Breaking Down the Roster

Lane Adkins offers up his takes on a few notable performers in training camp thus far, including more than a handful on the defensive side of the ball.

- LB Alex Hall is making the most of his time with the second-team defense at OLB. Over the past couple days, Hall has regularly met whomever has been under center in the backfield. Hall is likely to remain behind veteran David Bowens on the depth chart, but the coaching staff is aware of his continued development.

- OLB Titus Brown has taken some reps with the first-team defense. In limited opportunities playing behind starter Kamerion Wimbley, Brown has displayed quickness to compete at this level. Lining up behind Wimbley, Brown displays explosive burst off the ball and is active. While Brown has shown the athletic ability to play the game going forward, he needs to continue working on the recognition and responsibility aspects of the OLB position.

- Rookie LB David Veikune is a sledgehammer of a hitter. Veikune is playing inside to capitalize on his strength and awareness, and adding this physical aspect to the Browns defense is a welcome sight. In situational defensive looks, Veikune has also ventured to OLB and possesses the ability to push an offensive lineman back on his heels due to his raw physical strength.

- Veteran WR Braylon Edwards is a new man. In training camp, one which the receiver was a few days late in getting on the practice field due to a preexisting injury (ankle), Edwards is displaying his 2007 form -- if not better. In and out of his routes hard and precise, the WR has caught anything and everything thrown in his general direction. Whether Edwards is embarrassed about the 2008 season or has a chip on his shoulder due to trade talks which did not materialize in the off-season, the Browns appear to have their number-one receiver back at the top of his game.

- The addition of ILB Eric Barton to this defensive unit appears to be more rewarding than many originally thought. Signed as a free agent during the off-season, Barton has immediately emerged as a leader and has teamed with D'Qwell Jackson to give the Browns defense a solid set of inside linebackers for the first time in recent memory. While not a household name, Barton's experience and communication skills have already paid off for this team -- and his leadership qualities have gone unmentioned.

- Free-agent acquisition, John St. Clair has been solid throughout training camp. Looking to solidify the right side of the offensive line and provide depth, St. Clair has come to camp in great physical condition and has anchored the RT position. Rotating with former starting RT/RG Ryan Tucker, who himself is returning from hip and knee issues, the right side of the offensive line looks solid.

- Filling in the missing piece on the right side has been veteran Floyd Womack. Womack, yet another free-agent acquisition during the off-season has been solid since arriving in Cleveland. Teaming with St. Clair and Tucker, the right side of the line has displayed the ability to gain a push at the point of attack and maintain blocks -- a sight generally not seen a season ago for this Browns team. Its early and Womack has shown to be inconsistent throughout his career, but the Womack who's in Cleveland today appears to be an upgrade.

- Throughout the off-season, the talk was whether KR/WR Josh Cribbs would report to numerous camp sessions despite his request to have his contract reworked. When Cribbs showed up, the talk went in the direction of questioning whether the player would attend training camp, if he did not gain a resolution to the contract issue. Well, in the second week of camp, Cribbs, not known for his pass-receiving skills, is having a very good camp -- at the WR position. Cribbs noted he had worked hard during the off-season to become a better receiver and the work shows -- Cribbs is in the mix and appears to be on the verge of being more than the special teams demon he has proven to be.

- On draft day, the end appeared to be nearing for center Hank Fraley. With the Browns selecting center Alex Mack in the first round, the writing was clearly on the wall: the Browns were looking to improve the production coming from the center position. While it is only the second week of training camp, the old veteran Fraley has come into camp in the best shape of his career and is still lining up as the starting center, while Mack has struggled with inconsistency -- common for a rookie. Camp is young and Fraley is more than holding his own while being hands-on with the rookie in helping him develop his game.

- A severed Achilles tendon shelved defensive lineman Robaire Smith's season in 2008. Many players, especially large defensive linemen, have struggled to return to form following such an injury. Committed to working out and rehabbing the surgically-repaired tendon, Smith looks as good, if not better than he has at any time since joining the Browns. In the hunt to start at DE, Smith's knowledge, experience and past productivity in the 3-4 scheme makes him a valuable member of this team.

- RB Jamal Lewis may not be the player he was earlier in his career, but he is a smarter player today. Nobody in the game stays in better physical condition, and Lewis has taken RBs Jerome Harrison and James Davis under his wing. Lewis is the type of man and player that gives back to the game, as many before him have. Knowing that he is on the downside of his career, but feeling as fresh physically as he has in years, Lewis continues to mentor the young backs in the roster without hesitation and concern for his own immediate role.

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