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Determined Skrine makes big strides

Posted Nov 14, 2013

Through hard work and film study, Cleveland Browns defensive back Buster Skrine has become an important part of the secondary.

What a difference an offseason makes.

Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine was one of the most penalized defensive players in the NFL during the 2012 regular season, but has since developed into one of the team’s most important players in the secondary.

Instead of listening to the criticism and letting it eat at him, Skrine focused on improving his skills and now leads the Browns with 17 passes defended.

“For me, I’m just trying to improve every week, just keep making plays and do the best for my team,” Skrine said. “I feel like there’s a difference between last year and this year.

“I’m just recognizing routes, personnel and stuff like that. My coaches are helping me a lot with my ball skills, cutting down on the PIs, and I’ve been able to make a lot of plays.”

Skrine also credits the Browns’ defensive front seven for the successes the secondary has experienced through nine games this year. The Browns have registered 31 sacks for 152 lost yards after collecting 38 for 233 lost yards all of last season.

“In the back end, we’re always saying, ‘Let’s hold up our guys. Let’s hold up our guys’ because we know our front seven is going to get there. We just try to do our best in the coverages that we’re in to hold our guys and keep them covered so our front seven can get sacks.”

While Skrine believes his success is related to off-the-field work as well as his teammates’ ability to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks, his head coach, Rob Chudzinski, attributes the development and change in production to confidence and trust in his own skills.

“I think it’s his confidence in his own abilities,” Chudzinski said of Skrine. “You look at a guy who has a lot of ability. He can move. He can run. He can do all of the things that you want from a corner in this league, but trusting himself, trusting his technique and playing that way, I think, are the biggest improvements, and those come from playing more and more.

“We’ve evolved defensively as the season’s gone on and as guys have gotten more comfortable in understanding what to do. I think Buster’s development, and the whole secondary have done a great job. It allows us to do more things as guys improve.”

Skrine’s teammates also believe that along with confidence in his abilities, he has become more patient on the backend of the Browns’ defense.

“He’s always had the speed, always had the technique,” defensive back Joe Haden said. “(With) his patience and his ball skills, when the ball’s in the air, he’s really calm, cool, just chilling and making a play, and that’s the biggest thing. This year, he’s been really patient. He’s playing like he’s really confident in his abilities.

“(Skrine’s and Tashaun Gipson’s) improvement (are) the main reasons why the defense is the way it is right now. They’ve been doing a great job ever since OTAs. Since the beginning, everybody noticed it, and they’ve been nothing but getting better. They’ve been nothing but helping our defense get where it needs to be.”

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