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Chasing a Dream: Tracy Howard eager to make most of opportunity with Browns

Yes, the weather in Cleveland is different from that in Miami, Florida. 

Former Miami Hurricanes cornerback Tracy Howard learned of that departure in April during the Browns' rookie minicamp in which the team's practice at FirstEnergy Stadium was met with howling winds, 40 degrees temperatures and drizzling rain. 

"You've got that tricky weather: some days it's sunny, some days it's raining, you can get snow out of nowhere," the South Florida native said last month. 

"But I like it, it's a very chill place. The people love you, the people are very genuine and things like that. I love that part of Cleveland." 

And Howard, who joined the Browns as an undrafted free agent this past spring, said he's making the most of his opportunity in Cleveland. 

"It was almost like going to college because you have to choose out of the team that you wanted to go," Howard said when asked of the thought process of choosing to sign with the Browns.

"And I chose the Browns because they showed me a lot of interest throughout the draft process and things like that, I talked to them during draft day, I came up here on a team visit during the draft process  so the Browns were definitely one of the teams that I always had interest in." 

Perhaps most of all, Howard — the former five-star recruit and top-ranked cornerback coming out of high school in 2012 who went on to play a key role on the Miami defense — said he thinks he can have an impact in defensive coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 defense. He's not taking anything for granted. 

"I'm here, I've got this opportunity. I don't feel like I'm supposed to be here or anything like that.  I know it's a privilege, an honor and a blessing," Howard said. "I'm just happy to be here and ready to work. When my time comes, my time comes. I'm just being patient and I'll be ready for my opportunity when it comes." 

Indeed, Howard is part of a large and diverse defensive backs room that includes veterans like Pro Bowl cornerbacks in Tramon Williams and Joe Haden among other seasoned players and newcomers.

And with the help of the coaching staff and his teammates, the 22-year-old is trying to soak up as much information as he can.

 "It's been a great transition (from college), it's been very smooth due to the coaches and the veteran guys and the guys I came in with," he said. 

"Everybody helps one another, the veteran guys — like Tramon Williams, he took me up under his wing and showed me a lot, guiding me through everything and the coaches do a very good job of teaching things and doing a very great job of that. 

"Everything's been great, I'm picking up on things very well and I'm mainly having fun with it. It hasn't been easy and practice is uptempo a lot because that's how coach Hue (Jackson) likes it, but it's been fun and I've been enjoying it but I think I've got a long ways to go." 

In less than three weeks, Howard will find himself competing for a roster spot once the Browns reconvene for training camp July 29. And in the meantime, he said he's going to bury his head in the playbook.  

"You want to be able to take the baby steps," he said, "before you take the huge steps."

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