Over the years, we've tried to provide opportunities for budding sportswriters to write for a large audience via the OBR home page. This year, working with Tri-C, we're happy to provide a chance to some of their top sportswriting students to see their words on the OBR web site. First up, here's Johnny Russo with an article about the acquisition of new CB Sheldon Brown penned prior to this year's draft...
With one major acquisition, the Cleveland Browns are bidding to develop the best secondary since the Orange and Brown returned to the NFL in 1999.
For a team that was ranked 29th in pass defense last season and 31st in overall defense last season, obtaining Brown is both a step in the right direction and a powerful sign of better times ahead for the Browns "D".
Brown will without question be immediately inserted into the starting lineup and he will most likely be paired alongside cornerback Eric Wright. Wright has proven to be a solid cornerback in the league and is anxious to take the field with his new teammate.
"It's exciting because it's an opportunity for both of us," says Cleveland's other cornerback Eric Wright. "But for me in particular because he's a veteran and a guy that's been in this league and has played at a high level for a long time. So I'm really excited for the opportunity to play with Sheldon."
Brown, 31, hasn't missed a single game since being drafted in 2002 and last season he finished with a career-best five interceptions. He also played in Superbowl XXXIX in 2004 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
"Experience goes a long way," added Wright. "Having a guy like that out there he's obviously going to be an instant leader and somebody that we can look up to and gain a lot of knowledge from."
With the secondary beginning to round into strong form, second year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will now have some flexibility with his defense.
The coverage will be much more reliable than last season and that will open up plenty of options for the defense. Wright believes there is a lot of potential and feels that once everybody is on the same page the overall team defense can become very successful.
"I think we can do well," Wright continued. "We obviously got a great player in Sheldon Brown and we have a great defensive coordinator, so I know he's going to put his players in great position to make plays. We have a great group of guys that will get it done."
Not only will Brown's veteran presence play a major factor in improving the defense, but he will also bring his reputation as a "hard-hitter" to a team lacking an identity.
"He's the kind of guy that is just going to go out there and work hard and try and get his job done," explained Wright. "He's been a solid player in this league for a long time and he knows what it takes. I don't expect nothing less than that."