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Browns' Horton believes NFL hiring practice works

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Browns' Horton believes NFL hiring practice works

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Ray Horton doesn't believe his skin color played any role in him not being hired as an NFL head coach.

It just wasn't his time.

Introduced as Cleveland's new defensive coordinator on Tuesday, Horton said while he's ``disappointed'' that he didn't get a head coaching job after interviewing with several teams, he's grateful to have gone through the process and feels the league's Rooney Rule to promote minorities works despite contrary statistics.

Minority candidates were shut out of 15 coaching and top front-office jobs this offseason, a troubling disparity that led to criticism of the NFL's hiring practices. There are only four minority head coaches going into the 2013 season, the fewest since 2003, when the Rooney Rule was implemented.

Horton, however, feels he wasn't bypassed because he's African-American or because wears his hair in tight braids. There's no doubt he's got the credentials.

``I believe every NFL team owner is trying to get the best coach for their team,'' he said. ``I don't think anybody goes into it thinking, `I'm going to hire this guy because of `X' reason other than he's going to lead the team to victories. So from that standpoint, I respect the process. So does it (the Rooney Rule) work or not work? I think it worked because I think every NFL team this year hired a guy that they thought was going to lead them to victory. I don't think there was one owner that said, `I'm hiring this guy because I think he's going to run my program into the ground.' So does it work? Sure it works.''

Horton was one of the candidates who met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner before they hired Rob Chudzinski, who spent the past two seasons as Carolina's offensive coordinator. Horton noted that hiring offensive-minded coaches seemed to be this year's trend.

The 52-year-old, who played in 147 career games as a defensive back for Cincinnati and Dallas, remains hopeful he'll one day get his shot at being a head coach. But until that time arrives he won't be bitter and he's protesting against what appears to be an unequal system in a league where about 70 percent of the players are minorities.

``I wasn't disappointed at all for minorities,'' he said. ``I was disappointed for Ray Horton. ... I'm just disappointed because I have expectations. I have expectations for our team, for our defense. If you don't meet them, you're disappointed. I'm not mad. I'm not frustrated. Disappointment is the right adjective for me because you're disappointed and you move on.''

Horton, who spent the past two seasons as Arizona's defensive coordinator, can't wait to get his hands on a young Cleveland defense he hopes to mold into one of the league's best units.

After recently stating in a radio interview that he intended to switch the Browns from a 4-3 front to a 3-4, Horton refused to put any numerical label on the base scheme he'll use next season.

``We're going to look like an aggressive, forward attacking defense that has big men that can run and little men that can hit,'' he said. ``That's the most important thing to me - what do we look like, not what we line up in. We may be a 3-4 on one snap. We may be a 4-3 on another snap. I guarantee you we'll be a 5-2 sometimes, and we'll be a 4-4 sometimes. We are a multi-front, attacking defense, and that's the most important thing, not what player lines up where, how he stands, what stance he's in. Attacking, aggressive defense.''

Fine with Chudzinski, who envisions a Browns defense with ``guys flying around.''

``That style of defense, the multi-front, attacking defense is the defense that I looked at is the toughest to play against from an offensive perspective and the defense that we want to be here,'' Chudzinski said.

Under Horton, the Cardinals' defense ranked among the league leader in several statistical categories last season. Arizona was second in interceptions (22) and fourth in takeaways (33).

Horton has been breaking down game film as he evaluates Cleveland's defense and he's been impressed.

``I've got big men that can run, little men that can hit,'' he said, drawing laughter at the catchphrase he repeated several times. ``I love this team. I love the way it's constituted right now because they give effort. From the first game against Philadelphia all the way through to the last game against Pittsburgh, I don't see a dropoff of effort.

``If you can give me that for 16 weeks like they did, you don't need anything else.''

Horton said Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, known for his blitz-at-any-time style, has been a major influence on his life on and off the field.

``He treats every single person like they're the most important person in the room,'' Horton said of the Hall of Famer. ``It's a gift. Players love playing for coach LeBeau. That's the highest form of respect that your players love playing for you.''

Horton hopes to build that type of relationship with his players in Cleveland. He has already been contacted by a few, including linebacker and captain D'Qwell Jackson. Horton views trust as an essential component, and he wants the Browns to believe in him from the start.

``I'm sure they have some apprehension about `Who is this guy? What's he going to do? What's that mean to me?'' he said. ``I just keep going back to as long as you do your job well, nobody has an issue.''

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NOTES: Chudzinski added three more assistants to his staff, naming Bobby Babich assistant defensive backs coach, Daren Roberts defensive quality control coach and Shawn Mennenga special teams assistant. Babich spent the past two seasons as an assistant in Carolina with Chudzinski. Roberts was at West Virginia and Mennenga has been with the Browns since 2011. ... