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Cleveland Browns boast exceptional depth on their defensive line

Posted Aug 13, 2014

Phil Taylor, Armonty Bryant, and John Hughes are an impressive trio of ends.

John Hughes, Armonty Bryant, Phil Taylor

The depth chart of the Cleveland Browns’ defensive line is something to behold.

You begin with three impressive starters: Desmond Bryant at left end, Ahtyba Rubin at nose tackle, and Billy Winn at right end.

It’s fair to say that all three could start for pretty much any other team in the NFL.

But it gets even better.

Just consider the backups at end: Phil Taylor, Armonty Bryant, and John Hughes.

Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and Jacobbi McDaniel are pretty solid reserves at nose tackle, but what might be the most impressive part of the entire Browns team (this side of Josh Gordon and Joe Haden) is the trio of Armonty Bryant, Taylor, and Hughes.

It could easily be argued that, like the men they back up, the three would find starting opportunities on most other teams in the league.

Taylor had been a starter for the past three seasons, albeit at tackle. He has transitioned well to end in the Browns’ new defensive scheme because it takes advantage of his impressive combination of size, strength, and athleticism.

Armonty Bryant has been one of the most dominant players, at any position, through training camp. He routinely ends up in the backfield on pass plays, ready to make the sack that he isn’t allowed to make in practice. He shows tremendous quickness off the ball, incredible instincts, and better run-stopping skills than he demonstrated as a rookie last year.

Bryant took his practice-field dominance into last Saturday night’s preseason-opener at Detroit, and performed well enough to prompt discussion that he should, in fact, receive serious consideration for a starting role.

Hughes did the same. He was credited with four tackles, and consistently found himself in the mix of pass-rush pressure and run-stopping. Like Bryant, he has been a strong presence on the practice field.

“You look at his grade sheet and they’re all filled with pluses,” coach Mike Pettine said of Hughes. “So all he does is his job and he makes some plays. He’s a guy that, I think, is tough to block.

“I think (defensive line coach Anthony) Weaver’s done a great job with him to get him to understand the technique and how to release off of blocks and technically, he’s one of our better guys up front.”

And, remember, he’s a backup.

>>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.

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