Billy Winn took the ride off the practice field no one wants to experience.
On the first day in pads, Winn was rolled up during a blocking drill and promptly carted off the field. Speculation swirled about Winn's immediate future. Just how serious was it?
Just a couple of weeks later, though, Winn was back at his spot on the defensive line, ready to compete for his spot in a crowded and talented defensive line room.
The fourth-year pro out of Boise State will be doing just that when he takes the field Saturday against Tampa Bay. ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with him earlier this week
CB.com: How's it feel to be back?
Winn: It feels great. Just being able to get out there with my teammates and fly around and make plays, it feels awesome. I was able to get up to Rochester and practice a little bit. There's still a lot of work to get done and a lot of work to where I want to be.
CB.com: How scary were the initial moments after the injury?
Winn: It's scary for any athlete who gets their legs taken out. You get a guy that falls on your legs, it's definitely a scary moment. You can't let injuries affect your mindset. You have to stay with it and get back as fast as you can.
CB.com: How did you get back on the field so fast?
Winn: Just wearing the trainers out. Just going in and messing around in that training room and get work done. I work as hard in the training room as I do on the field. That was the No. 1 thing for me.
CB.com: You made a point to reshape your body during the offseason. What'd you do?
Winn: I just changed my diet and really focused on pulling some of the weight off me. I'd gained 10 pounds each year that I've been in the league. My goal was to drop 20 of those pounds I'd gained over the last two years. I came in at 335 and I was down to 315 by the time we started back up for camp.
CB.com: What have you found out since you've been back on the field?
Winn: I'm still trying to figure out where I belong. I kind of have a feel for what's going on and where they want me to play. Anything can change and anything can happen. I just have to go out there and put it on tape. Not only am I trying out for this team, I'm also trying out for 31 other teams. That's just how the NFL works and that's what you've got to do.
CB.com: How much has the D-line room changed since last year?
Winn: It's still a fun group in there. We've got a lot of guys in there that work their butt off. You've got veteran guys like Randy Starks and Desmond Bryant in there. Those guys are the leaders in that group and they keep guys straightforward and keep them focused. At the same time, we know how to have fun and know how to flip the switch when it's time to work hard.
CB.com: How much has improving the run defense been emphazied within the walls of the D-line room?
Winn: It's been a huge part. That was one of our biggest focuses this offseason was we needed to fix the run. We also wanted to fix our pass game. We wanted to be able to go out there and be relentless, but at the same time wanted to go out there and stop the run how we know we can.
CB.com: What have you focused on individually?
Winn: My No. 1 thing for me, myself, is just trying to stay healthy. I had an incident come up but other than that, I've been pretty healthy, made it through OTAs and all of that. My goal was to make it all the way through training camp but accidents happen, stuff happens, it's football, those things are going to pop up. My thing was just my body weight and injuries. Those are my two biggest focuses coming back. I knew the defense. The staff came back, we had the same defensive staff, so just being able to have those guys back. I knew that was going to be the easy part was going to be review.
CB.com: How important is this dress rehearsal type of game?
Winn: It's a road trip. It's a business trip. You've got to go and get over there and execute our stuff and put some stuff on tape. We went to Rochester, came back and played at home. That was still kind of like a business trip, so we're treating like a regular season away game.
CB.com: Does the defense feel ahead of where it was at this time last year?
Winn: I feel like we are ahead but there's still work to be done. We still have to go out there and there's a lot of stuff we have to get worked out in all areas: offense, defense and special teams. We're not exactly where we want to be, but we'll get there.
CB.com: Is this game the best indication of where a team stands entering the season?
Winn: It can be. But at the same time it can not be. You just have to go out there and look at it as the job's never done. You have to go out and understand it is a preseason game but you're always being evaluated.
CB.com: Have the rookies on the D-line hit the wall yet?
Winn: I think the guys have already hit it and they've ran through it. The rookies we have, they're so willing to learn and they're so on edge and ready to go at all times. With Xavier Cooper and Dylan Wynn and "fresh legs" Danny (Shelton) out there. We call him "fresh legs" because he's always bouncing around. They're always ready to go. Those guys have definitely surprised me. They've shown a side I didn't think they had. They come out and have given it 100 percent every single day.
CB.com: As a veteran mixing, how do you mix being a mentor with competiting for your spot?
Winn: It's all competition. The coaches, I have the confidence in them that they're going to pick the best guys they think deserve to be on the field. Some guys are going to make it, some aren't. It's a business. You've got to put stuff on tape that 31 other teams can look at.