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Browns rookie Danny Shelton increasing his own expectations

Danny Shelton has heard the praise from his head coach, defensive coordinator, position coach and teammates.

The rookie defensive lineman appreciates it all and loves how much of a role he's absorbed in his first NFL season. He just isn't satisfied with what he's accomplished.

"It's not anywhere close to what I've been expecting out of myself. I want to produce more," Shelton said. "Part of that is part of the game, and sometimes you don't get what you want, you don't make the plays you want, but your teammates make those plays. That's what I'm learning and that's what I'm working with."

Shelton leads all Browns defensive linemen with 11 tackles. He's been one of the main reasons why opposing teams aren't running the ball up the middle against Cleveland's defense as much as they did last year, as he often takes on multiple blockers and opens up opportunities for the inside linebackers behind him.

"Man, it's fun. It's fun," veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "I'm looking forward to playing behind him some more. Just being able to play off him. He plays off me."

In two of his first three games, Shelton squared off against some of the NFL's best centers. Week 1 pitted him against six-time Pro Bowler Nick Mangold of the New York Jets. Last week, Shelton squared off against one of the NFL's highest paid centers, Oakland's Rodney Hudson.

It's allowed Shelton to size himself up and understand where he's at in his development. Afterward, he reviews footage of not only how he played against them, but how others around the league fared against those centers.

"Every day I go against a center is a guy who has been in the league more than me. It's just exciting to be able to go against guys who made it to the Pro Bowl and kind of just wild," Shelton said. "You don't really expect that. You don't really expect to play against a guy who some people call the best. You don't really know it until you get to the game and play against them and realize why they're called the best or why they made the Pro Bowl."

The Browns are last in the NFL in run defense after three weeks, and Shelton is as frustrated about it as anyone on the roster. Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil reiterated Thursday he's seen some improvements in the run defense that haven't correlated to improved statistics. The busts on the long runs opponents have managed against the Browns have overshadowed them.

Asked if Shelton is drawing the number of double-teams he expected, O'Neil was emphatic in his support for the rookie nose tackle. The edge, not the middle, is where Cleveland is getting beat.

"We're not getting hit in the middle, guys," O'Neil said. "Those big runs aren't coming through the A gap."

Shelton made a name for himself as a senior at Washington when he finished with 16.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He's anxiously waiting to put numbers in those columns as a Brown but understands the opportunities will come.

"It's just more advanced. It's more difficult with the opponent you're going against," Shelton said. "Playing against more experienced guys, guys who are technically sound and perfect at what they do. It pushes you to go over the expectations."

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