After a switch from the right defensive end spot to left end,
A second-round pick of the Browns out of the University of Pittsburgh, Sheard registered 8.5 sacks for 73.5 lost yards in his first NFL season. Like his fellow first-year Browns defensive lineman, Phil Taylor, Sheard earned All-Rookie Team selection from Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America.
Throughout this year’s training camp, Browns coach Pat Shurmur has seen progress from his second-year end.
“This year, he’s kind of getting honed in,” Shurmur said. “I see him on my right, but I know he’s on the left. He’s getting honed in on that side earlier. Anything you do more than once, there should be a big jump between one and two. I think, this year, he will make improvement.”
The Browns got a lot of production from Sheard, but right defensive end proved more difficult in 2011. The team had some injuries at right end and made the commitment to increasing the production of the line in the offseason.
The Browns added veteran ends
“There’s always ways that you can take care of one defensive end,” Shurmur said of Sheard, “and that’s why it’s important that we get some production in pass rush out of the other guy, whether it be Frostee, Parker, (Emmanuel) Stephens or whoever it might be. I think the big thing for him is to just play his game and then everyone else fit in and play their game and it will all balance out.”
While Rucker and Parker have manned one side of the defensive line, Sheard has spent his training camp competing against rookie right tackle,
Shurmur sees the everyday battles between Sheard and Schwartz benefitting both players and improving the team as a whole.
“I think the battles have been good,” Shurmur said. “You’ll find that Jabaal will get him once in a while. What I’m seeing though is, you’re seeing Mitchell kind of adjust his sets and get a little bit better with his hands each day. Going against one another helps both of them. At this point in camp, of course everybody’s a little dead-legged, so you don’t see that zip that we’ll get back in their legs when it gets to be game time. The competition is good and I think they are both handling it very well.”