2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Browns defense on dominating roll

    2012-11-30 03:49

(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.)
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - For the past two weeks, Cleveland's defense has been a swarming mass that will stop at nothing to inflict pain and punishment on its opponent.

The Browns have been ruthless, relentless.

``They're like a bunch of fire ants,'' offensive coordinator Brad Childress said.

With consecutive dominant performances against Dallas and Pittsburgh, Cleveland's defense is establishing itself as one of the NFL's up-and-coming units. Don't tell cornerback Joe Haden that, though. He believes the Browns deserve to be considered among the elite already.

``I would say we're one of the top five defenses, for sure,'' Haden said Thursday as the Browns (3-8) continued to prepare for Sunday's game against the Raiders (3-8). ``We have people who can play their position, are really good at it and everybody's established now and they understand what's going on.

``We have playmakers that can make plays at every level, and when we're all healthy and everybody's doing their thing, we're up there with the best.''

They've certainly been at their best the past two Sundays.

Last week, the Browns forced eight turnovers - five fumbles, three interceptions - in a 20-14 win over the Steelers. The eight takeaways were the most by any team since 2001 and most by a Cleveland team since 1989. Also, the Browns held Pittsburgh to 49 yards rushing, the fewest by a Cleveland opponent in nine years.

One week earlier, the Browns sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo seven times and allowed Dallas only 64 yards rushing. Before their bye, the Browns were allowing 132.2 yards on the ground per game. Since then, they're giving up a league-low 56.

It's no coincidence that defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor have played in both games.

Taylor missed Cleveland's first eight games after having surgery to repair a chest muscle the 335-pounder tore while lifting weights in May. The underrated Rubin sat out three games with a calf injury. But now that the beefy pair have been reunited, the Browns' defense has become a heavyweight.

``It's like baseball,'' Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. ``You need to be strong up the middle. When you have two big sturdy guys in there that can play the run on first and second down, and then get push when it's time to throw the football, that definitely helps your run game.''

Cleveland's defensive line has become the team's strength.

The injuries to Taylor and Rubin allowed rookie tackles Billy Winn and John Hughes to get more playing time right away, and while there may have been some early growing pains, the two kids have quickly matured into dependable players.

Also, the return of Taylor and Rubin has freed up ends Jabaal Sheard and Frostee Rucker to make more plays, and allowed defensive coordinator Dick Jauron to rotate Juqua Parker and Ishmaa'ily Kitchen into the lineup without worrying about any letdown.

It's taken a while, but the Browns finally have the defense on the field they envisioned having to start the season.

It's all come together.

``We're just flying around playing as a solid group, a big-time unit and we've been trying to get a complete game out of us for a while,'' said Rucker, signed by Cleveland as a free agent in the offseason after six years with Cincinnati. ``We've shown flashes here and there. Starting the year, we played some good ball. It got a little bit away from us, and now we're just right back to where we want to be. We're getting guys back and we just want to make something happen these last couple of games.''

They made something happen last week.

The Browns seemed to be all over the field. They attacked Pittsburgh's running backs, causing four of them to fumble. It was rare when a Cleveland defender made a solo tackle. Usually, there were two or three orange helmets flying to the football, and more than one pair of hands ripping at the ball and trying to force a fumble.

The Steelers got stripped bare.

``They take the ball off people and people aren't readily wanting to have the ball taken off them,'' Childress said. ``That's what I see. I see lots of guys in on the pile and it's like a feeding frenzy, which is the way you want your defense. You want all 11 guys to show up.''

Along with creating turnovers, the Browns let the Steelers convert just one of nine third downs, the lowest total by a Cleveland opponent since 2006.

It's been two terrific weeks, but Haden, who was suspended four games and was injured for another, knows for the Browns defense to be regarded among the league's best, like Pittsburgh's or Baltimore's, they'll have to do it again, and again, and again.

``We're just going to keep coming in every week and keep hopefully building on those performances and then you have no choice but to look at us like a dominating defense,'' he said. ``That's what we're going for. You have to earn it.''

