Inside the OTAs: Defense and Mangini

The OTAs are mostly closed to the media, but Lane's sources are giving him some insight into what's happening on the defensive side of the ball. How are the youngsters coming along? Are the pieces fitting? And is there a "new" Eric Mangini?

The latest buzz reaching my ears...

- As you might be able to tell from the media coverage of the only open OTA practice to date, the Browns offense remains ahead of the defense at this stage of the game. But the defense is gaining ground. Tthe youngsters on Rob Ryan's unit are starting to internalize the scheme and the new veterans brought in are absorbing the philosophy. This unit continues to develop.

- LB Scott Fujita and CB Sheldon Brown are providing a veteran presence - and breath of fresh air - to this Browns team. Every indication is that the younger players are listening to veterans such as Fujita and Brown, as well as NT Shaun Rogers and LB David Bowens.

- Sheldon Brown has been impressive. Other members of the defensive backfield have taken to his personality and desire. Brown is showing a willingness to play technical and aggressive football, but even more impressive has been his demeanor in lending his expertise to both experienced and inexperienced defenders.

- Through the early OTA sessions, Brown - who was speculated to be an option at safety - has been a steady participant at cornerback. The rookies and others at the safety position on the roster continue to take the reps there, with the 2010 drafted rookies spending plenty of time with the first and second units.

- The LB spots have been a wide-open affair in the OTA sessions. With veteran D'Qwell Jackson and Matt Roth holding out of the sessions, Chris Gocong (acquired in off-season trade) along with Marcus Benard and Titus Brown have been busy working in the scheme.

- Second-year LB David Veikune is working solely inside during the OTA sessions and has been much more consistent and reactive. With the addition of veterans during the off-season, the pressure to force Veikune into action has been reduced. The player is being developed at a much more realistic pace.

- The OTA sessions in Cleveland are vastly different than those conducted a season ago. Head coach Eric Mangini appears to be much more grounded and in-tune to his role and those in the locker room.

- In the not-so-recent past, Mangini was often described to theOBR as a tough nut to crack, lending little support and somewhat full of himself. Early in these sessions, he has been described as quite the opposite. The head coach has lent support, cracked some jokes and displayed a personality only witnessed sparingly a season ago.

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