August 21, 2014

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Browns’ Wimbley ready to turn it up a notch this season

BEREA — Kamerion Wimbley didn’t disappoint last year.
He led the Browns with 11 sacks, setting a franchise rookie record. He had a team-leading 17 quarterback pressures and added 67 tackles. He was voted player of the year by local writers.
But to some, it wasn’t enough. He didn’t transform the Browns into a feared pass-rushing team (they tied for 27th with 28 sacks) nor a stout run defense (29th). So, expectations will be even higher this season.
“Everybody said they were quiet sacks,” coach Romeo Crennel said Monday with a hint of sarcasm. “Hopefully he’ll start making some noise on his sacks this year. I think if he improves, you’ll begin to see some of that.”
Volume of a sack is difficult to measure. Wimbley had two sacks in a win at Oakland, 1½ in a close loss at San Diego and one apiece in wins over Atlanta and Kansas City. The Browns lost on Christmas Eve to Tampa Bay, but he had a strip sack that was returned for a touchdown by Daven Holly.
Silence can be loud sometimes.
“I thought it was a pretty good year for a rookie year,” said Wimbley, the 13th overall pick who made the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker. “I’m not satisfied, I think there are some things I could have done better.
“I’m working on it and hopefully this year I can go out and show I made the improvements I needed to make.”
Wimbley (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) said he’s more relaxed and confident in his second year at linebacker. He’s also fresher and stronger after an offseason devoted solely to football.
“I was a little bit worn down coming straight out of college and going through the combine and making the transition from Florida to Cleveland and the transition from defensive lineman to linebacker,” he said.
Wimbley applied most of his pressure with one speed move. He dipped his shoulder, got amazingly low to the ground and ran around the tackle. He was asked if he needs to expand his repertoire.
“Last year I had 11 sacks, so I think I did pretty good with the move that I had,” he said. “This year there’s probably going to be more attention paid to it, so I’ll change it up.
“I won’t keep doing the same thing if it gets stopped. I want to get to the quarterback, so I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.”
Whatever it takes is an interesting concept. Hall of Fame running back and executive adviser Jim Brown said a player needs a mean streak.
“You gotta have a little dog in you to take it to another level,” Brown said.
Wimbley is all bite and little bark. He doesn’t trash talk, chest thump or sack dance — and he doesn’t see that as a problem.
“On the field, I’m doing my job,” he said. “If I’m going to tackle someone, I might as well do it hard. I don’t think when I’m out there I’m to be taken lightly. I just go out there and I compete.”
Crennel thinks the mean streak is overrated.
“You don’t always have to be mean to be a competitor,” Crennel said. “I think Kamerion is a really tough competitor, he likes to win just as much as LT (Giants great Lawrence Taylor), (San Diego’s Shawne) Merriman, all those guys.”
And he’s looking for an even better second season.
“Last year the goal was a sack per game,” Wimbley said. “That’s something I didn’t reach, so that’s still a goal I’m trying to achieve.
“If I can get that, then that’s great. If not, then I’ll set it again next year.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7136 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.