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Ibraheim Campbell never doubted he could compete for starting role

Ibraheim Campbell entered his first NFL offseason with minimal, on-field experience at strong safety, but his confidence never wavered.

No matter what happened with the makeup of Cleveland's roster, Campbell vowed to compete for a starting role.

"I knew that I would be prepared for anything," Campbell said before Tuesday's practice. "My intentions coming into this year, regardless of what happened in the offseason, was to come in and to compete for a starting job. That's what I'm doing and I got a great opportunity to kind of fight for that when I got here."

The path cleared a bit when veteran Donte Whitner was released but Campbell's performance over the past few months has left little doubt he'll hold a significant role on the Browns 2016 defense.

"He's a very diligent player," Browns secondary coach Louie Cioffi said. "He studies hard. He's been great in the offseason. I think he'll bring a physical nature to the position, and he's a player that can adjust and play in space as well."

Campbell was counted upon in a variety of ways on special teams last season but his opportunities at strong safety were sparse, as Jordan Poyer was often first off the bench whenever starters Tashaun Gipson and Whitner were sidelined with injuries. He received by far his most snaps at the position when he started the first game of his career in a November contest at Cincinnati. He finished with five tackles.

When the opportunity arrived in early May to do so much more, Campbell ran with it.

"I made sure that I kind of did everything that I could in preparation for that opportunity," Campbell said. "I've just been working every day to make sure that I took full advantage of it and was ready to go."

Take a look inside the ninth day of Browns Training Camp.

A former fourth-round pick out of Northwestern, Campbell, who considers his versatility to be his top strength, has been teamed with Poyer at safety since the beginning of OTAs. Both are familiar faces from last year's roster but each has been tasked to take on much more responsibility in 2016.

The new-look, last line of defense for the Browns has spent the past months growing closer together.

"Any team, you need to kind of know what to be able to expect from your teammates," Campbell said. "That's something we really harp on. We've been really focusing on building each other up as a team and on and off the field and I think it's really starting to show."

The first opportunity comes Friday at Green Bay, giving Campbell his first on-field repetitions at strong safety against someone other than his teammates since that start in Cincinnati.

They won't be taken for granted.

"No matter how much film you watch those type of things, there's no substitute for experiences, so I'm cherishing every opportunity that I have on the field, every rep that I get in practice whether it be individual drills, whether it be team drills, 7-on-7," Campbell said. "I'm always trying to make sure that I'm making the most of those reps to be productive on the field."

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