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Back to work

April 1, 2013 - Mike McLain
BEREA -- Stage one of the 2013 NFL season began Monday for the Cleveland Browns with the start of the offseason conditioning program.

More than 60 players showed up at the team's complex. Players aren't required to attend the workouts, but lack of participation isn't viewed favorably by coaches.

"It was great to see the guys as a group for the first time," first-year coach Rob Chudzinski said. "I was extremely pleased with the turnout. I believe that the program (strength coach) Brad (Roll) and our strength staff has devised will greatly benefit our players. These next two weeks will be an opportunity for the players to get acclimated to our offseason program, spend some time getting to know each other and also to have some meeting time with their position coaches before having our first organized on-field work on April 16."

The conditioning sessions will work in conjunction with offseason training activities (OTAs). OTAs are on-the-field practices in which elements of the offense and defense can be installed. It will all lead to a full squad minicamp that is usually conducted during the second week of June.

Coaches generally believe that winning seasons begin in the spring with conditioning. The OTAs are invaluable for a first-year coach that will be making major changes.

Gone from the Pat Shurmur two-season coaching era is the 3-4 base defense. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton will install a base 4-3 that will have a hybrid look. In other words, expect to see multiple fronts.

General manager Mike Lombardi has been busy acquiring players to fill the front-seven defensive roles. Paul Kruger was signed from the Baltimore Ravens to play outside linebacker. Quintin Groves left the Arizona Cardinals to sign with the Browns. Groves and Jabaal Sheard, who's moving from end to linebacker, will compete for time.

Lombardi also plucked defensive lineman Desmond Bryant away from the Oakland Raiders to play end.


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