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Secondary Has Become Primary In Cleveland

BEREA, OH - MAY 01: T.J. Ward #2 of the Cleveland Browns talks with Joe Haden #5 during rookie mini camp at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative Complex on May 1, 2010 in Berea, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
gary wertmanCorrespondent IMay 11, 2010

Poor tackling in the Browns secondary has been a problem that has plagued the team for several years. Wide receivers running free in the defense has been a sight all too familiar to Browns fans for way too long. On a team that has struggled to keep their opponents out of the end zone, the last line of Cleveland’s defense has been very weak.

Every rule change in the NFL has been designed to help the offenses, especially the passing game. If a team does not put emphasis on strengthening their secondary, they will continue to struggle defensively. Sound familiar Browns' fans? Last year Cleveland had only 10 interceptions. Only the Rams, Lions, and Raiders had fewer. They tied for last defensively, in forced fumbles with just eight. The Browns were also one of just four teams that failed to score a defensive touchdown.

By selecting Florida cornerback Joe Haden with the seventh pick in last month’s draft, the Browns made a statement. Picking Oregon safety T.J. Ward in the second round and Nebraska safety Larry Asante in the fifth, made it clear. Improvement is on the way.

By trading for veteran corner back Sheldon Brown, from the Eagles, the Browns have now upgraded their defensive backfield with both young and veteran talent. Last year’s best corner, Eric Wright also returns along with strong safety Abe Elam.

Not since 1995 and Eric Turner, have the Cleveland Browns had a member of its  secondary make the Pro Bowl. Turner was also the last defensive back taken in the first round by the Browns. Turner was the second pick overall in the 1991 draft.

With former starters Brandon McDonald and safety Mike Adams, joining Haden, Elam, Wright, Ward, Asante, and Brown, the competition for playing time should be fierce. There should also be a huge improvement in both the tackling and physical style of play. All three rookies plus Brown are hitters. It should make for an interesting training camp and a much improved Browns defense.


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