Cleveland Browns Defensive Line Fallout: Time for Youth To Step Up

Daniel WolfSenior Writer IJuly 5, 2010

BEREA, OH - MAY 01:  T.J. Ward #2 of the Cleveland Browns talks with Clifton Geathers #95 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

The Cleveland Browns went into the 2010 offseason knowing their biggest holes to fill on their roster were in the defensive backfield, but they had no idea they should have filled a hole or two on the defensive line. That is, until two of their starters were charged with carrying a loaded weapon into two different airports.

First Shaun Rogers at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, then Robaire Smith at a Michigan airport.

Without being able to predict these types of occurrences, the Browns did not think to fill needs on the defensive line via the NFL draft or free agency.

Who knew two of their starting defensive linemen could be fulfilling suspensions at the beginning of the 2010 NFL regular season?

It's being projected both Rogers and Smith will face a one to three-game suspension to start the season with the notion that the legal sides of these separate cases are resolved in time.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tends to wait until the courts have their way first and then he will analyze the situation and make a ruling as to how long a suspension should be.

Both cases seem like honest mistakes and the players are very apologetic, but Goodell will probably make an example of Rogers and Smith for future purposes to show NFL players they need to be more careful and have common sense when they are off the football field.

Whether a player is on or off the football field, they represent the NFL.

So where does this leave the Browns?

If suspensions are handed down before the season begins, the Browns may face playing without two starting defensive linemen. That means some young players will have to step in and step up.

The Browns did select a late-round defensive end in Clifton Geathers (pictured above), and even though he has good size and arm length to succeed in the NFL, he is still a green rookie.

Even greener is defensive tackle Kwaku Danso, who hails from Africa. He's been playing football for only three years.

The wild card of the Browns' possible final roster candidates who could make the biggest impact is Brian Schaefering. He played in only five games in 2009, but still registered one-and-a-half sacks.

The Browns' defensive trenches may be a bit shallow for the start of 2010, but at least they have a couple of promising young players who may be able to hold their ground and give the Browns a chance to compete.

Perhaps in the 2011 offseason the Browns will look to address the defensive line since an infusion of youth is needed sooner than later, but they still have to get through 2010 first.

The season opens in Tampa Bay and then moves home with the Chiefs, so the Browns have a great chance to start off with a 2-0 record.

However, Browns fans better hope Goodell doesn't hand down suspensions over two games, but Week 3 has the Browns in Baltimore, which is always a tough place to win.

(Also posted on Dawg Scooper: THE Cleveland Browns Blog)

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