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

Johnny ManzielAug 21 08:22a

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel will not have a package of plays created for him to run off the bench, according to head coach Mike Pettine. Manziel has been [ More ]

Geno SmithAug 21 02:23a

New York Jets QB Geno Smith will start Week 1 versus the Oakland Raiders, barring an injury. The coaching staff has yet to officially name Smith the starter.

Geno AtkinsAug 21 12:53a

Cincinnati Bengals DE Geno Atkins (knee) will be ready for the regular season opener against the Baltimore Ravens Sept. 7, head coach Marvin Lewis said Wednesday, Aug. 20. In [ More ]

Walt AikensAug 21 12:53a

Miami Dolphins CB Walt Aikens (hand) is sidelined indefinitely due to a left hand injury suffered a practice earlier this week. No timetable has been established for his return.

Tyler WilsonAug 21 12:53a

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hip), DT David King (undisclosed), CB Lavelle Westbrooks (undisclosed) and QB Tyler Wilson (head) were unable to practice Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Andre SmithAug 21 12:53a

Cincinnati Bengals OT Andre Smith (concussion) said Wednesday, Aug. 20, that he expects to get cleared to play in the preseason game Sunday, Aug. 24, against the Arizona Cardinals. [ More ]

Jalil BrownAug 21 12:53a

Miami Dolphins CB Jalil Brown, CB Don Jones, FS Jordan Kovacs and FS Michael Thomas appear to be fighting for two roster spots. Thomas has reportedly had a good [ More ]

Knowshon MorenoAug 21 12:53a

Miami Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (knee) said Wednesday, Aug. 20, that he feels good. The team wants to see him practice Thursday, Aug. 21, before deciding if he will [ More ]

Andre JohnsonAug 20 10:43p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson has showed no signs of rust from his time away from the team this offseason. Johnson had an impressive practice during joint workouts with [ More ]

Trent RichardsonAug 20 10:33p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson is off to a slow start in training camp and the preseason, posting just 34 yards in 14 attempts. At 2.4 yards per carry, [ More ]

Emmanuel SandersAug 20 10:33p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (quadriceps) was involved in practice Wednesday, Aug. 20, but he is not working in 'live' setting yet. Head coach John Fox would not rule [ More ]

Montee BallAug 20 10:33p

Denver Broncos RB Montee Ball (appendix) continues to do more work in practice each day, but most of his work continues to be outside of the team structure. However, [ More ]

LeGarrette BlountAug 20 07:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB LeGarrette Blount and RB Le'Veon Bell were charged by Ross Township Police Wednesday, Aug. 20, with marijuana possession.

Le'Veon BellAug 20 07:43p

Pittsburgh Pirates RB Le'Veon Bell and RB LeGarrette Blount were charged by Ross Township Police Wednesday, Aug. 20, with marijuana possession. Bell was also charged with driving under the [ More ]

Ryan McBeanAug 20 05:53p

The Arizona Cardinals signed DT Ryan McBean (Ravens) Wednesday, Aug. 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Colt LyerlaAug 20 05:43p

The Green Bay Packers placed TE Colt Lyerla (knee) on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Pat DevlinAug 20 05:33p

Free-agent WR Kevin Elliott (Bills), LS Chad Rempel (Bears), QB Pat Devlin (Dolphins) and DT Jibreel Black (Buccaneers) all cleared waivers Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Vontaze BurfictAug 20 05:33p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict agreed to a multi-year contract extension Wednesday, Aug. 20. Terms of the new deal were not disclosed.

Isaac SopoagaAug 20 05:13p

The Arizona Cardinals signed DT Isaac Sopoaga (Patriots) Wednesday, Aug. 20, per a league source. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Jordan NorwoodAug 20 04:53p

Denver Broncos WR Jordan Norwood (knee) suffered a torn acute cruciate ligament in practice Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Isaiah PeadAug 20 04:33p

The St. Louis Rams waived RB Isaiah Pead (knee) with a waived/injured designation Wednesday, Aug. 20. Pead will revert back to the roster if he clears waivers.

Phillip TannerAug 20 03:43p

The Indianapolis Colts waived RB Phillip Tanner Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Dexter McDougleAug 20 03:43p

The New York Jets placed CB Dexter McDougle (knee) on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Aug. 20.

David FluellenAug 20 03:23p

The Indianapolis Colts acquired RB David Fluellen (Eagles) in exchange for PK Cody Parkey Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Desmond BryantAug 20 02:53p

Cleveland Browns DE Desmond Bryant (wrist) recently underwent wrist surgery. Head coach Mike Pettine said he is not sure if Bryant will be available to play Week 1.

S. SylvesterAug 20 02:43p

The Buffalo Bills have placed LB Stevenson Sylvester (undisclosed) on the Reserve/Injured list.

Michael CrabtreeAug 20 02:33p

San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree said he did not feel like himself when he returned from offseason Achilles' tendon surgery last season. 'I was fast enough to be [ More ]

Fendi OnobunAug 20 02:23p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have waived/injured TE Fendi Onobun (knee).

Eric KettaniAug 20 02:23p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed free-agent FB Eric Kettani (Chiefs). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Sebastian VollmerAug 20 01:13p

New England Patriots OT Sebastian Vollmer (undisclosed) was not on the field during practice Wednesday, Aug. 20. Vollmer has missed the last three practices because of an undisclosed reason.

Peyton HillisAug 20 01:03p

New York Giants CB Prince Amukamara (groin), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), RB Peyton Hillis (ankle, foot), OT Charles Brown (shoulder) and OT James Brewer (back) are not participating in practice Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Cody WallaceAug 20 12:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Shaquille Richardson (knee), LB Jordan Zumwalt (hamstring), TE Eric Waters (concussion), C Cody Wallace (finger) and LS Greg Warren (knee) will not play in the third preseason game.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group