Berea Report: Young CBs Coming Of Age

Fred Greetham talks to the newly-minted defensive player of the week, plus gets the lowdown on the new DC's role and the very latest on the injury situation in Berea.

Berea -- One of the big questions heading into the season on the defensive side of the ball was whether the young defensive backs -- particularly Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald -- were ready to handle their duties.

Wright was just named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his play against the Giants. Wright not only had the 94-yard interception return for a touchdown that sealed the Browns win, he also had three tackles and two passes broken up.

McDonald also had a big interception in the win. He also has four passes broken up to go with 21 tackles.

The Browns have had eight interceptions in the last three games, including six in the past two.

"I think some of the teams think we have young guys back there and they can take advantage of them," Romeo Crennel said.

Wright says other teams might try to pick on he and McDonald, but that's fine with him.

"We have the talent and confidence and have always believed in ourselves," he said. "Now that we're making plays, we're getting noticed."

Crennel knows how important the turnover battle is.

"Turnovers really impact the game because the ball is the most important thing on the field," Crennel said. "I don't think anyone can predict how many turnovers you are going to get, but if your team can get a knack for getting turnovers that will impact the team and give the (offense) better field position."

Wright particularly was burned in the preseason loss to the Giants and that might be why the Giants tried to go after him.

"He wasn't the only one in that preseason game (who was beaten)," Crennel said. "You learn from your mistakes and how to get better."

Crennel thinks that Wright is still learning.

"He's playing with better technique," Crennel said. "Sometime you play with a little overconfidence and think you can play without proper leverage. He's been doing that and playing better."

Wright says he and McDonald are up for the challenge each week.

"I don't think we're satisfied," Wright said. "We know ourselves the amount of work we put in. We are young and continue to grow and try to get better.

He said he also relishes the opportunity to make turnovers.

"Obviously, if we can create turnovers we can give our offense opportunities to make plays."

On the season, Wright has 25 tackles with three interceptions to lead the team and he also is tied for the team lead with four passes broken up. Wright is fourth in the NFL with three interceptions.

Wright is the first Browns defensive player to earn the honor since DB Sean Jones did so the week of Nov. 1, 2006.

Speaking of Jones, he is expected to return to action this week.

"It gives us more depth in the sub packages and that will be a plus," Crennel said. "With Sean coming back he will need to get the rust knocked off."


Mel's Role: First-year defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has the Browns ranked as the 17th best in the NFL. Crennel thinks the defense is evolving and getting better all the time.

"I think the players have to get used to the new coordinator and he has to learn them," Crennel said. "As a coordinator he has to learn them all and know them all and that impacts the whole defense.

"He's adjusted well and he has them playing well," Crennel said. "We have to improve our consistency and if we do that we'll have better performances."

Prime Time: Eric Wright said that his high step on his way to the end zone against the Giants was his way of giving tribute to his boyhood idol, Deion Sanders.

"Growing up in San Francisco, I pretty much idolized him," Wright said. "He was my favorite player and growing up you dream of playing on Monday Night Football."

Wright has gotten to know Sanders in the past 1 ½ years and even worked out with him last summer.

"I talk to him on a regular basis," Wright said. "He's been very supportive and I respect him very much. He's very humble and helpful to me."

Crennel said he hopes Wright can achieve Sanders' status some day.

"He was a pretty good player," Crennel said. "Eric's not there yet, but it's obvious he's talked to him because he did his high step on the touchdown."

Rare Feat: The Browns accomplished a feat that has only happened four times in the NFL since records were kept dating back to 1963. Only four teams have not allowed a sack, had a turnover or punted in a game. The last to do it was the Jets in 2004. The other teams were the Buccaneers in 1998 and the 49ers in 1993.

Injury Update: Crennel said that DB Shaun Smith (hand) will not play this week. TE Kellen Winslow (illness) is at home still but Crennel hopes he will play against the Redskins. He is listed as questionable. OL Kevin Shaffer (concussion) will practice and DB Brodney Pool (ankle) is expected to practice. OL Ryan Tucker (knee) will be rested after having a sore knee.

"(Winslow) is making progress and if he keeps doing so, he will be there (on Sunday)," Crennel said. "Tucker will miss practice. He has some wear and tear, but we anticipate he'll play."

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