Reporting Matt Leon
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By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Special teams could play a key role in Sunday’s Eagles/Browns game and one of Cleveland’s top special teams players is a name familiar to Philadelphia football fans.
Ray Ventrone was a standout defensive back for the Villanova Wildcats and he is now in his seventh season in the NFL, fourth in Cleveland. The 29-year-old, who also serves as a back-up safety in Cleveland, is looking forward to getting the 2012 season started.
“The opener is always an exciting time in the season,” Ventrone tells KYW Newsradio. “You know you’ve worked all offseason, all these months, lifting weights, OTA’s and training camp. So we’re definitely excited to get the season started.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Ray Ventrone:
Now the Browns and the Eagles played just two weeks ago in the third game of the preseason, Eagles winning 27-10, also in Cleveland. But Ventrone thinks you can’t take too much from that game.
“I think in the preseason, the main thing is you want to play fast. I think coordinators and coaches want to see younger guys play fast and a lot of times the schemes are vanilla. Especially since we open up with Philly. I don’t think us or them were going to show a lot in that third game. So hopefully we bring our ‘A’ game and we are ready to play come Sunday.”
Ventrone is by no means the only Brown with a Philadelphia-area connection, as there are several former Eagles on the roster.
“For me personally, in our defensive backfield, we have a few guys that played for Philly in the past – Sheldon Brown – corner, Dmitri Patterson who plays corner and nickel for us. Their insight has helped us, as far as watching films on their receivers, trying to get a beat on things they like to do, tendencies, things like that. So I think that will help us in the secondary, at least.”
When he’s out covering kicks and punts, Ventrone will have to contain a couple of rookie returners for the Eagles in Brandon Boykin and Damaris Johnson.
“I think the Eagles are real good on special teams, overall. And I think that these two returners are capable of being really good. They definitely showed some explosiveness in the preseason. Boykin’s a really explosive player and can take it to the house at any time.”
Prior to his time with the Browns, Ventrone played for the New England Patriots and also spent some time with the New York Jets.
Eagles and Browns kick-off at 1:00pm on Sunday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.