Buster Skrine is tweaking his game for improvements
One could argue Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine has the hardest job on the entire roster.
Opponents can all but guarantee on Joe Haden blanketing an entire side of the football field. Teams must concoct entire game plans factoring in Haden's Pro Bowl skill set, meaning Skrine routinely sees a slew of action on his side.
"They throw my way a lot," Skrine said. "But I take it on as a challenge."
Skrine weathered the firestorm in 2013, starting 15 of 16 games, defending 18 passes and recording an interception. A reserve corner and special teamer in his first two seasons with the Browns, the 24-year-old saw a whirlwind of developments from his first full season opposite Haden. Mainly, he showed the NFL his dynamic footwork, making it hard for receivers to find separation on deep routes.
Playing nearly every single snap, even through some bumpy periods, Skrine said, was enormous for him. Now the next step is becoming an essential piece to the Browns puzzle on defense. Skrine spent a heavy portion of the offseason evaluating himself on film.
"I know more what to expect now," said Skrine. "Route recognition, plays on certain downs. Mentally I'm more prepared now than ever."
A 5-foot-9 cornerback, Skrine's method is somewhat peculiar. No matter if he's guarding 6-foot-3 Alshon Jeffery, or 5-foot-9 Steve Smith, Skrine says he keeps the same exact technique.
"If you try and do things differently for certain receivers, you might actually end up switching the way you play," observed Skrine. "I look at it, that they have to get ready for me too."
Skrine knows that while he may be the incumbent starter, there will be plenty of competition nipping on his heels. He has improvements to make. Absorbing contact from press-coverage at the line, unlocking his hips and being more deceptive on intermediate routes top the list. He is embracing the more dog-eat-dog mentality head coach Mike Pettine has firmly installed in Berea.
"All I know is Mike Pettine wants to win football games," Skrine said. "And that's the whole attitude around here. Whatever it takes."