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Chudzinski: 'Critical' for leaders to emerge

Posted Jul 25, 2013

BEREA, Ohio -- Coach Rob Chudzinski will look to D'Qwell Jackson and Joe Thomas to be leaders for the team.

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski recognizes that accomplished veterans such as linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas must do more than perform well on the field.

They also must provide strong leadership.

“It’s critical that you have guys in the locker room that steer a team from their standpoint,” Chudzinski said. “It can’t just be done by the coaches. D’Qwell and Joe, guys who have been here, have been through it, they understand what it takes to be a pro. They understand what it takes to prepare and put ourselves in the best position to win.

“Those guys are critical, and you know what they can do on the field because I’ve been here and seen them do it in person. They’ve proven themselves in that way, and we really need them to step up as leaders this year.”

Chudzinski was the Browns’ offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2008, and was around during Thomas’ rookie season. At the same time the Browns were breaking in Thomas at left tackle, Jackson was settling into his second season in Cleveland.

“They’ve grown as players (since) I was here with Joe being a young guy, D’Qwell being a young guy,” Chudzinski said. “Those guys are guys now that step up and talk to guys, say things and show the leadership that you’d want.”

Besides Thomas and Jackson, Chudzinski is looking for second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden to emerge as a leader.

Inserted into the starting lineup from Day One in 2012, Weeden threw for 3,385 yards and 14 touchdowns, setting several Browns rookie records along the way. Now, his head coach is looking for him to build upon that first year and take more command of the Browns’ offense.

“That’s what you hope for,” Chudzinski said. “Certainly, guys coming into the league in their first year typically are just trying to figure things out. Hopefully, as they’ve played and gained experience, they have made that grown in terms of being a leader and taking charge. Certainly, that position is one that’s critical.

“I’ve seen a big improvement in Brandon in those things, in those ways. At the end of the day, it’s important, that from a quarterback standpoint, you’re playing, that you understand and know what to do, that you’re being productive and on top of that, being that leader that takes charge.”

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