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American Football: Winslow challenges Browns' intensity after loss

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posted on Aug, 17 2004 @ 03:14 PM
In his first comments since being baptized into the NFL during last Saturday's preseason loss, rookie Kellen Winslow essentially challenged his Cleveland Browns teammates to match his intensity level and defended his emotional outbursts as a function of his competitiveness.

As an aside, the former Miami tight end also said that he's asked defensive coordinator Dave Campo to provide him some snaps as a pass rusher in training camp.

And he said all of it with a straight face, following a morning practice in which Winslow demonstrated both his enormous playmaking skills and proved he can sometimes manage to keep his passions in check.

"I only know one speed and I'm going to go 100 percent every play," said Winslow, the sixth player chosen overall in the draft. "I think the Browns need this. We all need [to do] this. We want [to make] a name for ourselves. We want to make our identity."

The words might have seemed unusual coming from a callow rookie, even one with the special skills Winslow possesses, but Winslow did not back down. Basically, he seemed to be exhorting everyone on the roster to follow his lead, perhaps forgetting that he has been in camp only a week.

Asked to clarify his admonition, Winslow said: "I wasn't here last year ... but they only won five games."

Certainly the former Hurricane, who last Tuesday night signed a six-year contract that could net him up to $40 million and included $16.5 million in guaranteed bonuses, is no shrinking violet on or off the field.

In the preseason opener, he tussled with Titans safety Lamont Thompson. And then in the Monday practice, he took on teammate Roosevelt Williams, knocking the corner on his back after catching a pass in the left flat. Williams charged that Winslow displayed "unprofessional" behavior on the play.

The physical skills possessed by Winslow are undeniable. In the Tuesday practice, he demonstrated the ability to create natural separation from the safeties, particularly in the red zone. Just as obvious, however, is the fact that Winslow, the son of the Hall of Fame tight end of the same name, will need to mature quickly.

He acknowledged that he expects to be baited by opponents because of his penchant for losing control of his emotions. Even during Tuesday's practice, it was clear some of his teammates are themselves attempting to get under Winslow's skin. He didn't deny that he can be prodded into mistakes.

"I've just got to make better decisions," he said.

To date, at least, Winslow seems to have meshed pretty well with his more experienced teammates. There may be some who believe it is incongruous for a rookie to have tried to take on a leadership role, but most understand Winslow is a unique talent and that he will only hasten the Browns' improvement.

"I love the attitude he brings to the team," said defensive tackle Gerard Warren. "It's something extra he adds in a positive way."

Speaking of something extra, Winslow allowed he wanted to do more to help the team, and said he approached Campo about allowing him to play some at defensive end. That isn't about to happen, of course, but Winslow likely won't let the request die easily.

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