Rookies Hughes, Winn contribute to Browns defense
Two Browns rookies are making an impact and to the surprise of
fans, they’re not first-round picks Trent Richardson and Brandon
Defensive linemen John Hughes and Billy Winn are later-round
picks trying to contribute.
One of the main defensive goals for Cleveland (No. 30 in the AP
Pro32) is to stop the run after ranking 30th in that area a year
Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard bolstered the line as rookies
then. Both wore down, as did tackle Ahtyba Rubin, and opponents
ground out yardage late in games. Hughes and Winn were brought in
Turns out, both are playing more than even general manager Tom
Heckert envisioned when he took Hughes in the third round from
Cincinnati and Boise State’s Winn in the sixth. Taylor had surgery
to repair a torn pectoral muscle and is out until midseason. Scott
Paxson has been sidelined since Aug. 10 with a leg injury.
”They are both young, play hard, and have done a pretty fine
job,” coach Pat Shurmur said.
That covers a lot of ground. So do Hughes, at 6-foot-2, 320
pounds, and the 6-4, 295-pound Winn.
Shurmur likes more than their size. He wants to see how they
fare Friday against Philadelphia, a team that emphasizes speed.
”The Eagles are a quick, fast team, and it’ll be important for
those guys to defeat their blocks and obviously, be ready to tackle
either the quarterback or the back,” he said. ”They have done a
good job of progressing. … They’ll learn something new each
And speed is something both players have learned a lot
”The speed is not like anything I faced in college,” Hughes
Winn agreed: ”I’ve played against bigger guys, stronger guys,
but the tempo is just so much faster and it’s every play.”
Winn said he relies on fundamentals, vowing not to freelance and
risk getting caught out of position.
”You have to trust your teammates, your coaches, and if they
say, ‘Stay home,’ you stay,” he said. ”You’ll get your chance to
make a play. It will come your way. You just better be ready when
it does because it will come fast.”
Each taps into information offered not only by veteran
defenders, but offensive linemen they battle each day in practice.
They get true hands-on instruction from Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas
and veteran center Alex Mack.
”Using my hands more, that’s the big thing I’m learning,” Winn
Hughes didn’t practice Monday, but both he and Shurmur don’t
seem worried by his undisclosed ailment, which came when linebacker
D’Qwell Jackson rolled over on him Sunday.
Winn is considered more of a pass rusher and Hughes regarded as
stronger against the run. Neither completely agrees.
”Versatility is more important,” Hughes said. ”I’ve got to be
able to stop the run and pressure the passer. If I couldn’t do all
that stuff, I wouldn’t be here.”
He did both on one play Thursday in Green Bay, tackling running
back Marc Tyler for a 3-yard loss on a screen pass.
”I wouldn’t paint them both into a run-stopper or pass-rusher
box yet,” Shurmur said. ”Just because a guy is physical enough to
stop the run doesn’t mean he can’t generate pass rush. Just because
(Winn) has got quickness doesn’t mean he can’t play the run. Those
are at first glance what their attributes are. Now they need to
develop into total players.”
NOTES: WR Carlton Mitchell (right leg) practiced for the first
time in a week. … TE Alex Smith limped off after a missed pass,
but returned two plays later. … RB Chris Ogbonnaya walked off
after Jackson landed on his right leg during a two-minute drill.
… Rookie DB Antwuan Reed also left with a trainer with an
apparent left leg injury. … OL Jeff Shugarts and DL Auston
English had a heated confrontation. Some yelling teammates joined
in and nearly made it a skirmish before the two were separated. …
Rookie receiver Josh Gordon had the day’s best catch, reaching over
CB James Dockery’s tight coverage to grab a long pass from
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and