Cleveland Browns minicamp: 5 things you need to know

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Jun 16, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns linebacker Craig Robertson (53) defends Cleveland Browns running back Glenn Winston (41) during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In an ongoing effort to stop every opposing running back from setting a personal best against the Browns every Sunday, the defense will explore using more four- and five-man fronts.

“We base out of a 3-4 personnel, but we really play a lot of five-man fronts because it is a lot of under fronts where our SAM and rush linebacker are up on the ball,” defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil told the team’s website. “I do think we’ll be able roll more guys up front, and that’s a good luxury because if you can keep those guys up front fresh, that will really help us in the later part of the game.

“The true test will be once we get the pads on, but I think just being able to go back and show the guys where the mistakes were made [is beneficial], whether it was technique, alignment or schematics. I think the position coaches have done a great job emphasizing it in their individual work in the meeting rooms. We’ve emphasized it a lot as a coaching staff. We got beat up a little bit in Phase II because the players aren’t allowed to go against each other in Phase II. The coaches have to be the dummies. I had some bruises on my chest from those guys rolling off on me. It’s definitely been a point of emphasis for us. I’m happy with where we are with the pads not being on right now, but we’ll really know in a couple months.”

The Browns loaded up on defensive linemen in the off-season in both the draft and free agency, and it will be interesting to see how the roster shakes out when you consider the club only carried seven defensive linemen on the opening day roster last year.

“The thing I love about Ray’s and Pettine’s philosophy is we’re going to keep the 53 best players, if we’re one or two heavy on the d-line or we’re one or two heavy at corner or one or two heavy on the offensive line,” O’Neil said. “I think that’s a great philosophy because if you try to match your roster to ‘We have to have this many guys at this position,’ you’re cutting good football players, which I don’t think you ever want to do. Are there going to be some tough decisions that probably have to be made, especially on our side of the ball? Absolutely. Absolutely. We’re probably going to have to cut a couple good football players when it is all said and done at the end of training camp.”

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