Cox, Leonard Go Toe-to-Toe

Last time a defensive lineman crossed paths with assistant coach, he was cut. Will Leonard suffer the same fate?

Defensive lineman Louis Leonard has been with the Browns for about 22½ months.

It will be interesting to see if his tenure gets to 22 ½ months and day.

Leonard got into a little tiff with defensive line coach Bryan Cox during training camp on Thursday and had to run four laps around the field as punishment. What the exact problem was is not clear, but the two exchanged some rather heated words before the third-year pro made like a cross country runner.

The last time Cox and a Browns defensive lineman got into it in camp, the player was cut less than 24 hours later. That player? Shaun Smith, who has since signed with the Detroit Lions and will return to Cleveland on Saturday night to help provide the opposition for the Browns preseason home opener.

But if Leonard saves himself, then it will be because he was apologetic when he met with the media afterwards. Smith didn't meet with reporters after his incident a couple of weeks ago because the interview period for that day was already over, but at the same time, he didn't seem sorry for his actions with the way he brooded and pouted on the field, appearing to make Cox even more upset.

In addition, Leonard had no previous record of acting up with the Browns before the incident. He is extremely quiet and soft-spoken and has never seemed to cause a problem since signing with the Browns in October 2007 after being released by the St. Louis Rams the day before. He's been a good teammate and good in the locker room.

Though mostly friendly, Smith, on the other hand, did indeed have a record after punching quarterback Brady Quinn in a locker room incident last December. Along with that, Smith he was always talking and sometimes said things just to rile up people. It was his way of joking, but not everyone took it that way.

Last year, for instance, as the team was warming up before a practice, Smith made some personal remarks to former Browns tight end Kellen Winslow, some of which involved Winslow's father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow. Finally, Winslow nearly came after Smith while the lineman just kept talking and trying to push his buttons. 

Cox is a good friend of Browns head coach Eric Mangini. To cross Cox is to cross Mangini. And to cross Mangini, a no-nonsense, strict disciplinarian who doesn't like it when players go over the line with their personality, shall we say, is to write your own ticket off the roster.

"I'm a player and he's a coach, and I abide by the rules," Leonard said, who was smiling and seemed calm and good-natured. "It was in the heat of the moment. He's a good coach. If you pay attention to what he says, you'll learn a lot. And I've learned a lot from him."

Leonard even joked about his running. When asked how many laps, exactly, he did, he cracked, "I don't know. I lost count at three."

As he ran, he practiced his defensive line hand movements the players work on constantly.

"I figured if I was going to run, I might as well use the time to get better at something," he smiled.

Finally, though, Leonard knew he had talked enough. It was time to shut up so as to remain a Brown.

"I'm not taking any more questions about me and B. Cox," he said.

If Leonard is still around on Saturday, then maybe he and Smith can compare notes on the field before the game and the former Browns defensive lineman can learn when to draw the line, especially when a coach is involved.


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