Quote of the Day is a recurring series that will single out something said by a Browns player, coach or executive in a given day and provide context behind its importance.
The quote: "My goals for this year are to play healthy and contribute to the team. There are always going to be ups and downs and hurdles that you have to bound over, but that was just one of them last year. It was unfortunate. The whole season last year ended up being unfortunate for everybody. We had high expectations, and it just did not go the way we planned it. That is the NFL for you. At the end of the day, it isn't a fairytale. There is not a fairytale script when it comes to this league. You play in the best league. You are playing against the best. Everybody has talent. Looking forward to this year, guys getting on the same page and putting in that work. We have a lot to look forward to right now."
The Browns missed Olivier Vernon during the second half of 2019. That was true before the team lost Myles Garrett, and it was compounded when Cleveland was without both of its starting defensive ends.
The attention on the return of Garrett has been understandably immense. Garrett recently inked a lengthy contract extension and his potential matches his own personal goals, which are sky high. He's one of the NFL's best pass rushers and is poised to be a game-changer in his fourth NFL season.
But Vernon shouldn't be overlooked. The Pro Bowl veteran was a major acquisition for Cleveland heading into the 2019 season, and he made the Browns much better on the defensive line through the first half of 2019. Some of his best moments came in the Browns' biggest win of the season, a Week 4 triumph over Baltimore that was just as much of a credit to the defensive line as it was the offensive outburst that propelled the team to a 40-25 victory.
Vernon finished the season with 3.5 sacks and 26 tackles, almost all of which were compiled over eight games. He appeared in two more during the second half of the season but was very limited.
Vernon was not only missed from an on-field production perspective, but also from the kind of leadership a healthy veteran can provide when the season is on the brink. Vernon was outspoken Monday about what went wrong in 2019, and he's confident the Browns are a little older and wiser and ready to learn from that experience.
"It is not easy to win in this league," Vernon said. "Week in, week out, you have to bring it no matter what. No team is ever going to lay down for you. I think that was a learning lesson and learning curve for a lot of guys. Hopefully, a lot of guys gathered that information and carry it with them, and hopefully, that reminds them, especially for this upcoming season, just to give more motivation into staying focused, staying disciplined and getting after it."
Vernon has gotten after it through the first few days of practice. He's playing an important role not just for the defense, but also the offense. He's providing the first veteran test for rookie LT Jedrick Wills Jr., and he's considered a key part in Cleveland's plan to prepare Wills for the bright lights of his first NFL season.
Vernon will be ready to rise to the occasion when that time arrives. It's his ninth season, after all, and the Browns are confident he'll be providing a major impact all throughout it.
"We think that Myles and OV can be a really strong duo for us this upcoming season," EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry said. "Obviously, we want to make sure that OV stays healthy and stays on the field. We think that we can be tough to block up front when those two guys are really going."
Check out photos from the third day of Browns Camp