<
>

Browns' Owens pushing for starting job

6/3/2013

Many believe, myself included, that rookie third-round pick Leon McFadden is going to start at cornerback for the Cleveland Browns this season. That could end up being a wrong assumption.

Chris Owens, a free-agent pickup from the Atlanta Falcons, has been running with the first-team defense for the last three weeks of offseason workouts, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. In some instances, Owens has been lining up outside and Buster Skrine has been covering the slot, which has put McFadden on the second team.

"You win positions in training camp. I think everybody knows that," Owens told the Beacon Journal. "So we don’t know who’s starting yet. I’m definitely going to compete my butt off, and we’ll see what happens come August.”

Owens, 26, hardly made headlines when he signed a one-year contract with the Browns on March 22, a deal that included $300,000 guaranteed. He was a nickelback for the Falcons last year and was benched at times because of his struggles. The biggest questions are his durability and playmaking skills. He's missed five games over the past two seasons because of two concussions and a hamstring injury.

Owens hasn't displayed much ball skills recently. Over the past two seasons, he's broken up a total of seven passes and hasn't intercepted a pass. His last interception came against Derek Anderson on Sept. 19, 2010.

Of course, as Owens said, it's too early to project who will start at cornerback opposite Joe Haden. The Browns could be bringing McFadden along slowly and end up giving him more first-team reps in training camp.

A month ago, The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto reported that McFadden and Owens will split time as the second starting corner.

Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski is familiar with Owens because he spent the past two seasons going against him as the offensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers.

"He has really good feet, mirror skills and cover skills," Chudzinski said of Owens. "He was a guy that we wanted to bring in and put into the mix with our corners to get a chance to compete. In this league, you need corners and you need to have good corners. Chris has been doing a nice job out there."