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Jadeveon Clowney says Browns D 'having a good time' as group continues to jell

Clowney’s veteran vibes have helped blend high competition into a loose environment during minicamp

Jadeveon Clowney laid his final punch on the orange inflatable quarterback dummy during his defensive line drill, jogged back to the huddle of teammates and laughed along with them.

The competition among the big men from the interior was high, but the environment was loose — just how Clowney, the three-time Pro Bowler who signed with the Browns as a free agent over the offseason, prefers his practices.

"I like to have fun no matter what team I go to or where I go," he said Wednesday in a video call with local reporters.  "I'm an excited guy. I like to have fun. I know it's a job, but I try to say it's football first."

Clowney fit right in with his new teammates on the first two days of minicamp practices in Berea, and the Browns believe he'll fit right in with everything else they have planned for their defense in 2021.

"He does enjoy people, being around people, joking around — he loves this game," Stefanski said. "You watch how he plays and throws his body around, and you know he loves this game. It doesn't surprise me seeing him around his teammates, and they obviously welcomed him into this family. I think he's excited to be a part of it."

Check out exclusive photos of minicamp

Cleveland has built one of the most intriguing defensive lines in football. With Clowney, Myles Garrett, Takkarist McKinley and a vast combination of guys possibly playing defensive tackle, the Browns figure to have four players who can sack the quarterback on any play.

The combinations — which could include any of the defensive ends playing in the interior, too — will give opposing offensive coordinators a difficult week of preparation and supply the Browns with a defense that could stack up well against Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers and the long list of other talented quarterbacks Cleveland is set to face this season.

Clowney said he won't know the full extent of his role until training camp, when all defensive ends on the roster will receive a full evaluation. He believes, however, that the Browns' D-Line rotation could be loaded with talent, which means he'll have time to rest during games and ensure he has enough gas in the fourth-quarter to make game-changing plays.

"When they put the highlight tape on the other day, I was like 'Oh, these guys are making a lot of plays across the league,'" he said. "For them to be on the team with me, I'm very excited about the rotation of the group that can rotate and guys can get in. The backups can come in and play just as good as the ones, and that's even better. Anytime you have that going on, you have a good group."

It's a safe bet that the two drivers of the group will be Clowney and Garrett, who have combined for 74.5 career sacks. Both have proved their wide array of pass rush moves at the line of scrimmage work, and their pairing is perhaps the biggest reason why many believe the Browns defense could be among the best in the NFL this season.

"I haven't run into too many guys like (Garrett) in the National Football League yet," Clowney said. "Took me eight years to get here and find another one like that on defense. It's great. I just know he is going to go out there and do his thing. I know he's going to ball and is going to do his thing, so I'm excited about that."

As the defense grows and identifies ways to maximize the new pieces to the big men up front, Clowney will continue to soak in every second with his new home. When the regular season begins, the best way for him to do that will come by sacking the quarterback and making the same game-changing plays he's made over his seven-year career.

But it can also be done through keeping things loose and competitive in practice. That's all Clowney can do until Week 1, and he doesn't plan on changing anytime soon.

"This is a good team, and this group of guys enjoy themselves," he said. "They're having a good time. They're fun to be around. Everybody is flying around. Everybody is smiling."