---

NOTES: Browns KR Josh Cribbs did not practice with what is being called a ``shoulder/chest'' injury. Cribbs declined to talk about his injury. ... Browns QB Brandon Weeden was not limited in practice for the second day in a row after returning from a concussion sustained Sunday. ... Browns CB Dimitri Patterson has practiced the past two days and hopes to play after missing six games with a severe ankle injury.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Peyton ManningJan 30 12:52p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning may make a decision on whether he plans to return for another season in the near future, according to his dad, Archie Manning. Archie [ More ]

Brandon MarshallJan 30 10:42a

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall may not return to the team in 2015, in the opinion of ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright. The thinking is that Marshall and WR Alshon [ More ]

LeSean McCoyJan 30 02:32a

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy has said he would restructure his contract to lower the $11.95 million cap hit for 2015, but he will not take a pay cut.

Larry FitzgeraldJan 29 05:52p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald's new contract should be able to get worked out this offseason, according to team president Michael Bidwill. 'Larry and I have met about it, [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 29 01:12p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) was administered a human growth hormone test by the league Wednesday, Jan. 28, and he believes it was directed at him after he [ More ]

Austin CollieJan 29 03:33a

Free-agent WR Austin Collie (Patriots) signed a contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Tom BradyJan 28 12:33p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (illness) admitted that he is currently battling a cold, but he said he expects to be 100% ready for the Super Bowl Sunday, [ More ]

Brandon MebaneJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks DL Brandon Mebane (hamstring) said Tuesday, Jan. 27, that his hamstring surgery went well and he should be full go for the team's offseason program in April.

Richard ShermanJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) has torn ligaments in his elbow, but he is improving daily and he is no longer receiving treatment for the injury.

LeGarrette BlountJan 27 08:33p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount should be a factor in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Feb. 1, in the opinion of Boston Herald writer Karen [ More ]

Adrian PetersonJan 27 07:43p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was directed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to meet with a league-assigned psychiatrist following Peterson's suspension. The National Football League Players Association is now [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 27 12:23p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is an offensive weapon that the Seattle Seahawks are focused on shutting down during the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1. Seahawks head coach [ More ]

Trent RichardsonJan 27 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson's one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team voided the guarantee of a $3,184,062 salary in 2015.

Josh GordonJan 26 02:13p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage Three of an alcohol program, which requires him to be tested for alcohol for a minimum of two years. His failed [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 26 02:03p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski could cause a problem for the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX, because the Seahawks defense allowed 11 touchdowns to tight ends this [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 26 02:03p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) said he won't miss the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots with a dislocated shoulder, but he also admitted that it won't [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 01:52p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he'll need to shut himself down this offseason in order to enter 2015 fully healthy and in great shape. He [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 26 12:33p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol, according to sources, and his failed test will subject him to a possible one-year suspension. Gordon caught 24 passes for [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 26 12:23p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee, and the surgeon who operated on him is hoping that he will be at [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 11:22a

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he played this season with two tears in his right hamstring, which never fully healed.

Josh GordonJan 25 09:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be under contract through the 2016 season, and he will only be a restricted free agent after that year due to his looming [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 25 04:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon has reportedly failed another drug test and will be subject to a one-year banishment, according to multiple league sources.

Earl ThomasJan 23 09:02p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) will play in the Super Bowl, head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Jan. 23.

Dennis PittaJan 23 04:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) met with some specialists last week, but the team is not expected to have an update on his status for a few weeks, [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 23 01:12p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel had a big proponent last year in owner Jimmy Haslam, but Haslam now thinks the team needs a quarterback in order to get their [ More ]

Jimmy GrahamJan 23 10:32a

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) said he'll rehabilitate his shoulder injury after the Pro Bowl, but he hasn't made a final decision on surgery. 'It's something we [ More ]

Mark IngramJan 22 06:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram, who will be eligible for free agency this offseason, wants to return to the team next year, and he thinks the interest is [ More ]

Vernon DavisJan 22 06:22p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had just two touchdowns in 2014, and they both came in Week 1. He also wasn't targeted at all in the red zone [ More ]

Geno SmithJan 22 05:32p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith has a lot of talent and promise, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. At the same time, Bowles acknowledged that the quarterback [ More ]

Brian HoyerJan 22 04:52p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be re-signed this offseason, according to his agent. Hoyer is expected to meet with general manager Ray Farmer and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in the near future.

Johnny ManzielJan 22 02:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel will be working with a new offensive coordinator this year in John DeFilippo, but DeFilippo is unsure if the team's quarterback next year is [ More ]

Joe FlaccoJan 22 12:52p

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco will have his fourth difference offensive coordinator in as many years in offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. However, head coach John Harbaugh is confident Flacco [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group