The Browns gambled a change of scenery will make Shaun Rogers a different player. As the organized team activities portion of their training program was winding down, they are convinced the gamble will pay off.
Browns general manager Phil Savage traded the Lions a third-round draft pick and cornerback Leigh Bodden in the deal made on Feb. 29. They also gave Rogers three added years on his contract for a total package of six years and $42 million. Coach Romeo Crennel said the trade could not have been made if the Browns hadn't given Rogers the extension.
"Shaun is a physical specimen," Crennel said. "He's got good size, good strength. I think he'll be hard to handle one-on-one, which will force some double teams.
"From time to time he'll be able to penetrate versus one guy, so I'm encouraged by what I see. His attitude has been good. He's been working. No problems, a smile on his face."
Some in the media thought it was noteworthy Shaun Rogers was not with the first team in OTAs. Instead, Corey Williams was at left end, Shaun Smith at nose tackle and Robaire Smith at right end. After watching Crennel coach for three seasons and preparing for a fourth, it would have been a bigger surprise if Rogers was with the first team and Shaun Smith was on the sideline.
Crennel has always made players earn their starting positions. Star status in college or with another team doesn't mean anything to him once the player enters the Browns training complex in Berea.
Williams is as new with the Browns as Rogers, but he was with the first team because the player who would have been in front of him, Orpheus Roye, was released over the winter.
"We have a bunch of good guys fighting for a common goal," Rogers said. "There's a lot of camaraderie here. That's been the biggest thing I've noticed.
"I'm just trying to keep myself in the best shape possible and doing what it takes to make sure I'm healthy."
Rogers might not match the seven sacks he recorded with the Lions last year. The same goes for Williams, who played in a 4-3 defense with the Packers. Williams and Rogers will be asked to tie up the offensive linemen in front of them so Kamerion Wimbley will be able to rush the quarterback. There will be times when Rogers and Williams rush (Williams also had seven sacks) but it is unrealistic to expect each to duplicate those numbers while Wimbley and the other outside linebacker increase their sack totals.
"This scheme is very unselfish," Rogers said when asked if he could have a career year. "When you're talking about a career year, you're looking more toward stats. Our goal is to have a winning defense, a top-10 defense. I want to play my part in that. It's not a get off and get 'em defense like I'm used to playing. It's more about being patient and unselfish. I'm making my adjustments to that."