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Tucker named defensive coordinator

Zac Jackson, Staff Writer


Last January, the Browns struck gold by hiring a young coordinator who was an Ohio native and had previous ties to the Browns.

This year, they're hoping to do the same.

Mel Tucker was hired as the new defensive coordinator Saturday morning, a day after the team announced Todd Grantham would not return for 2008.

Tucker, who turned 36 last week, is a Cleveland Heights native who spent the last three seasons coaching the Browns' defensive backs. He was Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator in 2004, and prior to that had coached three previous years with the Buckeyes and also at LSU and Miami-Ohio.

His knowledge of the environment, the organization and the personnel made him a strong candidate to be promoted from within.

"We are excited to have Mel as our defensive coordinator," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "He has a football plan, a life plan, coaches the fundamentals and relates well with the players. I believe he will be successful in this new role."

Tucker takes over a defense that ranked near the bottom of the NFL statistically last season after a poor start but played much better in the second half of the season. It's a similar situation to the one offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski inherited last January, and the Browns' offense finished among the top 10 in the league last fall.

Tucker will be especially familiar with a young but talented group of defensive backs. Safeties Sean Jones and Brodney Pool came on very strong at the end of '07, their first full season starting together, and rookie cornerbacks Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald showed promise for the future as well.

"I would like to thank Randy Lerner, Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel for the opportunity to be the defensive coordinator for my hometown team," Tucker said. "I'm looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead and I'm confident with hard work we can improve our defense. We have a great group of players on this team and my familiarity with them will be an asset."

Tucker received a two-year extension on his current contract and is under contract with the Browns through the 2010 season.