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How Danny Shelton can 'change the way' the Browns play defense

The lean-and-mean edition of Danny Shelton has drawn positive reviews as the Browns break for the summer following the conclusion of offseason workouts last week.

Shelton, the bruising, fun-loving nose guard and 2015 first-round draft pick, said Tuesday he's lost 30 pounds since the end of last season, a process he spoke about last month during OTAs.  

But now, as Cleveland's coaches and players take some time to rest and relax before the grind of training camp begins in late July, Shelton's slimmer frame could pay dividends as the Browns install a new-look 3-4 defense under Ray Horton.

"I've told him this, that he's a different player when he's got that weight off of him. He's just a different guy that can do a lot more things and he's got to stay on top of it, which right now I think he is but time will tell if he continues with that," defensive line coach Robert Nunn said Thursday.

"He's a totally different guy. He can change the way we play defense at the weight he's at and being able to move."

For the Browns — who have said they want to be a "suffocating" defense built on fundamental principles like stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback — a quicker, more agile Shelton is both an intriguing and exciting dynamic.

"Playing at this weight will be better for me as far as being on the field more, getting more playing time, and for my lifestyle. It will be better on my knees and for my health, really," Shelton said last week.

"Honestly, just working with (director of high performance) Adam (Beard) and (strength and conditioning coordinator) Coach Evan (Marcus). Those two were my guys, my secret weapon to losing all this weight. I did do some MMA training in Parma, but overall, Coach Adam and Coach Evan were the guys who helped me finish and get me to my goal." 

After a rookie season of ups and downs, Shelton said "everybody has a fresh start" under head coach Hue Jackson and the new coaching staff. And the former University of Washington star took it upon himself in January to make a change.

"I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and to start the change around the team with myself," he said. "When I was able to do that and to change my weight, drop the weight, it was more of me being accountable and me being able to sacrifice for the team and work for the betterment of the team."

Nunn echoed a similar sentiment.

"The thing that Danny has bought into is he has gotten the weight off right now, and he's in a very good place mentally, very good place physically. He's a very good player. He can do so many more things at the weight he's at right now and the condition he is in," Nunn said, adding the onus is on Shelton to stay lean over the summer.

"He's got to keep that, and time will tell. He's the one that controls that. I can only help him so much. The strength coaches can only help him so much. Coach Jackson can only help him so much," he said.

"He's really in a good place right now. I see him being more than a first- and second-down player. Will he be in on every nickel package situation? No, but he will be in there against certain people. When we get in a situation where there are certain guards that struggle blocking certain guys like Danny, he will be in the package if he stays right where he is from a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint.

"The guy has a special talent. To be that big and to move as quick as he can, all he's got to do is stick with the process and keep improving his hands, keep improving his pad level and keep improving his footwork. The sky's the limit for Danny."

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