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Cleveland Browns’ defensive depth chart causes buzz

Posted Aug 6, 2014

Jabaal Sheard, Phil Taylor listed as backups.

Jabaal Sheard

The biggest buzz generated by Tuesday’s release of the Cleveland Browns’ depth chart was that outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard and defensive lineman Phil Taylor were listed as backups.

Sheard and Taylor not only had been starters the past three seasons, but also appeared to be performing well enough through the offseason and (in Sheard’s case) most practices since training-camp workouts began on July 26 to maintain first-team status. Taylor missed the first seven practices of camp with a hamstring injury before returning to action on Monday.

Nevertheless, the roster is being seen by a different set of coaching of eyes than those belonging to the men who previously determined Sheard’s and Taylor’s football fate. And head coach Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil apparently believe that Barkevious Mingo, who was a reserve as a rookie last year, is deserving of a promotion, which pushed Sheard to a reserve role. Pettine and O’Neil also apparently think that Billy Winn, who had been a backup, merited moving ahead of Taylor, who also is listed as an end after previously being listed as a tackle.

Sheard put the best face on the situation when talking with reporters.

“No, I look at it as a backup No. 1, not really a No. 2,” he said. “I’m a backup No. 1, so if anybody goes down then I’m the next man in.

“I’m ready to go when they need me. I’m out there. You only can control so much. I control what I can do. I just go out there and play, and hopefully, make some plays.”

Mingo, who is starting at outside linebacker with incumbent Paul Kruger, has seemingly made big strides since last year. He appears thicker and stronger in his upper body, while maintaining exceptional athleticism.

Winn, who returned from an injury that sidelined him through the first week of camp, has been extremely active and aggressive, but he also has added size and strength.

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE NFL …

WITH DALLAS COWBOYS QUARTERBACK TONY ROMO expected to be sidelined for Thursday night’s preseason-opener against the San Diego Chargers, former Brown Brandon Weeden is expected to start for the Cowboys and possibly play as much as a half. And that’s exactly what Cowboys coach Jason Garrett thinks Weeden needs. “He just needs to play,” Garrett was quoted as saying in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “If you know his biography, his time he spent in baseball, a two-year stint at Oklahoma State and playing in a couple of different systems in Cleveland. He just needs to takes snaps. He has a lot of natural ability. You can see that. He is really good throwing the football. He can throw any kind of ball you want him to throw. He just needs to take snaps, and to see him grow when he gets an opportunity to take snaps, make mistakes, make plays and learn from it all.”

YOU WANT FRUSTRATION? Try being a cornerback who has to face Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in practice every day. “It can be frustrating because you can be in great coverage and he’ll still stick it in there where only the receiver can get it,” Bradley Roby was quoted as saying on the Broncos’ official website. “But it only helps because in the season, those guys aren’t going to put it on there like he does. He’s a Hall of Famer, one of the greats of all time. So going against him, making plays against him is giving me more confidence to go against other guys.”

ALTHOUGH GENO SMITH will start for the New York Jets in Thursday night’s preseason-opener against the Indianapolis Colts, Michael Vick is expected to get at least one series with the starters in the second quarter, according to ESPNNewYork.com. Vick has received little work with the starters during training camp.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com. We take your questions at 216-578-0850 and via Twitter @Browns_Daily.