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Browns rookie linebacker Christian Kirksey willing to be flexible in coach Mike Pettine's defense

By Nate Ulrich Published: June 20, 2014

The Browns drafted Christian Kirksey in the third round last month to compete with Craig Robertson for the starting inside linebacker spot next to Karlos Dansby.

But after they cut veteran Quentin Groves two weeks ago and were left with only five outside linebackers, coach Mike Pettine revealed that they would experiment with Kirksey as an outside linebacker, too.

“I played a little bit of outside linebacker at Iowa,” Kirksey said Thursday during a youth football clinic at FirstEnergy Stadium. “My mindset is wherever the team needs me to play, wherever the coach needs me to play, I’m just out there working and just trying to improve my game, just trying to have fun and play to the best of my abilities. So wherever coach wants me to play, that’s what I’ll do.”

Pettine believes it’s important to “cross-train” players at multiple positions.

“You’re trying to get guys to master their original position,” Pettine said. “You don’t want them to become the old ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’ But when the roster gets trimmed down, then you realize you’ve got to sit another eight guys on game day [and] you have to have some guys doing multiple jobs.”

Kirksey is confident he can be effective as an inside or outside linebacker in Pettine’s 3-4, hybrid scheme.

“Talking with my teammates and just being around this rookie class and veteran linebackers like Karlos Dansby and Craig Robertson in the meeting room, they just tell me to go out there and be confident and have fun and do what I’ve been doing since I was 7 – just playing football,” Kirksey said. “So that’s where my confidence level is at.”


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