Browns go after 'tough, relentless' players

Posted Mar 14, 2013

The Browns’ front office has focused on toughness when signing players in free agency.

New Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and chief executive officer Joe Banner set a goal to have a tough, aggressive football team and have approached free agency with the same tenacity they expect to see from their players this season.

In the first three days of the new NFL year, the Browns have added four players: linebackers Paul Kruger (Baltimore) and Quentin Groves (Arizona), defensive lineman Desmond Bryant (Oakland), and tight end Gary Barnidge (Carolina).

“We really want to create a character of the type of people we want in the organization and the culture we are going to be, very hard-working, very determined, wanting to be the best they can be, and highly competitive people with a team-first approach to things,” Banner said Thursday during a news conference welcoming Bryant to Cleveland.

Besides the ones Banner listed, coach Rob Chudzinski mentioned other qualities he wants to see in those chosen to represent the Browns on the field.

“I would add to it, toughness, relentlessness, smart guys, guys that are passionate about playing football, guys that are passionate about being Cleveland Browns,” Chudzinski said. “You start with those things. The talent, the athleticism, the ability to play, good players that understand the game, that’s all what we want to be and embody what a Cleveland Brown is.”

Before the free-agency signing period on Tuesday, the Browns’ coaches and front-office staff formulated a plan for how they wanted to make the team better and what types of players they felt could fit that mold.

“A couple of the guys that were available really fit into some of the areas of key needs and stuff that we wanted to do,” Chudzinski said. “I’d say to this point, the plan is going according to schedule. We have a lot of work to do, so it’s not just a matter of guys coming in. We have a lot of areas we have to address and improve. The key is getting these guys in and working with them, and as coaches, helping them develop and giving them the tools to succeed.”

One of the areas the Browns addressed was the front seven of their new 3-4 defense headed up by coordinator Ray Horton.

Kruger had a career-high and Ravens-best nine sacks during the 2012 regular season and added another 4.5 sacks in the postseason, including two in a Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3.

Then, they agreed to terms with Bryant, who had been durable and productive in his previous four seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He missed just one of 64 career games, and in that time, registered 124 tackles and 11.5 sacks while playing multiple positions along the Raiders’ defensive line.

The Browns added Quentin Groves Wednesday. The five-year veteran spent 2012 with the Cardinals, where he played for Horton.

“I don’t think you could ever have enough quality defensive linemen,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll sort a lot of that out when we get out on the field. One of the things Desmond has been able to do and demonstrate is his flexibility. He’s played a lot of different positions up front, inside, outside. That versatility will give us some options. I see him, in our base package, being more of a defensive end. In sub, (he’ll have) the ability to move inside.”

Banner added, “Our purpose has been to get a really strong unit, have good depth so we can rotate, so that if we have any injuries, the line will still be one of the primary assets of the team. That’s what we feel like we are achieving.”

Recent Headlines