Haden finds comfort level within defense

Posted May 27, 2013

Cleveland Browns defensive back Joe Haden has found a comfort level within Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense.

After seven weeks of offseason work and six sessions of organized team activity practices, Cleveland Browns defensive back Joe Haden is finding a comfort level within defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 scheme.

And according to the fourth-year cornerback, he’s not alone.

“Everybody’s getting really comfortable,” Haden said. “Me, (safety) T.J. (Ward), (inside linebacker) D’Qwell (Jackson), everybody’s just knowing the system, and we’re way more comfortable making checks a lot easier, making earlier checks before we see things happen and it’s flowing. It’s flowing really well for us right now.

“Everybody just needs to keep grinding, keep going, just get the base of the team’s concept going, the base of the defense, the base of the offense, get that installed because when we get the pads on, it’s going to be moving a whole lot faster. People are going to be hitting you then, so you’ve just got to know what you’re doing before you start getting hit.”

Haden tied for the team lead with three interceptions in 2012, despite missing four games due to a league-mandated suspension and another from an injury that prevented him from playing when the Browns travelled to Dallas for an inter-conference game against the Cowboys.

In three years with the Browns, Haden has collected nine interceptions, forced three fumbles and recovered another, and he plans on passing on the knowledge he has gained through those experiences to the younger defensive backs.

“I’m just telling them little tips,” Haden said. “They know the defenses, but I’m just telling them what to look for in the defense like: ‘This is where you can make your plays. This is where coach wants you to line up,’ and just giving them little hints of what I do when I’m out there. I can tell it’s helping them a whole lot.”

Third-round draft pick Leon McFadden is one of those players Haden is imparting that knowledge to on and off the practice field.

“I like the kid,” Haden said. “This is my first (time) with him out there, and he seems like a smart kid. He’s adapted, and he’s been studying his book. I can obviously tell that because he didn’t make too many mental mistakes, and I hope to see more of him, Buster (Skrine), Chris (Owens) out there. Our secondary’s looking pretty good. I just want to see him keep growing and grasping the system.”

Part of grasping the system for Haden came with the realization that “you’re out there; you have to cover.”

“You have to hold your own, and with his defense, they get a lot of pressure on the quarterback, so sometimes, he’s not going to hold the ball that long,” Haden said. “There’s going to be a lot of opportunities for picks for us.

“I’m going to travel against the No. 1 receiver, and then, when they get a little bit of pressure on the quarterback, make him throw off his back leg, it helps us out so much as cornerbacks. When quarterbacks throw it on the money, just getting pressure in his face is definitely going to help us out a whole lot on the back end.”

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