Browns Monday: Haden on Manziel, defense

Browns Monday: Haden on Manziel, defense

On where the Browns' defense is and how much better it will be than last year:

"We have a really good D. At the same time, we have a whole lot of things that we can do better. I see a lot of good things going on. We have good leadership with (LB Karlos) Dansby, (DB Donte) Whitner, myself. There's so much competition on the defensive side of the ball. Everybody knows they have to step up. They have to make plays to make the squad. I think that our defense could be very special."

On his thoughts on QBs Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel:

"I like both of them. Both of them are doing really positive things trying to control the offense. They're just getting more comfortable. The defense isn't really helping out too much. We're trying to make it as tough as possible for them."

On allowing WR Travis Benjamin to catch a pass at practice:

"I had on boxing gloves. (Head) Coach (Mike Pettine) has us putting on boxing gloves. With the way they're calling the game so tight now, they want to make sure we can't grab or put our hands on a receiver so we practice with boxing gloves."

On Manziel getting reps with the first team:

"Like we said, it's a good solid competition. At the end of the day, the coaches put him in their so I think they probably saw something or wanted to see what Johnny looked like going against the one defense with the one wide receivers and offensive line. It's just mixing it up and seeing how players react and what's going on. I think it's a solid competition. Both of them are doing really good jobs. I like it."

On if he's seen progress out of Manziel:

"He's becoming more comfortable. You can see he's finally starting to relax. I think just understanding the offense lets you play a whole lot faster, especially at quarterback. You've got to do the protections and know your hot routes and understand what defense we're in. I think now you can finally see he's moving around a little bit more and feeling a little more comfortable. That's the thing. When you finally understand the offense, you can play a little bit faster."

On if he saw Manziel in college:

"I watched him a lot. He was a good player to watch in college."

On what his impressions of Manziel were at that point as a cornerback:

"I liked him. He was a winner. I liked the way he played with passion. He was a playmaker. Running around, scrambling around, being able to throw the ball like that – that's something that a lot of people aren't able to do. He's able to extend plays. He has a really good arm – a big arm. I like him. I like his personality. He was playing with a lot of passion and they were winning. I liked him."

On if he notices tendencies from Manziel that he can work on:

"Not really. He looks people off. He does a good job at that, but there aren't too many tendencies that we could jump on."

On how good it is to have WR Josh Gordon on the field and if everyone is anticipating what kind of news they'll get:

"It's always special to have Josh out there. When Josh is out there it's like (Cleveland Cavalier) LeBron (James) came back. He's a big, big part of the offense. He's a really really special player. Having him out there makes a difference. I like having him out there."

On if Gordon seems encouraged:

"I don't think he's encouraged about it, but he's doing the best he can. He's staying positive. At the same time, he has the support of us, his teammates. We're like his family, so anything he needs he knows we've got him. He's just trying to keep it as positive as he can."

On if the defense is really as good as they look in practice:

"We're trying to be. We have a lot of room for improvement. We're trying to make sure we push the offense. It is a competition, but at the same time we know that if the defense does good, it's just making the offense better. We have competition going on over there. We have competition going on in our room. Everybody is trying to make each other better. Everybody is just trying to get each other better. It's really healthy and it's going to make us a better team overall."

On what he's seen out of DB Justin Gilbert and if having DB Buster Skrine in the slot is ideal:

"I don't know about ideal. Whoever ends up winning the spot – it's just so much good competition. Justin Gilbert is playing really well. He has all the tools that you need to be a legitimate lock-down outside corner – tall, fast, strong, can play the ball really well. At the same time, Buster's not slacking off. Everybody's just playing really well."

On if the new rules and a heavy focus in the NFL on calling tighter games makes hitting receivers right as they get off the line even more important:

"Definitely. You can't open the gate. The thing is we've got to take the coaching that they're giving us right now to just make sure we do our work in the first five yards. We've been working on that every individual – getting our step replace, making sure we put our hand on receivers and then after that five you've got to get off of them."

On the kind of gloves they were wearing:

"I think they're kick boxing gloves. I came out today and we had boxing gloves on. It was crazy."

On what makes him think this defense can make a substantial jump this year.

"I think it's the guys and it's the system. The system is built to have corners outside that can play man and people that can get after the quarterback and make them get the ball out quick. As long as we hold it up – I think in the back end we've got a lot of players that can really cover – and we get pressure on the quarterback with all these exotic blitzes that we play, I think it looks good for us. I think we could be special."

On how LB Barkevious Mingo is helping the defense:

"Mingo, he's helping a lot. He's looking good. He's big and athletic. He has the tools as long as Coach is putting him in the position to be successful. That's why I think this (defensive system) is making a lot of players do really well."

On if the new emphasis on limiting contact with wide receivers past five yards is frustrating because there are so many rules already geared to the offense and if he thinks Seattle Seahawks DB Richard Sherman has something to do with that being a point of emphasis:

"I think what the Seahawks did in the Super Bowl kind of messed everybody up. With that big powerful offense, and then you got Richard Sherman, you've got those dudes in the secondary putting hands on people, disrupting timing. It just throws things off. It's an offensive league, so you got to adjust."

On how Hoyer and Manziel are different from a cornerback's standpoint:

"One thing I'll say is Manziel – Hoyer probably does the same thing – but the only thing different for me is Manziel is going to extend. If it's not open he's going to extend about 80-percent of the plays. If his first option isn't open, second option, he's going to start scrambling around, moving around and you've just definitely got to make sure you stay on your receivers a little bit longer."

On if that makes it more difficult:

"It makes it a little more difficult because you've got to cover a little bit longer."

On if he thinks the Seahawk's team last year with their dominant defense and functional offense is comparable to the Browns this year:

"Yeah, they had a really really, really good formula. They had a really, really solid defense, and offense that ran the ball really well and a quarterback that controlled the ball and didn't do anything to mess it up. I like the way they did it. At the same time with our team, we have a really solid defense. Offense is going to be good. I think with defense being the main thing with the Seahawks, I can see the resemblance, but I think with our offense, we've got two quarterbacks that can really sling the ball too."

On what it says about the defense that the first play they executed at Saturday's scrimmage was a safety blitz:

"He's going to get after it. (DB) Donte (Whitner) is a really good blitzer. That's the thing that I said earlier that Coach does that's going to help us out; he puts players in positions to make plays. Donte is a really good blitzer and he can cover so he's going to have our safeties blitzing. If you're a good nickel back that can blitz, he's going to have you going. Linebackers that can blitz – he's going to make sure whatever you do well he's going to make sure he's going to put that in for the defense."

On what Coach Pettine has been like his first training camp this week and if it feels like it's his first here:

"It feels like he's been coaching for a while. He's so comfortable the way he roams around and makes sure he's involved. I've never really had a defensive-minded coach before. He's in there for the defensive installs and he's installing our defense for us as a head coach. I've never had that before. He's being hands-on and making sure everybody is paying attention. I really like that."

On his thoughts on WR Willie Snead as being a really hands-on receiver:

"I think the same thing. I like him a lot. He was doing OTAs and mini-camp and even out here now, I was saying as a rookie, he's doing the best as a receiver. He runs really good routes. He catches the ball. He's strong with his hands, and at the same time he blocks well. He's just not afraid. He comes out here and does what he has to do and he's physical."