By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
This is the seventh in a series of position-by-position thoughts on the Browns after nine games. In this installment, we take a look at the secondary:
>>The secondary suffered a major blow when left cornerback Joe Haden missed four games, from weeks two through five, because of an NFL-mandated suspension. The Browns sorely missed his excellent coverage and playmaking. They also lost all four games. Haden’s return for the last four games has provided a significant boost to the defense and has done plenty to help enhance the effectiveness of the pass rush.
>>In Haden’s absence, the Browns started Dimitri Patterson, who did a nice job as a nickel cornerback last year and was solid as a first-stringer. But then Patterson suffered an ankle injury that has kept him out for the last four games. The Browns have had to call upon second-year pro Buster Skrine to fill in as the nickel corner, and after a shaky start with opposing quarterbacks challenging him, he has shown improvement. Skrine made the biggest play of his career by breaking up a pass to seal the Browns’ 7-6 victory against San Diego.
>>Although right cornerback Sheldon Brown is 33 and in his 11th NFL season, he continues to demonstrate a tremendous capacity for making big plays. He had an interception return for a touchdown to help close out the Browns’ Oct. 14 win against Cincinnati and a sack/forced fumble/fumble recovery in their loss against Indianapolis. Brown remains a stabilizing force for the youthful secondary.
>>Strong safety T.J. Ward, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, has generally made his presence felt since the start of the season. Ward, who has fought through hand and shoulder injuries, has been a physical presence against the run and has done a solid job of covering tight ends. His best performance of the season came against the Chargers, when he was a disruptive force as a blitzer and stout in run support. Usama Young has been solid in starting the last seven games at free safety.
>>Carucci’s Corner is presented by Panera Bread.
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>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.
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