Throughout the Browns' training camp in Berea, Bernie's Insiders will focus on players' thoughts as they get ready for the 2005 National Football League season. We will bring you periodic bytes as the players conclude practice and meet with the media. These will include the words of veterans and rookies alike as coach Romeo Crennel and his staff puts together the best 53-man roster.
On practicing in pads Friday: I heard it was arranged, but you never know. Coach Crennel has been taking real good care of us. He just wanted to us to get our legs underneath us and get used to running around with the helmet on a little bit. Tomorrow (Saturday), it'll come. You don't beg because you know you'll get what you'll beg for.
On the switch to the 3-4 defense and where he'll fit in aside from special teams: They've got me playing in the middle. Trying to learn the system. Now it's more like trying to perfect the system, seeing if you can work in the mix. That's kind of what everyone is working toward. Everybody's behind each other. And with special teams, it's another big emphasis in my game that I've got to pick up and lead.
On never playing the 3-4 before: This is all new. Tomorrow will be new with the pads on. I'm looking forward to it. A lot of us are looking forward to it. I like to run downhill and hit people. So that's what they've got me doing as a mike (middle) linebacker. I'm working strongside now. But they're pretty much interchangeable. But the more you can do, the better it is for your chances of making the team. I make sure I know as many of the linebacker positions as possible just in case they say, "Hey, go in there" and I can run it like they want me to.
On no pads: Not surprised. Want to know why? Because I've been here already for a week. Basically, what we did on Monday we did today.
On being interchangeable at cornerback and safety: I think I am, but right now, they've got me at cornerback and playing a little bit of the nickelback.
On playing time last season helping his confidence this season: We've got two good corners in front of me and a lot of good corners that are backups and I'm just trying to fit in where I can fit in.
On what coaches are telling him: They're telling me to keep getting better every day and I'm going to be a better player.
On seeing the possibility of more man-to-man pass coverage: Yeah, but we're going to mix it up. We're going to do a lot of different things. We've got a lot of things in store with Romeo and our defensive coordinator (Todd Grantham).
On the opportunity to contribute this season: My mind-set is to come out every day and work. You can't take any days off here. There are plenty of guys around the league doing exactly the same thing I'm doing and you can't afford to have any bad days. It's important to come out and be proficient in your technique and know what it is you're doing.
On what coaches are telling him: They reflect some of the same sentiment. We want to come out and be mentally and physically tough and stop them on first and second down. Just come out and do what we do. We need to establish ourselves and create our own identity seeing that's it's a new situation.
On where he's best suited on the defensive line: They're interchangeable. Similar schemes, just different position on the field. I feel comfortable out there at end. But it really makes no difference to me, honestly, to go out there and perform.
On his approach as he begins his first pro training camp: Lay it all on the line. Day by day.
On the attitude so far at camp: The attitude around here is very upbeat, uptempo, positive. A lot of guys want to change this around and I think we're getting the first steps down.
On what he wants to show the coaches: My main focus is to do as much as I can, show the coaches I can as many things as I can. They can utilize me in any way they want to.
On his preference to play a specific position on the defensive line: I played both sides (of the line) in college (at Ohio State). So I'm comfortable with both sides here.
On the Browns' poor run defense last season being used as a motivation this season: That doesn't matter. It's just like a newspaper. Pro athletes can get caught up in that. People are going to write their opinions. That's what they get paid for, their opinions. It's our job to go out and not prove them wrong because we're not playing this game for the people who write. We're playing it for ourselves and for the guys on this field, the people in this community, all the Cleveland Browns fans. That's who we're playing this game for.
On how the 3-4 best suits him: It allows guys like Ben Taylor and me to be athletes. It allows us to fall back and use our natural instincts and athletic ability a little more. In 4-3, you usually have one gap and you hit your gap. You have to be disciplined.
On the difficulty switching to the 3-4: You have to be a little patient in the 3-4. In the 3-4, you've got to slow-play it because you not only have the A gap, sometimes you also have the C gap.
On the possibility of being a third-down back: That makes a lot of sense. I hope I get that opportunity. I'm very capable of doing it. I've been trying to press the coaches to give me the opportunity. And when the opportunity presents itself, I will take it. I'm sure coach Crennel is aware of my versatility. That's a coaching move. I jokingly said something to them, but I'll probably try to strengthen that joke. Whatever I have to do for the team to make it, whatever I have to do to make them shine, I'm doing it all for the team. I love the support from the fans. This is a great opportunity to be here. Right now, I'm soaking up this opportunity that I have in front of me.
On his first impression when he went onto the field for the first time: It was "Wow!" I just looked at the fan base (who ringed the field) and looked around. This is what I'm entering. This is Cleveland fan base and it's phenomenal, it's great. Especially coming from Kent State, where the fan base wasn't all up to par. Coming here to Cleveland is great. I'm going to love it here.
On how he's coming along making the switch from quarterback to wide receiver: I've come so far. I feel so comfortable at the position. I feel like a natural catcher. Coach (wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie) has been giving me pointers every day. He's been on my back. You put me anywhere and sharpen my skills at that position and I'll be great. I'm trying to show the coaches that. Doing whatever I can for this program.