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News: The Browns sign free-agent linebacker Mychal Kendricks to a one-year contract and release veteran linebacker Tank Carder.
Views: The improved Cleveland defense just got that much better.
The one area on that side of the football that had talent to begin with but lacked quality depth was linebacker and the Kendricks signing more than took care of that.
He joins rookie draft pick Genard Avery and James Burgess Jr., who filled in nicely when Jamie Collins went down with a season-ending injury early in the 2017 campaign, to give the Browns strength at that position.
The versatility of the six-year veteran is what prompts that notion. He can play anywhere no matter what defensive coordinator Gregg Williams schemes. The possibilities abound
Need a run stop in a 4-3 alignment, Kendricks is your man at the Mike backer. Need someone to cover a tight end or running back on a pass pattern, ditto, whether it’s on the strong side or weak side. Rush the passer, no problem.
Coach Hue Jackson said Kendricks will start off in the middle, but most likely won’t stay there for long in Williams’ scheme-heavy defense. He probably will be hard to locate from down to down due to his versatility.
“I’m here to do whatever is asked of me,” Kendricks said, “and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. As long as I’m on the field, I’m going to make stuff happen. I promise.” Music to a defensive coordinator’s ears
So where does that leave Joe Schobert, who is coming off a Pro Bowl season at middle linebacker, playing every snap? With Kendricks’ arrival, the chances of duplicating that feat are slim.
He has better football instincts and is a stronger tackler than Schobert, who made many of his 144 tackles last season beyond the line of scrimmage. It wouldn’t surprise if Williams on occasion ines Schobert up as a pass rusher, where he excelled in college.
He came out of Wisconsin after a 9½-sack season with the Badgers and the Browns played him outside as a rookie before moving him inside, where he surprised everyone with his production last season.
Christian Kirksey, a young veteran, joins the versatility brigade, having played inside for a couple of seasons before switching outside last season.
Kendricks, who chose the Browns over the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders, brings along a winning mentality to the Browns, whose relationship with winning football has nosedived the last two seasons under Jackson.
“This is my first day here,” he said after Tuesday’s OTA session in Berea. “One thing I know is I will bring intensity, passion, a love for the game, a skill set I hope will showcase itself and leadership.”
Carder’s value was on special teams and his departure is no big loss. General Manager John Dorsey has recruited and/or drafted enough younger players to make the veteran expendable.
News: The Philadelphia Eagles were disinvited to the White House Tuesday for a celebration of their Super Bowl victory.
Views: Nothing here. Moving on . . .
News: Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield is promoted to second team quarterback as the OTA winds down.
Views: Jackson called it nothing more than “mixing it up” and “tinkering” after the workout. “There’s nothing behind it. . . . There’s nothing to it," he said. Nobody should read into it.”
He was quick to assert Tyrod Taylor is still his starting quarterback. “He goes with the ones all the time,” he said. “We’re bringing Baker along. We’re teaching him the National Football League.”
And that, at least right now, is the way it should be. As much as fans would like to believe Mayfield is firmly ensconced behind Taylor with hopes of overtaking him, that’s not going to happen. Yet.
It’s way too early for such speculation. In fact, it’s way too early to take anything that has transpired in the OTA thus far too seriously. That will happen soon enough with minicamp, training camp and the exhibition season.
That’s when the many questions that face this team will be answered. Until then, speculate at your own peril.