FAIRVIEW PARK — Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said last month he has big expectations when it comes to Danny Shelton, the hulking second-year defensive tackle and team's first-round draft pick last year.
Shelton on Tuesday accepted the challenge.
"Honestly, I feel like I can be that guy he needs," said Shelton, who hosted the American Dairy Association Mideast and Fuel Up to Play 60's Breakfast with the Browns at Gilles-Sweet Elementary School. "I can be the leader that needs to step up."
Shelton, who made 36 tackles for the Browns in his rookie season, said he's looking forward to working with Horton and the rest of first-year coach Hue Jackson's staff.
"I feel like just being coached under his staff — Horton's staff — and his system will make me a better player," Shelton said. "I have a lot of expectations, high expectations for this year and I'm just really looking forward to this year."
Horton said Shelton was the first player he met in person since returning to Cleveland following two seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
"Danny can be a unique player for us. He's really, really bright, intelligent, very outgoing. He wants to do well. He wants to succeed. He wants to be part of a championship defense. We are going to try to give him every opportunity to do that," Horton said.
"One of the things I don't want for Danny is I don't want him to always have to come off the field. I want him to be able to stay on the field as much as we want him on the field. He came in. I just talked to him. I met him. I said, 'I'm looking forward to working with you on April 4.' He is going to be a big part of our plans. Obviously, he was our No. 1 draft pick last year, and we want to utilize his talent."
Shelton, who now lives in the Cleveland area, has spent the offseason in Northeast Ohio. "It's been great, got to stick around. I found a gym in Parma, so I also get a chance to experience it out there. So I train over there, stay low-key really. I mean I'm able to do these community events because I'm here this offseason, so it's part of me growing as a player and as a figure for the community, somebody that the kids can look up to," Shelton said.
Shelton said he's excited for April 4, when the Browns players return to the team's headquarters in Berea for offseason workouts.
Of Jackson and the new coaching staff, Shelton said, "I think it's been a great couple weeks with them, right when they came in, right when Dee and Jimmy Haslam chose to pick them up, they went straight to work and got a great staff."
Shelton added: "I'm really appreciative of the Haslams to take the time to pick out these great coaches and figure out this game plan they're going to have for the draft and free agency. I'm just really excited to get in and work with them in April. I've been around the facility, I've been around the coaches and it's just a positive atmosphere, and I think that's what we need."