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Wearing down

December 20, 2010 - Mike McLain
When the Browns begin preparations for the offseason, one topic that should be high on the discussion list is the defensive line.

There's no doubt that landing a big-play receiver is important, but the lack of depth on the defensive line has become alarming. The only player worth bringing back next season is nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin, who's developed into a strong force.

Shaun Rogers can't stay healthy and is nearing the end of the line as a useful player. The same can be said about Kenyon Coleman. Robaire Smith went on injured reserve earlier this season, which probably means the end of his career.

The problem up front is the primary reason why the run defense has been so weak in recent weeks. Positive strides were made early this season, but the wear and tear up front, combined with the loss of linebacker Scott Fujita, has turned the run defense into a wall with many leaks.

It's rare to see a team that's consistently good that doesn't play the run well. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a perfect example. The Steelers might go back-and-forth as far as having a run-first or pass-first offense, but they've always placed stopping the run at the top of their overall plan.

That hasn't changed this season. The Steelers lead the NFL in rushing defense, allowng 63. yards a game. Winning games sometimes can be easy when the defense is strong against the run.

A receiver could be a high pick for the Browns, and there's a definite need for help on the right side of the offensive line.

The best pick, however, might be a run-stuffing defensive lineman.

It doesn't appear that the Browns will need to select a quarterback high in next year's draft.


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