Tales from the In-Box: OTA Edition

Will the defense be more "aggressive"? Why is there so little info coming out of OTAs? Lane answers these questions and more in the latest edition of "Tales from the In-box"...

Q: I have read where the Cleveland defense is going to be more aggressive, then I read another report where the Browns defense will be more laid-back. Which should we expect to see coming from new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and this Cleveland defense?

LA: Here is the issue: saying a defensive scheme will be "aggressive" can mean a number of different things. This Cleveland defense is going to be more aggressive, but the change is expected to occur because of the newly-arrived talent on the defensive line allowing the linebackers to play to their strengths. We should see a much improved push at the point of attack, which will free the linebackers to flow to the play and shoot gaps. The play of the linebackers should be considerably better. I would not say the defensive backs are not going to be a factor, as this team will blitz, but the all-out necessity of using defensive backs to create pressure should be lessened due to the upgraded line.

Q: There hasn't been much news from the mini-camps thus far. Is the team clamping down on information, or is there just nothing to report?

LA: The OTA's let the team get back into the swing of things. Attendance is voluntary, but the organization does expect players to participate - and players will put pressure on each other to attend as well. Since OTA's are limited to non-contact drills, it's tough to get a true read on players or what the team is trying to accomplish. The mental aspect of the game is featured, whether it be receivers running crisp routes, quarterbacks making proper reads and quality throws or just having players working learning changes to the system.

In June, the team will conduct a mandatory mini-camp which all players are required to attend. By the time this camp rolls around, the team should be much further along. We'll be able to better evaluate players at that point, and will have better knowledge of injuries and other issues within players on the roster.

The Browns only allow the media to watch practice and talk to players one day a week during OTAs, usually Wednesday.

Q: We have not heard much about the progress of some of the rookies, why has this been slow in developing or are there other issues which permit us from hearing more about these young players?

LA: As mentioned above, there's only limited media access to OTAs. Beyond this, there are league rules which kept rookies from being at the OTA's until last week. Starting this week, drafted and undrafted players will be at the OTA's.

Q: Newly acquired Shaun Rogers was not on the field with the starting defense, according to reports. Why was that?

LA: Correct, Rogers did not line up with the starting unit. Robaire Smith and Corey Williams were at the ends while Shaun Smith was at the nose. I would read nothing into the lineup at this time, as Rogers noted when discussing the issue of playing in a new defensive system and the 'team' type environment in Cleveland. Also, the organization does think highly of Shaun Smith and Robaire Smith and are not going to pull them out of their respective roles if/until Rogers earns the spot.

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