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5 things to know: Browns rookie DE Carl Nassib's 'tenacity' earns him starting job

This past summer, Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor and quarterback Josh McCown worked out in Charlotte, North Carolina, in an effort to master their respective crafts and build camaraderie heading into training camp.  

"It was awesome just being able to work with him before we even got here for camp," Pryor said. "We spent a good amount of time there."

Pryor, who met with reporters Thursday, spoke about McCown — who was named the team's starter after Robert Griffin III was placed on injured reserve this week — and said that time together might pay dividends. [



"What we like him about him and relate and love about Josh is that he's competitor, the ultimate competitor," Pryor said after practice.

"You can see it in his eyes, the way he talks in the huddle before he gives us a play. He wants to succeed. Today, there was about two or three periods where a ball didn't touch the ground, everything was completed and that's where he holds us, he holds us to that standard that we've got to play at a high level. We've got to hope to bring that in on Sunday."

Here are four more things to know.

'He's starting to really come along'

Browns coach Hue Jackson praised second-year nose tackle Danny Shelton, who played a big role in a Browns defense that held the Eagles to 3.9 yards a carry Sunday. "I thought there was some things he did really well and at times he had some knock backs on the offensive line," Jackson said.

"I think that was a huge improvement, just has to do it consistently, do it every game and I think he's trending in that direction."

Shelton, the 2015 first-round draft pick who lost 30-plus pounds this past offseason in an effort to become a more dynamic playmaker, said the outing served as something of a confidence boost, but there's room for improvement.

"This week's a new week," he said, "and I've got to be ready for the Ravens and a different type of running scheme."

Jackson wants more from run game

As the Browns prepare for the Ravens, trust they'll make running the football a priority against a defense that shut down the Bills last weekend.

Jackson said the run game "wasn't as good as I liked" and that he "thought the yards we made were at the end of the game when they were playing really soft."

"I didn't put any stock into what we did as far as running the ball there last week," Jackson continued. "We just have to keep working at it and keep getting better."

Jackson added there wasn't any one particular thing that held up the ground game.

"It's like anything. You run the ball on first down and you don't make but a yard or two and you run it again and you are still not making yards, it is always easy for the head coach to start throwing the ball," he said.

"Our guys understand that in order to be a good running team there is some of that, but at the same time, you can feel it on the field when your guys are starting to take over a game or push people and those type of things. We just have to do that better and we will."


Flipping the switch**

There is a switch, rookie defensive end Carl Nassib said, that he flips once he steps out on to the football field.

"I know any D-Lineman or defensive player has a switch that, you know, you can't be a crazy maniac amongst normal people," he said to a chorus of laughter. "I've always had (the switch). It's a fun game to play."

Indeed, Nassib's fiery style of play earned him a starting job on the Browns defense and praise from Jackson.

"We don't really give anybody nothing. You have to earn it, and he's playing well. He really is. He is doing some good things, and I think any player that plays the game the way we want them to play should be rewarded for that so he is," Jackson said Wednesday.

"He's one of the starters on our football team, and I always look forward to watching him play because he plays with a passion, energy and tenacity that I think you have to play this game with."

Nassib played down his rookie debut, which saw him record a sack, pass deflection and tackle for loss to Philadelphia.

"I didn't really have any expectations," he said.

"I had goals and standards to which I'm willing to hold myself to and that was just not worrying about what you guys think or what anybody else thinks, just working my hardest and competing."


Fixing the 'achilles heel'**

Jackson on Monday stressed the Browns must improve on third down, a dynamic he stressed during the preseason.

"The one thing that has been an Achilles' heel throughout the preseason has been our third down percentage, and it showed up again in our first game," he said.

"It's something that to me that has been an issue that I have to address because it's what is allowing our defense to stay out there quite a bit and allowing our offense not to stay on the field quite a bit."

The Browns converted just 2-of-10 attempts on third down in a loss to the Eagles this past weekend.

"We can't be 2-for-10 on third down. We have to get better," Jackson said. "That's when the quarterback and the receivers and the line have to be at their best, and we have not done that so that has been a problem. I have to, along with the offensive coaches, get that fixed."

Pryor echoed a similar sentiment, saying it takes rhythm in the pass game to help shore up the shortcoming.  

"We have to be on time. Throws have to be on time. Whatever you rhythm is, your throw has to be on time. From the quarterback standpoint, the receivers, we have to be at the right depth at the right time," he said, adding, "It's very important on third downs, obviously. That's how you get to the big plays by making the plays, keep sustaining drives. That's important."

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