Browns coach, players react to Paul Kruger being cut from team

Paul Kruger #99 of the Cleveland Browns looks on prior to the start of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Paul Kruger #99 of the Cleveland Browns looks on prior to the start of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

BEREA, Ohio – With the release of cornerback K’waun Williams on Monday the Cleveland Browns have whittled their team to a 75-man roster required on Tuesday.

But it was the release earlier of veteran starter Paul Kruger that most surprised teammates.

Kruger’s release was described Monday afternoon by head coach Hue Jackson as “an organizational decision. It’s what we thought it best to do moving forward.”

Kruger, an outside linebacker, had been with the Browns since 2013 when he was signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Ravens.

In 2014, he lead the team with 11 sacks, fifth most in the team’s history.

His 2015 season was unremarkable and in the Browns last pre-season game against Tampa he recorded no sacks and only two assists on tackles.

His release leaves the team with very little experience at the outside linebacker position.

“We have got to coach what we have,” said Jackson following Monday’s practice, explaining that he did not want to elaborate on the decision to release Kruger.

“We let people go because there is a performance that we want, not saying it’s just him. I’m saying everybody, and I think when you let players go now you give them a chance to catch on at other places.” added Jackson, concluding, “the right thing to do is to move forward and move on. I can’t worry about perceptions what people think. Our team is getting ready for a game against Chicago.”

Kruger released a statement on his twitter account Monday that read:

Exactly how the Browns will fill the starting position is not clear.

Emmanuel Ogbah, who can play the position, said Kruger’s dismissal came as a shock to him and everyone in the locker room, saying he is ready to do whatever the team wants from him.

“At the end of the day I think that’s surprising to all of us to see him go because he is someone who is close to so many of us especially as an outside linebacker he was a big brother to many of us, it was shocking but for these guys at the end of the day its a business and something that you know is out of your control,” said Nate Orchard.

“I wouldn’t say it really shook the locker room it’s just that you have got to be a pro, you know things like this happen all the time you always see guys that are expected to be on the team it’s just upstairs it goes a different way you know what I’m saying,” said veteran cornerback Joe Haden who called Kruger one of his best friends on the team.

Outside of the Browns headquarters questions have arisen over whether the move to release Kruger was performance based or if the team was trying to reduce its salary cap and move forward with younger players.

“We lost a good player we lost a really good player in Paul that was productive in the league but like we said, our coach came in and told us it’s all about winning. It’s all about next man up, opportunities and you have just got to be able to make plays. I mean it’s just a thing that you guys have got to step up and it’s just showing that no matter who you are it’s about winning, it’s about making plays it’s about results,” said Haden.

Within the Browns headquarters the explanation centered more on performance. But without a veteran presence on what seems like a porous, inexperienced defense, young players are going to have to step up.

Rookie outside linebacker Joe Schobert, the Browns’ 4th round pick this year, says he is optimistic.

“I think it’s a very positive vibe in the facility I think everybody is looking for this year to be a kind of change 2016 will be an exciting year and I don’t think its a season to write off I think we will surprise a lot of people,” said Schobert.

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