Former Eagle Gocong gets a rush playing in Browns' defense

Former Eagle Chris Gocong (left) takes on tackle Joe Thomas at Browns camp.
Former Eagle Chris Gocong (left) takes on tackle Joe Thomas at Browns camp.
Posted: August 25, 2010

BEREA, Ohio - Chris Gocong finally is going to get to do something that he seldom got to do in his four seasons with the Eagles.

Rush the passer.

"Every year, I would take my reps at it and they would have plans to do it," said Gocong, who was traded to the Browns in April along with cornerback Sheldon Brown for linebacker Alex Hall. "Then we'd get to the game and we never really got around to it. I wouldn't say it was disappointing, but it was frustrating."

The 6-2, 263-pound Gocong was a pass-rushing defensive end at Cal Poly, whom most scouts projected as a 3-4 rush linebacker in the NFL. But he was drafted by the Eagles in the third round of the '07 draft and converted into a run-stopping strongside linebacker in their 4-3 scheme.

Jim Johnson always talked about using Gocong as a blitzer, but that seldom happened, as evidenced by his four career sacks.

But there he was the other night, blowing through the middle on a blitz and hammering Rams quarterback A.J. Feeley just as he was throwing a pass. Feeley ended up spraining his thumb on the play.

"I was pretty much the run-stopper in Philly, and I came here and they said, 'Sic 'em.' So I'm happy,' he said.

Gocong is playing in the scheme that fits him best, a 3-4. The Browns have moved him inside because of his run-stopping ability. But he'll get plenty of opportunities to rush the passer.

"I think he's going to be one of our top players," Browns general manager Tom Heckert said. "This scheme is better for him. Most people think he's an outside 3-4 rusher, but I think he's going to be really, really good [inside]. He's so big and athletic. He's going to make a lot of plays for us. And we can use him on the outside and rush him. We didn't rush him hardly at all in Philly, for whatever reason. But he'll get the chance here. He's going to rush the passer."

Gocong is coming off a tough year with the Eagles. He was benched by defensive coordinator Sean McDermott late in the season and replaced by seventh-round rookie Moise Fokou.

"To go through that, to be starting for several years and then all of a sudden, to be sitting down, you feel like a rookie," he said. "I was on kickoffs and doing all of that stuff. Whatever. I took it with a grain of salt and tried to do my best running [on] kickoff [coverage] and doing kickoff returns, knowing my time was coming. And here it is."

Gocong thinks his benching had nothing to do with his play last season. "I didn't feel my play dropped off at all last year," he said.

He said the real reason behind his benching was the fact that his contract was up after the season.

"It was understood," he said. "I can't remember the last linebacker they extended. It was expected.

"At the end of the year, they made it clear they didn't want to re-up. So I figured I wouldn't be back. I got here and it's been great so far. I love the defense, love the city. The coaches have been great."

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