The number of interceptions recorded by Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden last year can be found in the middle of a bagel. And if he had snagged the five he dropped, he is convinced, he would have been voted into the Pro Bowl.
Haden has been the most impressive defensive player in camp. He has been one step ahead of the offense throughout. He has consistently jumped routes for knock-aways and picks.
Haden realized after last season he could not prove himself worthy of being taken seventh overall in 2010 if he didn't become more opportunistic. "[DB coach Tim Hauck] told me, 'You're a great corner, but when those balls come your way, you have to make those plays,' " Haden said. "I have to make the catch when I have the chance. The five interceptions I dropped last year hit me right in my two hands. I worked extra, extra, extra hard in the offseason on my off technique. That's given me a chance to look and see everything."
The uncertainty at the other CB spot heightens the importance of Haden emerging as a shut-down corner. Veteran Sheldon Brown is set to start, but he struggled last season against speed receivers. He could be spelled more often by Dimitri Patterson and Buster Skrine, who has been particularly impressive in camp. It would help if Haden racked up some interceptions.
"We talked with Joe about that," coach Pat Shurmur said. "You get what you emphasize, and if it shows up in practice, that gives you the best chance of it showing up in games."
Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSSportsNFLCLE throughout the season with on-site updates from CBSSports.com RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.