As training camp winds down and we are headed into the third preseason game, the competition for the open positions at cornerback appear to have come down to rookie Joe Haden and veteran Eric Wright for the final spot. Former Philadelphia Eagle Sheldon Brown appears to have the right cornerback locked up.
According to Jeff Schudel at the News Herald, “I’ve started since I was a rookie,” Wright said after a practice last week. “I’m looking to start this year just because I’m a competitor. And [when] you get put in a position where people say it’s an open competition, you want to win. We’re not quite there yet. We’ll see opening day, but it’s going to be what it is.
“I have extreme confidence in my ability. I didn’t feel threatened at all. I just felt like there was a time for us to make some moves in the offseason and try to better this team, so competition brings out the best in everybody and cream always rises to the top. It was an exciting time more than anything.”
Rookie Joe Haden from Florida has had a solid training camp and started the Green Bay game in place of Wright, who suffered an injury to his right leg August 10th in camp. Unfortunately for Haden, he was on the field when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 12/13 for 159 yards and a touchdown.
He did have three tackles and one pass break up during the game.
Wright was back for the the second preseason game against the St. Louis Rams and had an eventful evening. The normally sure-handed corner dropped two picks that my 12-year-old could have snatched. He also was called for pass interference.
On the other hand, the silky smooth cover corner stuck his nose in the pile and came away with five tackles and one pass break up. Wright also spent time covering the slot during the game, which was a new experience for him.
Haden also had a nice night with two tackles and two passes defended for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's hungry defense that allowed only 172 net yards despite losing 19-17 to the Rams.
Wright and Haden are two entirely different types of athletes on the field. Wright is more fluid and graceful while Haden is more dynamic and sudden.
Wright prefers to run with his receiver in and out of breaks while Haden is more physical and will use his hands and body to slow a receiver when he thinks he can get away with it.
Wright will gamble, especially on sideline outs and despite his two drops against the Rams, he has an outstanding pair of hands.
Haden has good hands and athleticism, which he displayed when he returned two kickoffs against the Rams.
Haden is an outstanding tackler and his ability to support the run has to have Ryan's playbook growing.
Wright is improving against the run and wraps up his receivers in a textbook manner following catches.
Overall, Wright has done nothing to lose his starting position. The cornerback participated in offseason OTAs and minicamps and was a key contributor during last season's four-game winning streak.
Wright's game has improved every year and his playmaking ability is definitely needed on the field for the Browns in 2010. Whether it's as the starting left cornerback or the nickelback remains to be seen, but he certainly has put forth a solid case to start.