Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Extra Points …
State of the defense: When Ray Horton was named Browns defensive coordinator, there was a slight semantics difference between he and coach Rob Chudzinski in describing the ultimate look of the unit.
Chudzinski called it a “hybrid 3-4” and Horton called it “an attacking defense using multiple fronts.”
As Horton prepares to debut his full defensive look in the opener Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, he explained the ambiguity of categorizing his defense.
“Whether we’re a 2-5 (front alignment) or 4-3 or 3-4, or 4-4, we’re gonna use all of those,” he said. “The beauty of the package, our guys, they’re all smart and all interchangeable. We have multiple players that can play multiple positions. I don’t think anybody will categorize us as a ‘something.’ They’ll say, ‘Wow, they play a lot of stuff.’”
New year, new team: A year ago, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a breakout game against Horton’s Arizona defense in his fourth start as a rookie. Tannehill completed 26 of 41 passes for 431 yards and one touchdown. Hartline had 12 catches for a Dolphins-record 253 yards, including an 80-yard TD. The Cardinals won in overtime, 24-21.
“I think I’m most impressed with his poise,” Horton said of Tannehill. “He’s athletic, a former wide receiver in college. He’ll get growth in the league. He’s got touch on his passes. I believe he was the highest-ranked QB in completions over 21 yards last year.”
Browns linebacker Paul Kruger had an interesting observation about Tannehill.
“I think people underestimate his speed,” Kruger said. “When you dive into the tape, I would compare him to Cam Newton or Robert Griffin 3 type of speed. You’ll see some plays that will really surprise you. He’s got a good arm. I think he’s got a huge future. From what I’ve seen on tape, the guy can really do some special things.”
Right side pressure: Usually the left tackle on the offensive line has the responsibility of keeping the defense’s best pass rusher off the quarterback. But Sunday, the task will fall to Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who draws Dolphins sack artist Cameron Wake in his first assignment of the new season.
Wake, who lines up exclusively as the Dolphins’ left end, is coming off a 15-sack season.
Left tackle Joe Thomas said, “He reminds me a lot of Demarcus Ware (of the Cowboys), the way he attacks and uses his hands.”
Schwartz said he has studied game tapes of Wake in the preseason along with about “seven or eight” games from last season.
“If you open up on him, kind of give him a two-way go, he can take advantage there,” he said. “If you’re too worried about his speed and you fly upfield, he can come underneath or just bull rush you. It’s just about being really fundamentally sound.
“He keeps rushing. He doesn’t give up on any plays. He doesn’t shut it down. Obviously, he has athleticism and speed and power to get by you right away. And if doesn’t, he’s got a move or two to keep working on the quarterback.”
Mingo update: The Browns won’t comment on the status of Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung) until Friday. For the second day in a row, the rookie linebacker had limited participation in individual drills. It’s evident Mingo will not make his NFL debut on Sunday.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Horton said. “We believe whomever’s on the field will play for us. I’m disappointed for him. He’ll come back. He’ll be ready to play when his body tells him to. Would I like to have him out there? Yes. Am I disappointed? No. I believe we have capable players that will step up and play.”
|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 firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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