Senior Bowl

Browns coaches leave imprint on Senior Bowl-winning South players

MOBILE, Alabama -- The game was an exhibition, of course, and the rules were skewed a bit, but Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone felt like he and his teammates were prepared the right way to garner Saturday's winning result.

Specifically, Anzalone said, was how the team responded to sudden change. It was thrown a lot at the South's defense after the team's offense committed five turnovers throughout the game. The group rallied each time, repeatedly forcing punts or field goals and ultimately nullifying the North's go-ahead two-point conversion attempt with less than 2 minutes to play to leave victorious, 16-15.

"(Defensive coordinator Gregg) Williams got us ready and the whole defensive staff got us really ready for the game," Anzalone said. "He got us back in football shape and they pushed us to work hard and do all the little things right. Obviously, we had a good defensive performance. We bent but we didn't break. That's something they preached all week.

"A lot of things they preached during the week came into play in the game."

Cal quarterback Davis Webb -- who was named the game's most outstanding player after throwing for 165 yards and a touchdown and leading the South on three consecutive scoring drives -- credited the Browns coaches for "coaching us up like NFL coaches and pushing us to our limit."

Throughout the week, Browns coaches expressed their gratitude about the hands-on experience they received as coaches of the South team in the annual exhibition of the nation's top senior prospects. Instead of watching from the sidelines like scouts, coaches and front office executives from all of the other teams in the NFL, Cleveland's staff was able to work closely with the players both on the field and inside the meeting rooms during a week that offered minimal breaks.

The experience was so impactful for a coach such as Williams that he said he was comfortable enough to not have to watch anymore tape on the players he coached.

The feeling was mutual for Anzalone, a projected late-round prospect who soaked up the experience from start to finish.

"They emphasized it was a production-based business and if you don't produce, you've got to get out," Anzalone said. "They helped start to get that mentality in us and that's the advantage we have going to the Senior Bowl and dealing with NFL coaches now. A lot of guys don't realize that until rookie minicamp. We have the advantage now from being around these coaches."

Grambling wide receiver Chad Williams, a small-school star who made the most of his exposure at this week's practices, said the lessons he learned went beyond what happened on the practice field or at Saturday's game.

"They had a few jokes here and there, but they taught us things about life," Williams said. "I love all the coaches. I'm just so proud they gave me the opportunity to work with an NFL staff."

And as for all the time he spent with Cleveland's non-stop energy source, senior offensive assistant/wide receivers coach Al Saunders?

"In his heart, he's probably 25," Williams said of the 69-year-old Saunders. "A lot of wisdom there. He just shows you what life is all about."

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