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Notes from the Browns’ defensive assistants after mandatory minicamp

Nuggets from defensive line coach Clyde Simmons, linebackers coach Blake Williams, defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker, and defensive backs coach Jerod Kruse.

On the final day of Cleveland Browns minicamp last Thursday, the team’s assistant coaches spoke individually with the media. This article will look at some notes from the defensive assistants.


Defensive line - Clyde Simmons

  • Simmons doesn’t think people give Emmanuel Ogbah enough credit for how much of a complete player he is, and he was just hitting his stride when he broke his foot last year. He’s excited about the pairing of Ogbah and Myles Garrett this year, and he says the two of them have a great relationship.
  • He’s currently dealing with an injury, but with rookie Chad Thomas, Simmons used the words “potential” and “growing” and the phrase “learning the game.” He thinks his game will step up over time.

Linebackers - Blake Williams

The other day, we heard Gregg Williams saying how he once wanted to draft Mychal Kendricks. Blake wanted him badly, and now he’s very excited to have him in Cleveland. Why?

“I spent a ton of time with him when he was coming out through that process. Have always kind of kept up with him a little bit. Followed his career, watched his career. Very excited about that. I think that our linebackers, especially our veteran linebackers in the room, are excited about what he could potentially bring to not just the room but the defense. Culturally, kind of like Jamie (Collins Sr.) a couple of years ago, a guy who had just gotten off of a Super Bowl championship, has won in this league, has played in multiple other systems under multiple different people and has had success in this league, being able to bring how to do that to a relatively young roster that has not maybe done that at this level.”

  • What position will Kendricks play? “Sort of the WILL,” said Blake. That will be his home position, playing in the group that consists of Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins. I get the impression that Joe Schobert would still be the everydown middle linebacker.

Defensive backs - DeWayne Walker

  • Asked about Ward getting some first team reps lately, it sounds like he’ll be a Day 1 starter because they have confidence in him as a press corner, but wanted to expose him to as much off coverage plays as possible to get him savvy with that too.
  • How good is it that the cornerbacks compete against such a good group of receivers?

“It is awesome. I try to make sure that their targets are talked about in terms of how many wins and how many losses we are getting with our receivers. Being able to compete against a pretty good receiver group is going to help us.”

Defensive backs - Jerod Kruse

  • Kruse works with the safeties, so he was asked right away about Jabrill Peppers role this year. Peppers is a “team guy” and did what they asked of him last year, but he’s been closer to the ball a lot more during the offseason programs this year. They know that is where he’s been most comfortable throughout his career. He believes Peppers can use the knowledge he gained from last year to have an idea what the free safety is doing when he’s in the box.
  • Asked about Damarious Randall’s transition to safety, Kruse stressed that he was a safety his whole life prior to Green Bay, and they feel he is more comfortable at safety.

“Our front office guys did a great job in seeing that dynamic and getting him here and giving us a chance to work with him. He is a highly confident guy. I think that going out there and having played corner and in this league at a high level, he understands more things about route splits and spacing and what offenses are doing to try to attack you from a wide receiver standpoint and a coverage standpoint. I think that just blends to his ability to be even better at the free safety position. As we all know, he can run. He can cover space. He is smooth as an athlete. He has good instincts. I think one year in junior college, if I remember correctly, he had 10 interceptions. He has high ball production in his past playing at that positon. I think as we go forward here, and he continues to get comfortable again at that position, those things are open to find.”