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Browns minicamp: A sneak peek at Ray Horton’s 3-4 base defense

By Nate Ulrich Published: April 17, 2013

It’s only April, so the starting lineup for the 2013 season isn’t even close to being set.

However, it’s still interesting to examine which personnel the Browns are using as they convert from a 4-3 system to new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 multi-front scheme.

One thing is for sure: Horton is hell-bent on pressuring the quarterback.

Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has played in 3-4 schemes before, but he said he has never been in an attacking-style defense like the one Horton is installing.

“I watch all the top defenses – Baltimore, Pittsburgh -- they get after people, and that’s what Ray brings here,” Jackson said. “Baltimore has been highly successful with their cross dog, sending the two inside linebackers on stunts, and we run a ton of it. It’s going to be good to finally get after Baltimore and Pittsburgh and actually give them a little dose of their own medicine.”

Based on observations during the 30-minute portion of practice open to reporters today and interviews with players afterward, here is the first-team defense the Browns are using in their 3-4 base package this week during minicamp:

LDE: Desmond Bryant
NT: Phil Taylor
RDE: Ahtyba Rubin
LOLB: Paul Kruger
LILB: D’Qwell Jackson
RILB: Craig Robertson
ROLB: Jabaal Sheard
LCB: Joe Haden
RCB: Buster Skrine
SS: T.J. Ward
FS: Tashaun Gipson

Notes: Taylor and Rubin expect to swap spots occasionally. Both of them believe they’re versatile enough to play nose tackle and end. ... Rubin said he’s watching his diet and weighs 306 pounds now after playing last season between 315-320 pounds. … Jackson said the starting inside linebacker job next to him is open. He said Robertson is getting the first crack at it, and James-Michael Johnson is part of the competition, too. … Sheard said he doesn’t view his switch from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 outside linebacker as a sacrifice because he always wanted to be a linebacker. However, he has played end his entire life.

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