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Not much competition for starting spots on Browns' strong defensive line


Media and fan discussion about the competition on the defensive line for the Browns will begin in earnest on July 26, when the team holds its first practice of training camp.

In the meantime, here are some thoughts about the impending battles for starting and backup spots at the position:

There really doesn't seem to be much in the way of true competition for starting spots on the defensive line, which arguably could rank among the better ones in the NFL. One area to watch is end, where Ahtyba Rubin is expected to receive a strong push from Billy Winn, who will begin camp on the active/non-football injury list. Based on how well he performed last season, his second in the NFL, and on his impressive work during the offseason, Winn has made a compelling case for a long look at a starting job. At the very least, Winn would figure to see significantly more playing time. Winn has an exceptional combination of size, strength, and speed. He is arguably one of the better athletes on the team. And he is unmatched when it comes to effort and enthusiasm.

Expect Rubin to put up a strong fight. He has dropped some weight to help increase his quickness off the ball and lateral movement. Rubin does a nice job of reading blocking schemes and anticipating how and where plays will be run. If he were to lose the starting job, he would still be a valuable asset, but could the Browns afford to have a seventh-year veteran in a backup role?

Desmond Bryant should be poised to have a monster season. Bryant was on his way to having a strong year in 2013, but then he developed an irregular heartbeat that required a medical procedure that ended his season prematurely. Bryant has fully recovered, and demonstrated in the offseason that he is ready to get back to his early season form of '13. When healthy, he routinely overpowers blockers with immense strength to go along with an extremely quick first step. He also has tremendous versatility and can be utilized in a variety of spots along the line, which fits perfectly with the multiple looks that Mike Pettine's defense will show.

Phil Taylor is an ideal fit in Pettine's scheme, which puts a premium on tackles with his considerable girth, quickness and power. Although there is no contact in offseason practice, Taylor consistently put himself in position to make plays against the run and while rushing the passer.

The Browns have exceptional depth at tackle. Ishmaa'ily Kitchen and John Hughes, who can also play end, are solid players who can be meaningful parts of a steady rotation at the position. Rookie free agent Calvin Barnett did plenty to turn heads during the offseason, and looks to have a good chance of making the roster.

Armonty Bryant, who performed well as a rookie reserve, seems poised to have a strong second season. He has added some strength to his frame and has done a good job of enhancing his technique work through the offseason. >>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, for "Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford" on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on We take your questions at 216-578-0850 and via Twitter @Browns_Daily.

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