: Peek is fully recovered from a torn meniscus suffered early in the 2007 season. Peek, signed to add a presence opposite Kamerion Wimbley last season played with the torn meniscus over the last 15-games of the season. Fully healthy and about 13-pounds lighter, Peek should return to the form and will make an impact within the Cleveland 3-4 defensive scheme.
The veteran wants to make an impression on his teammates and coaches, but
most importantly, he's looking to make an impression on the opposing quarterback
(and perhaps a few on the turf).