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Two AFC North rivals trade for left tackles: Are they fearing the Browns' resurgent defense?

Oct 02, 2013 -- 5:15pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Extra Points …

AFC North is watching: The Browns’ pressure defense must be gaining attention. On Wednesday, two of their fiercest rivals traded for offensive left tackles.

The Ravens gave up undisclosed conditional picks for Jacksonville’s Eugene Monroe and the Steelers did the same for Arizona’s Levi Brown.

Monroe will replace behemoth Bryant McKinnie, who gave up a sack to Barkevious Mingo on Mingo’s first NFL play on defense in Game 2 in Baltimore.

Brown will replace Mike Adams, the former Ohio State lineman who has been taking heat for Ben Roethlisberger’s protection problems. The Steelers are 0-4.

Naturally, those teams have their own issues, but they have to have noticed the Browns’ significant improvement on defense. The Ravens beat the Browns in Brandon Weeden’s last game as the starting quarterback, 14-6. The Steelers still have to play the Browns two times.

On a conference call with media on Wednesday, Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said that quarterbacks in the NFL are treated like “$100 million Ferraris.”

“This is a quarterback-driven league and you have to protect that investment,” Horton said. “That’s obviously the most important position on the field other than quarterback on offense. It’s critical that you let that guy stay upright and out of the supine position and throw the ball. That’s no surprise to me.”

Who’s No. 2?: The Browns won’t disclose who is their backup quarterback behind Hoyer Thursday night until they announce their inactives 90 minutes before game-time against the Bills.

But it sounded on Wednesday as if it may be Jason Campbell. Turner made the case that Weeden, whose sprained thumb has healed and was cleared to practice this week, received few practice reps in the compressed work week and might not be ready to even serve as Hoyer’s backup.

Speaking on a conference call, coordinator Norv Turner said, “Obviously, the good thing about the job I have is that Chud (head coach Rob Chudzinski) has to make that decision. As you saw, we had a brisk walk-through, a jog-through, on Monday, and a really good practice yesterday, but it’s not many reps. I think coach is thinking about that right now. He wanted to talk about it tonight. If we feel Brandon’s comfortable, then that’s obviously what we’re going to do. But he’s really had only one day of practice.”

Taking ownership: Horton had a lot of good things to say about linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, and in the context of that he disclosed that Jackson conducts players-only meetings each Friday with the defense and also hosts get-togethers at his house regularly to continue discussions about the team.

“They talk about what’s important to them,” Horton said. “It’s one of these ownership things where they bond and feel empowered that they could have their own meetings and run things and suggest things and draw up their own plays. When they get to have impact into plays -- not only what they call but them designing plays for us -- it feels like their team.”

Horton said he has been with impressed with Jackson ever since he took the job and received a phone call from the senior member of the defense.

“When your first phone call is from your leader and your captain, D’Qwell Jackson, and he says, ‘Coach, you tell us what to do and we’ll do it. We’re tired of losing,’ it gives you that clay to mold because they weren’t going to fight what we do. He is unquestionably the leader of this team. What he says goes here. He’s really been an extra coach on the field for me.”

Game note: Rain is in the forecast for Thursday night, so the Browns remind everyone to dress accordingly for the Bills game. Under the new NFL bag policy, no umbrellas are allowed in FirstEnergy Stadium.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@espncleveland.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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