Cleveland Browns' Pierre Desir continues transition to safety

CLEVELAND -- Pierre Desir may have been selected by the Cleveland Browns as a cornerback out of Lindenwood University in the 2014 NFL Draft, but with a new coaching staff and a gap to fill on the back end of the defense, he has undergone a position change.

With coordinator Ray Horton back in charge of the defense, Desir has been moved from cornerback to safety and is not only competing for a spot on the 53-man roster, but also, pushing Jordan Poyer and Ibraheim Campbell for a starting job.

“When I heard about the switch, I always feel that the more you can do, the better,” Desir said. “Whether they want me to play corner or safety, I’m just going to do whatever I can to help the team.

“You have to know a lot more when it comes to coverages and understanding what the offense it trying to do. When you’re a corner, it’s mainly you’re one-on-one coverage. At safety, you need to know everything that’s going on, on the field.”

Prior to the Browns’ offseason program, Desir had not played safety since his freshman year at Francis Howell Central High School in St. Louis, Missouri, but through repetitions in training camp and organized team activities, he is “getting that feel of playing safety.”

“With corner, you’re more on an island,” Desir said. “With safety, you have to be sure. You have to see everything and you have to make the calls to the corners and backers. You have to be the one that communicates and facilitates what’s going on the field.

“Being a safety, you have to be the sheriff. You have to make those calls because everyone is looking at you no matter what they’re doing. You have to be a lot more vocal, which helps me be able to really feel the game and understand it a little better.”

After playing under coach Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil during his first two years in the NFL, Desir is a much more confident player with Horton in control of the defense.

“The first two years, definitely a learning experience for me -- learned what to do, learned what not to do, learned how to correct those issues and learned how to move forward,” Desir said.

“They are really just trying to improve us as players. Whether it’s nutrition or the way that we lift, just to the way that we handle ourselves on and off the field, we’re just trying to be pros and they’re just trying to direct us in the right direction to get us there.”

And by getting Desir going in the right direction, Horton believes the team will benefit from another player learning to play multiple positions.

“We’re going to move guys around because it helps me when you can play more than one position,” Horton said. “When you can play corner, nickel and free safety, it makes my job easier. For us, we are experimenting with what works best with the player, how he can maximize his talents.

“We’re trying to give every guy on the team an opportunity to make the team. Sometimes, that may be at a different position. I’ll just use the analogy of Troy Brown of the New England Patriots. He was a wide receiver that played nickel in the game. (Former Cardinal) Roy Green went from All-Pro wide receiver to All-Pro safety. The more you can do, the better your chances of helping us win.”


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