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Defensive line continues to produce

Posted Dec 15, 2012

The Cleveland Browns have gotten production in the sack department from the defensive line during their three-game winning streak.

Since the Cleveland Browns returned from their bye week on Nov. 11, the team has generated a physical pass rush against opposing quarterbacks and the defensive line has led the way in getting sacks.

Combined between games against the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, the Browns have registered 14 sacks on opposing quarterbacks, 11 by the defensive linemen.

“If you think about any defense, it probably doesn’t matter if it’s 3-4 or 4-3, everybody’s vision would always be the same,” Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said Thursday. “You’d like to be as good as you can possibly be, and as deep as you can possibly be. Up front, we’re getting close to being that.”

The Browns addressed the defensive line with the selections of tackle Phil Taylor and end Jabaal Sheard in the NFL Draft in 2011. This offseason, the Browns added ends Juqua Parker and Frostee Rucker through free agency, as well as John Hughes and Billy Winn in the draft.

“We’re significantly deeper than we were a year ago,” Jauron said. “I think we’re significantly better up front than we were a year ago. I think it’s a good thing for this organization. I think they are a pretty good group and a good group of guys. They work hard, they like each other and they prepare well.”

Adding the depth with the selections of Winn and Hughes proved critical in the early part of the season.

The Browns lost Taylor for the first eight games of the season due to a pectoral tear in an offseason workout. Then, in a 41-27 loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 7, the Browns had to finish the game without tackle Ahtyba Rubin, who suffered a calf injury. After the matchup with the Giants, Rubin missed three of the next four games.

In the absence of Taylor and Rubin, Winn started 10 games and Hughes two. Winn has 19 total tackles, one sack, an interception and two fumble recoveries, while Hughes enters Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins with 28 total tackles and three sacks.

“Their role has changed, of course, when you get Rubin and Taylor back, but they’re still showing up,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “I think a little bit of what I just talked about, they have a chance now to have fewer, but fresher and more explosive snaps. I think that’s what we’re getting.”

Although he has not started a game this season, Parker has been a major contributor to the Browns’ pass rush. Parker leads not only the defensive line, but the entire team with five sacks for 36 lost yards.

Parker registered a sack in three of the last four games and has 41.5 career sacks for 275.5 lost yards in 159 games for Tennessee, Philadelphia and the Browns.

“He’s really a good player, just always has been in his career,” Jauron said. “I was with him very briefly in Philadelphia and was very impressed by him there. He’s unusually strong and obviously quick and explosive off the ball. He’s another guy that likes to play the game and he’s got a nice feel for his opponent. He’ll study. He’ll look at the tape and get that feel. Once the game starts, I think he does a great job of adjusting to what he’s actually getting on the field. It’s been a really good pick up for us, both in the room with the other guys and on the field on Sundays.”

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