Whitner's smarts will help the Browns
The new-look Cleveland Browns are only two days into minicamp practices, and Donte Whitner already can see significant progress.
"I believe we have a jump on a lot of teams in the National Football League," Whitner said. "They don't know exactly what offense or what defense we are going to run."
Whitner has coined a phrase on how the Browns are approaching opposing quarterbacks: Don't let them read your mail before you open it.
This defense, Whitner says, will pride itself on being in a disguise each week; almost chameleon like. The goal of this strategy is to play mind games with the quarterback.
"When you affect quarterbacks in the NFL, you affect offenses," said Whitner. "Showing a quarterback one thing, having enough guys out there to show different blitzes and different coverages. It's going to take a little work together, because you have to have 11 guys that are in tune with their own responsibilities but also know what the quarterback is looking for."
Although it's only April, the focus is real in Berea. Coach Mike Pettine is running the most up-tempo minicamp Whitner has ever seen in his nine years as an NFL player. Running backs finish out runs all the way to the end zone, sometimes 70-yard sprints. Defensive backs pick up dropped passes and do the same dash across the field.
Some teammates may not fully understand the increased attention on physical conditioning. Whitner does.
"In the fourth quarter when you are tired and you can't really think well, we will be one of the best teams then," said Whitner. "We will be well conditioned mentally and physically."
"We run to the football. We practice getting turnovers. We practice communicating. And that's a way a winning football team practices," said Whitner.
Terminology of Cleveland's multifaceted defense is the next biggest priority on the Browns offseason to-do list. Linebacker Karlos Dansby joked the Browns need to make sure they aren't speaking French on Sunday's. Whitner won't allow it.
"If you step on the football field and already know what to do, you already know what term to use once one guy motions, [we can] break a formation open," Whitner said. "That's the big thing."