2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Kruger eager for lead role with Browns

By TOM WITHERS - AP Sports Writer
    2013-03-13 18:09

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - An unexpected purge pushed Paul Kruger out of Baltimore, where he was just one of the guys.

Cleveland's early spending splurge in free agency landed with the Browns, who are counting on the linebacker to get to the quarterback and lead their restocked defense.

They hope he can be a star.

Cashing in on a breakout season with the Ravens, Kruger signed a five-year, $40 million contract on Wednesday with the Browns. The 27-year-old was a part-time player on one of the NFL's top defenses. He's now gone from a Super Bowl winner to a perennial loser - the Browns have lost at least 11 games in each of the past five seasons. But that hardly matters to Kruger, who wants to prove last season was no fluke.

``Leaving Baltimore gives you the opportunity to step out of a couple shadows that you might have been in when you were there,'' Kruger said. ``That's not a negative thing in any way. Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, those are older brothers to me, and they're guys who I text on a daily basis and I'm very close with.

``But, yeah, I definitely see that as an opportunity for me to be able to show that I can do a lot of things.''

The Browns began free agency more than $47 million under the salary cap, and in the first 24 hours of the market being open, they signed Kruger, lineman Desmond Bryant and linebacker Quentin Groves, three players to begin the transformation from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 multifront defense under new coordinator Ray Horton.

Kruger finished with 13 1/2 sacks last season - 4 1/2 in the playoffs - when he finally got a chance to start after being a reserve during his first three seasons. Of course, it was tough for him to crack Baltimore's starting lineup, but there's also a theory that he only put up big statistics because offenses were busy double-teaming Suggs, Lewis and Ngata.

Kruger has struggled to stop the run, which has limited his playing time.

``I just want to be an every down player that's really effective in creating a strong force on defense,'' he said. ``That's the biggest thing I want to change, just being somebody you can rely on during the whole game. I think that I was deemed as a pass rusher only and it's something I think I'll be able to show people I can be effective on every snap.''

Kruger will start at one outside linebacker spot with Jabaal Sheard, the team's best pass rusher last season, switching from an end to linebacker.

``I'm ready to work, prove myself, and make plays,'' Sheard said on Twitter. ``New position OLB I'm hype.''

With millions to spend, the Browns made upgrading the defense a top priority in free agency. There's more needs to be addressed, but CEO Joe Banner said he's pleased with the team's early splash.

``You go into this with a plan,'' he said. ``You're competing with 31 other teams, so you don't know what your success rate is going to be. But we feel great about what's happened so far. Frankly it's gone as well if not better than we were hoping.''

So, what's next?

``Soon to find out,'' Banner said softly.

The Browns would like to find a starting cornerback, and they've publicly stated their desire to bring in a quarterback to compete with Brandon Weeden, who had an uneven rookie season. Banner would not pinpoint what the team would target next as it tries to climb its way out of the league's basement.

``We're just going to look at where we feel there's opportunities with quality players,'' Banner said. ``Again, part of the long-term plan is to fill spots with quality players that we think can be part of building eventually a championship team as opposed to stopgap measures.''

Banner has refused to discuss any of the Browns' own free agents, and he sidestepped whether there's a chance Pro Bowl kicker Phil Dawson will be re-signed.

``I'm still not going to answer that question,'' Banner said. ``Once that situation finalizes itself, I'll answer that question.''

Kruger has been surprised by the mass exodus in Baltimore. Since the end of the season, the Ravens have lost Lewis to retirement, traded wide receiver Anquan Boldin, let inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbee leave as a free agent and released safety Bernard Pollard.

Those changes have weakened the defending champions.

``It's definitely going to be a different group of guys,'' Kruger said. ``That's a lot of key guys on the defense to lose. I'm sure that there's a plan in place and it's a great organization. But that is definitely a lot of good players leaving.''

Kruger is proud of his time with Baltimore, where he learned work ethic, how to compete, and most importantly, how to win. He intends to carry that knowledge to Cleveland.

``I definitely want to be a leader,'' he said. ``No guy walks into a new locker room and immediately becomes the captain or whatever. You have to earn the respect of your teammates and you have to create bonds and demonstrate you're a guy that people can follow and trust.

``I don't expect that to happen overnight. I don't expect that to be an easy process. I'll definitely be somebody the team can rely on and the defense can look to to make plays.''

--

NOTES: Banner confirmed the team agreed to terms with TE Gary Barnidge, who played for Browns coach Rob Chudzinski in Carolina last season. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder started five games and finished with six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Arian FosterSep 23 12:43p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring), who is day-to-day with a hamstring injury, is unsure if he'll be able to return in Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills. RB [ More ]

Deonte ThompsonSep 23 12:43p

The Baltimore Ravens re-signed WR Deonte Thompson Tuesday, Sept. 23. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

James HarrisonSep 23 12:43p

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Jarvis Jones (wrist) had surgery to fix his dislocated wrist Tuesday, Sept. 23, and he'll miss at least eight weeks. LB Arthur Moats is expected to [ More ]

Brandon MarshallSep 23 12:33p

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall (ankle) was held to just one catch for six yards in the team's Week 3 win over the New York Jets Monday, Sept. 22. [ More ]

Martellus BennettSep 23 12:33p

Chicago Bears TE Martellus Bennett had five catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 3 win against the New York Jets Monday, Sept. 22. He leads [ More ]

Mike TolbertSep 23 12:33p

Carolina Panthers FB Mike Tolbert (leg) was placed on Active/Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Sept. 23.

