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News » Cleveland Browns Inside Slant 2008-08-25

Cleveland Browns Inside Slant 2008-08-25

Cleveland Browns Inside Slant 2008-08-25
A key player in the Browns quest to improve their run defense is inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, the team leader in tackles last season.

The Browns were 30th in the league defensively in 2007. They were 27th against the run and 24th against the pass. The five teams worse against the run were Kansas City, the Jets, Denver, Oakland and Miami. The Broncos won seven games. The Chiefs, Jets and Raiders each won four and the Dolphins won only once.

Jackson knows the path to the playoffs starts with stopping the run. The Browns scored 402 points last season and still missed the playoffs, despite winning 10 games, because they could not stop the other team.

Opponents averaged 4.5 yards a carry on the Browns last season. Unlike seasons past when opponents were grinding out the clock in the fourth quarter, piling up rushing yardage and skewing the stats, the rush totals last year were legitimate.

"We've had trouble with the run -- you just have to face it," Jackson said. "We've watched games a thousand times. We know what we didn't do right and what we have to do to correct those things.

"We had a lot of guys injured that were rushed back. It took a toll on them and it took a toll on the defense. But now we have young guys from last year stepping up. We have guys competing. We made the right moves to get in that postseason. Once you get in the postseason, anything can happen."

Jackson led the Browns with 114 tackles last season, but only three were for losses. That's because he was constantly fighting through a sea of blockers to get to the ball carrier.

Newly acquired nose tackle Shaun Rogers and defensive end Corey Williams are supposed to clear the way for Jackson and the remaining linebackers. Good idea, Jackson says, but he doesn't expect Rogers and Williams to do all the dirty work.

"I don't expect those guys to keep me free all the time, but when they do I have to make the most out of it," Jackson said. "I know those guys want to make plays. I'm basically reading off them. I told those guys 'Don't think you have to do everything by the book. We're going to play off each other.' We're going to get this thing done."

At 240 pounds, Jackson is 10 pounds heavier than a year ago, but he is still the lightest among the inside linebackers. Andra Davis, who starts alongside Jackson, weighs 250 pounds. Leon Williams also weighs 250.

Coach Romeo Crennel says Jackson makes up for his size difference by being an instinctive player. The Browns traded Jeff Faine to the Saints during the 2006 draft so they could move up in the second round, snatch Jackson and take advantage of those instincts.

"That showed up in college, that showed up his first year and last season and he still has that quality about him this year," Crennel said. "He has a better understanding of the defense, where he needs to fit, and how he has to take on some of those big guards that come out on him.

"He's made good progress. He understands the passing game. He's a good linebacker."

Jackson has not played a complete season yet. He was on injured reserve with a toe injury the last three games of 2006. He missed two games last year with an ankle injury.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 25, 2008

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Terry Cousin Name: Terry Cousin
Position: CB
Age: 33
Experience: 12 years
College: South Carolina
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