BEREA, Ohio–Rookie Leon McFadden is trying to make a quick impression on the coaching staff and make his case for being the starting cornerback opposite of Joe Haden. However, McFadden will have a lot of ground to make up between now and Sept, 8 as he tries to overtake veterans Chris Owens and Buster Skrine.
Owens is the favorite to open the season by virtue of his NFL experience. He’s in his fifth season after four seasons with the Falcons after being a third-round pick of Atlanta. The Browns signed him as an unrestricted free agent to bolster the cornerback position.
“I feel honored that everyone is coming out here and competing for that number one spot,” McFadden said. “It gives me motivation and there’s pressure, but every day we’re out here giving it our all as DB’s.”
McFadden said he feels like he’s coming along well and isn’t worried about becoming a starter immediately.
“I feel like I’m making progress every day,” he said. “I’m just competing every day and we’ll know who’s going to start when the season comes.
“Everybody is out here competing,” he said. “I’m bringing my best game every day and the coaches are having the mindset of having a great team and the expectations that we have.”
McFadden played at San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference, known as a passing conference.
“That actually helped me out a lot playing in a league that passes the ball a lot,” he said. “I think it was an advantage that in the Mountain West they threw the ball like (in the NFL).”
McFadden (5-10, 195) knows when the real bullets start flying next week in the preseason opener with the Rams, things will change.
In practice on Wednesday, McFadden raced across the field and batted down a pass by Jason Campbell that was intended for Jordan Norwood.
“The (biggest difference) is the uptempo practices and being a professional, those are the biggest differences,” McFadden said. “Everybody is the best of the best and you have to mind your P’s and Q’s.
“It’s a lot different coming from college to being a pro,” he said. “It’s more uptempo and that’s the biggest transition that I’ve had to make. Reading the three step is something that I didn’t do (in college) and now I’m doing it now it every day.”
McFadden said he continues to learn from the veteran defensive backs on the Browns including Joe Haden, Owens and Skrine.
“I’m learning from all of the DB’s that have been in the league and am taking little bits and pieces of their game and doing what you have to do to prepare for practice and games.”
He says there is good competition among the cornerbacks and it helps bring everyone’s game to a higher level.
“This is the game of football and we all like to compete,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing, as a defensive back, is competing. If you have a ball caught on you, you have to forget it and go on to the next play.”
Gordon Back: WR Josh Gordon was back in full pads practicing after missing two days with patellar tendinitis. He started with work on the JUGs machine.
Injury Update: DB T.J. Ward (hamstring) did not practice as he was bothered by a hamstring injury. DB Tashaun Gipson (shoulder), WR Josh Gordon (patellar tendinitis) and OL Chris Faulk (knee) worked on the side with trainers. OL Oniel Cousins (ankle), FB Brock Bolen (calf) continue to miss practice. WR David Nelson tweaked his knee on a drill and sat out some drills. Desmond Bryant returned to team drills.
Old Friends: Former Browns Jamel White and Steve Sanders were part of the Heads Up youth football initiative along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle was in attendance as was former Chiefs GM Carl Peterson.