Adkins: The Magnificent Seven (Update)

Lane names the seven players who have been truly impressing at the Browns 2007 Training Camp

Training camp is all about getting players into shape and ready for the battle on the field. In the case of the Browns, you can add to that the task of installing a new offensive scheme.

As training camp progresses, there are always a handful of players who continue to display promise only to fade into the sunset during the dog-days of this training period. We'll attempt to look past the pretenders and find the shining stars of training camp, which we call the "Magnificent Seven".

  1. Call it what you want. Tight end Kellen Winslow is a better tight end at 90% than almost anyone else in the entire league, regardless of whether they're healthy and haven't the issues he has faced. Winslow looks better than most would have expected coming off micro-fracture surgery during the off-season, and he hsa participated in far more training camp practice sessions than anticipated. Although he may have lost a half step since the knee injuries, Winslow looks like he'll be a significant threat in the Browns' more-upscale offensive scheme.

  1. There may be no better player on the defensive side of the ball than linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. As a rookie, Wimbley amassed 11 sacks and numerous pressures, while gaining a starting role by Week Two. Wimbley has been working diligently on his technique and strength over the off-season and has been a dynamic presence rushing the passer in training camp. In addition, he has greatly improved his understanding of the defensive scheme and his recognition. This has helped him tremendously in run support and pass coverage responsibilities. The biggest benefit Wimbley may see heading into the 2007 season is the pass-rushing presence of Antwan Peek on the opposite side. Don't underestimate the value of Wimbley's continued lockups with rookie left tackle Joe Thomas in camp.

  1. Sean Jones is a beast in the middle of the Browns' defensive backfield and could become one of the best in the game this season. Jones has the physical ability and makeup to display aggression when needed, and has the speed and quickness to recognize and recover in pass coverage. Throughout training camp, Jones and Brodney Pool have teamed to be as close to dominant as I recall a Browns safety tandem being in camp for a long period of time. Looking beyond pass coverage, what makes Jones so important to this team is his ability and willingness to stick his nose in run support. That is a critical part of a safety's job in the AFC North.

  1. Speaking of Pool, the second-year safety has been steady throughout training camp. Called on to replace veteran Brian Russell, Pool continues to display strong coverage skills, the quickness to cover ground while the ball is in air, and the ability to get into position to make plays. After giving up a couple completions on slant routes early in camp, Pool has been a force. Pool has been earning kudos from defensive backs coach Mel Tucker during practice sessions against the offense.

  1. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards continues to hold true to his word and let his play speak for him. Throughout his young career, I have never seen Edwards as focused and determined to make plays. The coaching of Wes Chandler has certainly helped improve the technical aspects of Edwards' game, while his standing with the players and coaches has never been at a higher level. There have been receivers close to Edwards' level in training camp. It is still early and anything can transpire. If he continues to keep it all together, Edwards could have a very strong season.

  1. Leon Williams is going to be a starting linebacker in the NFL. Williams' stands out because of the physical aspect he brings to the position. Attacking and quick afoot, Williams steps into the hole to make plays at or near the line of scrimmage. The element of quickness he provides changes the complexion of the interior of the Browns linebacker corps. Veteran starter Andra Davis has performed well for the Browns, but Williams could help stabilize the Browns' defense against the run. While Davis is on the sideline with a bum ankle, Williams has stepped into his role and has displayed an explosion missing from the front seven of the defense, outside of Kamerion Wimbley and Antwan Peek.

  1. During the early sessions of training camp, LT Joe Thomas would struggle a bit and then improve as the session went on. Thomas has been much more solid and consistent of late. Practicing against the likes of Kamerion Wimbley and Robaire Smith has helped tremendously. The explosive practice battles between Wimbley and the rookie have been a highlight of an otherwise very workmanlike training camp. Thomas' quickness and agility is coming to the fore as he gains experience against professional linemen and pass rushing linebackers. Very few linemen move as well as Thomas does. What makes him more impressive is he is displaying more of a physical presence at the left tackle position than many expected at this point in his career.



LA