D.J. SmithSep 23 12:33p

The Carolina Panthers signed D.J. Smith (Texans) to the active roster Tuesday, Sept. 23.

Eric BerrySep 23 12:33p

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (ankle) is dealing with a high ankle sprain, according to a league source. Berry suffered the injury in Week 2 and sat out [ More ]

Kellen DavisSep 23 11:53a

The Baltimore Ravens are working out TEs Emmanuel Ogbuehi, Jake Murphy, Matt Mulligan and Kellen Davis. Dennis Pitta (hip) is headed to the Reserve/Injured list.

James HarrisonSep 23 10:23a

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free-agent LB James Harrison (Bengals) to an undisclosed deal.

Eric DeckerSep 23 10:23a

New York Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring) said he didn't re-injure his hamstring Monday, Sept. 22, but it just wouldn't loosen up. He said he pulled himself from the [ More ]

Denard RobinsonSep 23 09:33a

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Denard Robinson will start to receive more targets in the near future. He had eight carries for 33 yards in Week 3. 'I think that Denard [ More ]

Jonathan StewartSep 23 09:13a

Updating previous reports, Carolina Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (knee) could miss a month due to his sprained knee, in the opinion of beat writer Joseph Person.

Sherrod MartinSep 23 09:03a

The Jacksonville Jaguars re-signed free-agent SS Sherrod Martin to an undisclosed deal.

Manti Te'oSep 23 08:33a

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot) will miss several weeks due to a fractured foot. He won't be placed on Injured Reserve, but he'll miss multiple weeks. The [ More ]

Bishop SankeySep 23 08:23a

Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey's footwork is still an issue of concern to head coach Ken Whisenhunt, despite Sankey's 10-carry, 60-yard performance in Week 3.

Josh BynesSep 23 06:33a

Free-agent LB Josh Bynes (Ravens), who was cut from the team but brought to the practice squad at the start of September, will sign with the Detroit Lions within [ More ]

Marion GriceSep 23 06:23a

The Arizona Cardinals signed RB Marion Grice to a two-year contract Monday, Sept. 22, financial terms of which were not disclosed. Grice had been on the San Diego Chargers' practice squad.

Marcus EasleySep 23 06:23a

Updating a previous item, Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee) suffered a sprained MCL and could be out 4-6 weeks. The team has not used its injured reserve/designated to [ More ]

DeAngelo HallSep 23 06:13a

Washington Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland, the team's fourth-round draft pick this year, could see more time on the field in the wake of the injury to CB DeAngelo Hall (Achilles').

Brandon MarshallSep 22 10:33p

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall (ankle) was back on the field in the second half after leaving the team's Week 3 contest Monday, Sept. 22, with an ankle injury.

EJ ManuelSep 22 09:33p

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel struggled with deeper passes in Week 3, completing just three of his 12 attempts. He didn't have a completion for more than 16 yards. [ More ]

Kam ChancellorSep 22 07:33p

Seattle Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor (knee) considered ankle surgery after Week 2, according to a source. Chancellor is dealing with bone spurs in his ankle, and he would have [ More ]

Alshon JefferySep 22 07:21p

Chicago Bears WRs Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (ankle) are both active for the Week 3 game against the New York Jets. Both were questionable for the game.

Brandon MarshallSep 22 07:13p

Chicago Bears WRs Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (ankle) are both active for the Week 3 game against the New York Jets. Both were questionable for the game.

Eric DeckerSep 22 07:13p

New York Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring) is active for the team's Week 3 game against the Chicago Bears Monday, Sept. 22.

A.J. EddsSep 22 07:13p

The New York Jets have declared LB A.J. Edds, OG Ben Ijalana, OL Dakota Dozier, CB Dee Milliner, DE IK Enemkpali, DL T.J. Barnes, WR Walter Powell inactive for Week 3.

Ryan ShazierSep 22 07:02p

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier's (knee) medial collateral ligament sprain isn't expected to be season-ending. Shazier was walking around with his right leg in a brace Monday, Sept. 22.

Keenan RobinsonSep 22 06:53p

Washington Redskins DE Chris Baker (ankle, hip), DE Kedric Golston (groin), DE Jason Hatcher (hamstring), LB Akeem Jordan (knee), DE Frank Kearse (ankle), OG Shawn Lauvao (knee), C Kory [ More ]

Ike TaylorSep 22 06:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Ike Taylor (forearm) underwent surgery to fix his broken right forearm Monday, Sept. 22, and he is expected to be out six weeks.

Mike CatapanoSep 22 06:33p

The Kansas City Chiefs transferred DE Mike Catapano (undisclosed) from the Reserve/Non-Football Illness list to the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Sept. 22.

Eric DeckerSep 22 06:23p

New York Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring) said he felt good while working out before the game and expects to play in Week 3.

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