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Kruger stresses focus on fundamentals

Posted Apr 17, 2013

Browns linebacker Paul Kruger believes the little things make a big difference on the football field.

When Paul Kruger entered the NFL from the University of Utah, he quickly learned the importance of transferring knowledge from the classroom to the practice field and then, to game day.

Kruger learned those lessons from his teammates in Baltimore, and the outside linebacker wants to bring those experiences to the Browns, with whom he signed on the first day of free agency back in March.

“It sounds cliché, but it’s something where the basics are really important,” Kruger said. “That’s talked about everywhere in sports, but it’s talked about so much because it’s true. Just focusing on the fundamentals and letting these coaches get us right, I think we’ll be heading in the right direction.

“In Baltimore, we had a ton of veterans that had been around, and been successful for a long time, and that was big. To have that experience, and confidence, and leadership of those guys was a really big factor in the success that we had, but the coaches they’ve brought in and the vibe around here is just off the charts.”

Originally a defensive lineman coming out of Utah, Kruger learned the importance of versatility and played a key role as an outside linebacker in Baltimore’s march to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII over the San Francisco 49ers in February.

Kruger led the Ravens with nine sacks during the regular season, and had another four-and-a-half during the playoffs, including two-and-a-half against Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck in the Wildcard Round, and two more on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the Super Bowl.

Having made the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, Kruger is now helping to mentor Browns linebacker Jabaal Sheard through the change. As a defensive end, Sheard led the Browns in sacks in each of his first two NFL seasons.

“Sheard is just an athletic guy, so I think he’s going to be just fine,” Kruger said. “From what I saw, he didn’t skip a beat. He’s just taking everything we learned in the classroom and just applying it here on the field.

“We’ll see on the film, but it seems like everybody had a pretty good day. We didn’t have too many mental errors, so I think the coaches are putting us in a situation where it’s going to become easy to pick up on the defense.”

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