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Notes from the Browns' defensive assistants after mandatory minicamp

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns' three-day mandatory minicamp finished on Thursday, and the team made six assistant coaches available to the media. Here are some positional notes we learned or gathered from their sessions; we'll start with the defensive coaches before addressing offense later today.


Defensive Line - Robert Nunn

  • NT Danny Shelton has been the subject of a few stories in minicamp, and Nunn spoke out about some of the strides he's tried to make:
    "The thing that Danny has bought into is he has gotten the weight off right now, and he’s in a very good place mentally, very good place physically. He’s a very good player. He can do so many more things at the weight he’s at right now and the condition he is in. He’s got to keep that, and time will tell. He’s the one that controls that. I can only help him so much. The strength coaches can only help him so much. Coach Jackson can only help him so much. He’s really in a good place right now. I see him being more than a first- and second-down player. Will he be in on every nickel package situation? No, but he will be in there against certain people. When we get in a situation where there are certain guards that struggle blocking certain guys like Danny, he will be in the package if he stays right where he is from a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint. The guy has a special talent. To be that big and to move as quick as he can, all he’s got to do is stick with the process and keep improving his hands, keep improving his pad level and keep improving his footwork. The sky is the limit for Danny."
  • Could Armonty Bryant be headed back to the defensive line this year? According to Dan Labbe of, "Nunn mentioned Bryant in his group, while OLB coach Ryan Slowik did not."

Inside Linebackers - Johnny Holland

  • Johnny Holland talked about everyone competing at inside linebackers. I am doing to quote what he said on each player below:

    Demario Davis: "He has done a terrific job for us coming in and trying to learn the system and has been a leader for us. He’s been working in the weight room and he’s a good worker on the field."

    Christian Kirksey: "He’s been very impressive athletically. He’s getting stronger and bigger. He shows a lot of athletic skill on the field that we really like. A lot of it will come down to how we play with the pads on. I’m looking forward to him having a great year."

    Justin Tuggle: "He has been a great addition for us. He has some size and speed. He’s a very sharp guy. A lot of it will come to when we put the pads on. There’s a lot of competition at the positions. We’re very pleased with Tuggle and his progression and learning our defense."

    Tank Carder: "He's been very consistent. He’s a dual player that can play both positions. He’s a smooth athlete and does exactly what we want him to do. I’ve been very impressed with Tank, as well."

    Scooby Wright III: "He’s playing the Buck linebacker for us. He’s done an excellent job of trying to learn our defense, working very hard. He’s going to have a bright future. Scooby plays with the effort that we like. He’s a very intense player and he had a lot of production in college, which we are looking to get some production from our inside linebackers.

    Dominique Alexander: "We are very pleased to have him. We like his athletic ability. He’s a smart kid and an instinctive player who can make plays."

  • As expected, it sounds like Demario Davis and Christian Kirksey are the favorites to start. The praise on everyone else is fairly generic, except for Wright, who already seems to have a defined role. Regarding the order in which Holland talked about each player, it seems like he went in order of tenure in the league. Holland also preached that this group is going to run hard to the ball and they are going to do a good job at stopping the run.

Outside Linebacker - Ryan Slowik

  • Slowik was asked about Barkevious Mingo and whether he'll be playing multiple spots in the front seven. "We hope to," said Slowik. "How much he moves around is up to him as far as how much he kind of embraces the defense and continues to grow in it. So far, that’s the plan to get him active in different ways and doing different things."

    It's interesting to hear how Slowik phrased that. Holland seemed more about overly praising each of his players (standard coach-speak), while Slowik didn't go out of his way to say something like, "Mingo is going to thrive in this defense and he's already done a tremendous job embracing it."

  • Slowik talked about the benefit that conditioning/skills development coach, and MMA expert, Joe Kim provides:
    "Any time you have more eyes, more hands on a player, the better. We only have limited access to them. Obviously, schematically, we’re a lot of the time just worried about getting them lined up, making sure they understand the call and understand their responsibilities. The fact that you can have somebody that is dedicated to that craft all the time is just really helpful. You can just see their hands moving, their feet, their hips staying active in the rush. It’s been great."
  • The impression I get is that outside linebacker is a wide open competition heading into training camp. Slowik did go out of his way to praise one veteran and one surprise, though, per Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository:

Secondary - Louie Cioffi

  • Safeties Jordan Poyer and Ibraheim Campbell both have some history with defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi. Poyer was with him as a rookie in 2013, and Cioffi says he coached Campbell at the senior bowl in 2015.
  • Cioffi says that CB Joe Haden was really excited to see him back. He's going to do everything he can to get him back to his Pro Bowl level. Even though Haden is rehabbing "like crazy," he's still very active in all of the meeting rooms.
  • The team is being true to the clean slate they are offering CB Justin Gilbert, but part of that slate still involves looking back to improve some of the technique issues he has. He's been good with improving far. "He’s been amenable to the techniques that we have asked him to play, and he’s been successful in that area," said Cioffi. "Hopefully, that will continue."