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Minicamp Notebook: Dalvin Tomlinson believes new-look defensive line is 'going to be amazing'

With a talented group of position teammates and a defensive coordinator who keeps things simple and aggressive, Tomlinson doesn’t need to see the Browns defensive line in pads to visualize how destructive it can be


Dalvin Tomlinson doesn't need to see his new defensive line teammates in pads to guess how dominant they'll be this season.

When he looks to his right, he'll see an All-Pro player in Myles Garrett. To his left so far in mandatory minicamp has been Za'Darius Smith, his former teammate in Minnesota and a three-time Pro Bowler. To Smith's left has been Ogbo Okoronkwo, the first player the Browns signed in free agency who's looking to build on a breakout season.

"I already know what Za'Darius can do on the inside," Tomlinson said, "and just watching Ogbo and Myles on film and playing against them over the years and with all of us together and bringing our skill sets together, I feel like it's going to … "

Tomlinson stopped, smiled and shook his head.

"I don't know how to put it into words. It's going to be amazing."

There's a long list of reasons to believe him.

Not only have the Browns replenished the defensive line with veterans such as Smith and Tomlinson, a six-year veteran who signed with the Browns in free agency in March, but they've paired them all with new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, a D-Line mastermind.

The talk all offseason since Schwartz was hired has been about improving in the trenches, and Tomlinson believes the Browns are poised to do it because of how simple, yet effective Schwartz's system is geared for them. Under Schwartz, defensive linemen will focus more on swarming whoever has the football rather than controlling certain gaps and working in limited space to penetrate the pocket.

"Attack" is the word that's often been used to describe their duties, and to Tomlinson, it really does feel as simple as that.

"I don't think I've ever been a part of a defense this simplified, especially in the NFL," he said. "For multiple defenses, it'd be a 3-4 (scheme) or a 4-3, but it's a multiple defense and it depends on who you're going to play.

"This one is straightforward — it's just line up and go play football."

Check out the action from practice at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus as the Browns go through Veteran Minicamp

Tomlinson knows the philosophy appeals to everyone in his position group.

He especially knows that for Smith, who was his teammate last season with the Vikings. Both players performed well when they played together, with Tomlinson registering 42 tackles and 2.5 sacks and Smith totaling 10 sacks, his third double-digit sack season in the last four years.

Both players, however, haven't quite played in a defensive line system where aggressiveness is the core — and frankly, only — feature, and the idea of playing together in it was one reason why Tomlinson was excited when he learned about Smith's trade to Cleveland.

"I was at home on my computer, and someone texted me, 'We got Za'Darius! We got Za'Darius!" he said. "I was just super excited. We're going to make some crazy stuff happen with this front up here."

Add in a player as established and consistent as Garrett and a possible 2023 breakout candidate in Okoronkwo, and Tomlinson sees the makings of a defensive line that can do damage against anyone.

"I feel like we're going to be putting together a lot of schematics together with that front," he said, "and it's going to get crazy."

Here are other observations from Day 2 of minicamp:

- After participating in team drills Tuesday, WR Amari Cooper watched practice on the sidelines as he continues to recover and take things easy after undergoing core muscle surgery earlier in the offseason.

- K Cade York went 5-for-6 during a field goal session. His lone miss was on his fourth attempt from a deeper distance, but he nailed the next kick from a similar length.

- QB Deshaun Watson looked smooth for the second consecutive day in red zone seven-on-seven drills and connected with WRs Jaelon Darden, Cedric Tillman and TE David Njoku on touchdowns. Darden, in particular, has made some nice plays during first-team reps in the two minicamp practices — he also caught a deep ball from Watson on Tuesday.

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