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Browns inside linebacker Craig Robertson discusses his opportunity to win starting job

By Nate Ulrich Published: May 17, 2013

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As the Browns transition from a 4-3 defense to new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4, multi-front scheme, Craig Robertson is receiving the biggest break of his young NFL career.

The 6-foot-1, 229-pound Robertson, a second-year pro who went undrafted out of the University of North Texas, has been working at inside linebacker with the first-team defense this offseason.

Robertson discussed his opportunity and more with reporters during the 14th annual Cleveland Browns Foundation Golf Tournament today at Westwood Country Club in Rocky River. Below are some highlights from the interview.

What do you like about Horton’s defense?: “It lets you be a player. You’re not constricted to doing certain things. You just go make a play. Go find the football. Make the tackle. We’ll live for another play. Then we’ll make something happen on defense.”

What are some things you’ll get to do in this defense that you didn’t get to do last year?: “Probably play with more confidence. Now I have three or four times as much confidence as I had last year just from actually knowing the defense and trying to actually learn the ins and outs of the defense, not just knowing what I’m doing but knowing what everybody is doing.”

Is this the opportunity you’ve been working toward?: “Whether I’m No. 1 or No. 10, I would have the same attitude. Every year, it would be the same thing for me. I treat it like I’m not supposed to be here, so I always work hard regardless. It doesn’t matter where I’m at. I’m still going to be the same person.”

Now that you’ve been working with the first-team defense, are you determined to hang onto this opportunity and start?: “I’m just determined for one to start winning. That’s all I’m worrying about. I’m not worried about starting or [being] second or third. We haven’t even put on pads, let alone put in a game plan yet. So we’re still trying to learn the defense, and I’m just still trying to enjoy it and have fun with it.”

Are you surprised a big break in your career presented itself with a new regime coming in?: “I’m not surprised. God does everything for a reason. All you can do is have fun with it. You can’t really stress about it. You can’t [be] too high or be too low. Just stay even-keeled and have fun with it.”

What can you say about another young inside linebacker, James-Michael Johnson, and his ability to push you?: “It’s not just James-Michael Johnson. It’s L.J. [Fort]. It’s Tank [Carder]. It’s Adrian Moten. It’s every guy in that room. It’s not just one guy. So we’re all going to push each other, and we’ve been doing since day one.”

What do you think of rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft?: “He’s made some plays. He’s quick. He has long arms. He’s able to drop back in coverage. People were kind of wanting to see that, and we saw it in the first couple of OTAs.”

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