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Young Browns DBs ready to put stamp on new-look secondary

The Browns defensive secondary remains a work in progress, but Ray Horton likes what he's seen out of the room so far this offseason.

"They are really working hard to improving their technique, which is what we are asking them to do now. Really what we are asking all the guys on the team to do is understand the playbook first, then get on the grass and improve their technique," the defensive coordinator said recently.

"That's really all football is — understanding what you're doing and having good technique that's fundamentally sound and that will hold up during a game. We're really just trying to build that across the whole team."

And as the Browns near the end of offseason workouts with a mandatory veteran minicamp set to start Tuesday, the secondary — which returns the likes of Pro Bowler Joe Haden and veteran Tramon Williams — is one where there are spots still up for grabs.

"We're rolling a lot of guys in there, there are a lot of bodies back there," Horton said. "We're trying to really move guys around at different positions to stress them a little bit to make them learn, and also a little bit in position from left to right, corner to nickel, corner to safety."

In particular, Cleveland finds itself in search of two new starting safeties after parting ways with Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson earlier this year.

Among those candidates are Ibraheim Campbell and Jordan Poyer, whom are both poised to play bigger roles on a defense looking to improve after struggling in 2015.

"We realize that this is a new team so we have to take ownership of it as a safety group and as a DB group," Campbell said. "We're looking forward to establishing an identity not only for the secondary but the defense as a whole."

He added: "Whatever form that ends up taking, we plan on being very physical, making plays all over the field and just dominating in every aspect of football and of the defense."

The Browns took to the practice fields for their final offseason training activity of 2016 before next week's minicamp.

In addition to a room that includes Charles Gaines, Pierre Desir, K'Waun Williams, Justin Gilbert and Don Jones, the Browns also brought in several newcomers, including former Texans safety Rahim Moore, rookie safety Derrick Kindred, rookie cornerback Trey Caldwell and former Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor.

Against that backdrop, there's no shortage of competition among the defensive backs for playing time. Poyer, who enters his fourth season in the league, said he embraces such a dynamic.

"This league is always competition, every day from as soon as you wake up in the morning until you go to bed. What you are doing on the field, off of the field, in the weight room, it's always competition," he said.

"The guys around us can play, and we believe that we can play, too. There's always going to be competition and that is why you play the game. It is fun getting to play and there is always competition on the field."

Campbell added: "That's something that Coach Jackson has stressed, just the importance of competing and making not only yourself better but also your teammates better every day, every opportunity you get to step on that field to improve yourself."

And in the process, the Browns hope to leave their mark on a new-look secondary.

"Are we where we want to be? Absolutely not. It's going to be a work in progress," Horton said, "but their attention to detail and focus has been outstanding."

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