What We've Been Told: Defense

Lane Adkins has the inside word on a high-profile defender who has to show his ability (and fast) during training camp, as well as more on the team's approach on the defensive backfield. Get behind the scenes before camp starts!

- Expect the Browns coaching staff to be hands-on with the defensive line during training camp. Coleman and Shaun Rogers are nearly a given as starters, but the other starting defensive line spot is up for grabs. The return of a healthy Robaire Smith provides great depth and experience, while Corey Williams must display the ability to stay healthy and productive in the 3-4 base scheme. The remaining starting role is expected to come down to Smith, Williams, and free agent acquisition C.J. Mosely, another former N.Y. Jets player from the Mangini era in New York. Of the three, Williams remains the most intriguing. As a 4-3 lineman, Williams excelled while a member of the Green Bay Packers. Upon his arrival in Cleveland, Williams was injured while transitioning to the 3-4, meaning that the new coaching staff does not have a true evaluation of the Williams as a 3-4 lineman. There has been discussion of Williams playing inside next to Rogers on occasion, part of what appears to be an evolving scheme which will 'show' numerous looks to disguise and confuse the opposing offense. The Browns coaching staff will evaluates and seek a role for Williams, but keep in mind that his time in Cleveland could be cut short if the player cannot excel in this base defense. Williams was signed to a high-dollar contract by Phil Savage in 2008, and needs to prove himself to the current coaching staff.

- A few of the players acquired by the Browns during the off-season have been the subject of media punch lines. The consistent jibes at some of the team's free agent signings aren't resented by the coaching staff, although they feel that the comments are basically unwarranted. The perception inside Berea is that nobody - especially the media - has any clue as to how important experience with Mangini's system will be to building a solid and immediate base for this team to play at a competitive level. According to those in and around the team, the addition of LB's Eric Barton, David Bowens and DE Kenyon Coleman are paying off immediately, as the players around them are quickly getting up to speed on the defense's basics as well as Mangini's expectations for players. As two players noted to theOBR, "those guys know the defense, know what's expected and go out of their way to help with the terminology. Even in a competitive setting, they are helping, which says something about this being a true 'team' philosophy."

- Heading into training camp, Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald are penciled in as the starting corners. The off-season additions of veterans Rod Hood and Corey Ivy provide depth at the position, an area of concern during th off-season. If Wright or McDonald were to falter, Hood would be in position to step-into a starting role, but at this time Hood is viewed as a solid nickel/slot cover corner.

- The coaching staff has not discounted the potential of rookie defensive backs Don Carey and Coye Francies to play a role in the 2009 season. Carey has displayed the physical ability and mental preparation to fill a role at safety or corner, while Francies has caught the eye of the staff with his ability to be in position and his awareness. It's far too early to project either rookie as a serious candidate to receive significant and meaningful reps -- but the potential is there, as well as the ability to serve on special teams early for the team.

- In film study, the play of the Browns safeties a season ago was adequate at best. Former Browns strong safety Sean Jones' level of play a season ago was sub-par, which helps to explain the team's lack of effort in chasing him as a free agent. Jones struggled frequently, as he was often out of position or a step late in recognition, although some of his issues may have been directly related to Jones' recovery from a knee injury. His replacement, Abe Elam, has made an immediate impact in tandem with holdover starting free safety Brodney Pool. Early indications coming from the staff and those within the roster are that Elam may not be as physically gifted as the departed Jones, but that his awareness, mental preparation and technique dwarf what Jones displayed in 2008. Pool is said to have grasped and welcomed the changes in scheme and responsibility under the new defense of coordinator Rob Ryan.

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