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Young Linebackers Ready to Take Over

Before I start on today's news, I would like to mention how impressed I am with the new layout of Sports Blogs Nation. As you should know, Dawgs By Nature is one of over 100 extraordinary blogs in the network, and I am proud to be doing work for such a dedicated group of individuals. Above all though, we couldn't do anything without you, the fans, coming to sites like this every day for your sporting needs.

Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson is entering his second season with the Browns after a tough season last year. Despite missing three games, mostly due to a turf toe, Jackson was second on the team in tackles. In some cases, that would actually say something negative about a team's defense. In Jackson's case though, he simply took advantage of the starting opportunity he was given over veteran Chaun Thompson. With his turf toe healed and his health now at 100%, Jackson is looking forward to taking the next step in his career.

"Being a rookie by itself is a long process," said Jackson. "I'm glad that part's over with."

This season, it is a lock that Kamerion Wimbley, Andra Davis, and Jackson will open the season as three of the Browns' four starting linebackers. The other spot is still up for grabs somewhat. Although it would be expected that free-agent signing Antwan Peek would have a firm grip on the final spot (outside linebacker), veteran Willie McGinest isn't going to relinquish his spot without a fight. The Browns' depth isn't fantastic at the outside linebacker position after that, depending on Thompson and Matt Stewart. However, second-year man Leon Williams could be a force to be reckoned with as an inside linebacker. Still, until the team's unit actually starts to win some games, the group knows that they won't get the outside respect that they're seeking.

"We know what we can do," Jackson said, "but we've got to win some games to earn respect."

Browns Headline Roller

In FOX Sport's Power Rankings that were released, there should be no surprises for Browns fans. We're not used to getting much "respect" in these rankings, and Peter Schrager didn't feel like breaking that trend. Guess which team was ranked at the bottom of the league? Let's take a look:
32. Cleveland Browns - Sure, Cleveland picked up three first projected first-round picks in April's draft. And yes, they signed key contributors from the rival Bengals and Ravens in Eric Steinbach and Jamal Lewis. But they're not there yet. Keep in mind - as good as Quinn, Thomas, and Wright may be down the road - they're all still rookies. And in the case of Quinn, reports out of Cleveland still point to Charlie Frye as the opening day starter. LeCharles Bentley, their Pro Bowl center, has put off surgery - but still may not be ready to play at all this season either. The new Cleveland Browns have been the AFC North's resident doormat for most of the team's existence since 1999 (minus that magical year in 2002) - and I see no difference for 2007. 2010? Brady Quinn and Braylon Edwards may very well be telling cameras they're "Going to Disney World". In 2007? It's more likely a top-five pick in the upcoming draft. Alas, that pick goes to Dallas anyway. Ugh.
Everyone is continuing with the philosophy that "no matter how many additions the Browns make, they don't deserve credit until they finally prove that it results in something on the field." Unfortunately, I suppose I would have to agree with that, partially at least. For the record, the Baltimore Ravens were ranked seventh, the Cincinnati Bengals were ranked tenth, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were ranked sixteenth.