Thursday, April 07, 2005

Getting Defensive

Denver's rebuilt defensive line has a decidedly Cleveland hue to it. Four former Browns defensive linemen -- DEs Courtney Brown and Ebenezer Ekuban, along with DTs Gerard Warren and Michael Myers -- are expected to be major players in Denver's defense. Ekuban, who had a career-high eight sacks last season, and the oft-injured Brown, are an intriguing pair of bookends. Ekuban, a former first-round draft choice, could be a steal. He was obtained as part of a trade for RB Reuben Droughns. Ekuban is not as fast on the corner as Reggie Hayward, who departed Denver for Jacksonville early in free agency, but he's more rugged against the run and doesn't get lost in traffic. Brown, the first overall pick of the 2000 draft, has loads of talent, but hasn't come close to fulfilling his promise. The Broncos gave him a one-year, incentive-based contact. It was a wise move. If Brown can stay healthy, and come back from a major foot injury that wiped out most of his 2004 season, Denver could find an adequate replacement for DE Trevor Pryce, who is still seeking a trade. Brown can be a big, fast pass rusher the Broncos desperately need. Brown and Warren are expected to start, Ekuban should see a lot of playing time and Myers will compete with Mario Fatafehi and Monsanto Pope for playing time. The Cleveland quartet's transition will be made easier because former Browns defensive line coach Andre Patterson is now in Denver. Patterson was one of the major reasons Brown chose the Broncos over the Redskins, and Patterson is convinced Brown can reach his potential if given a new start. . . .

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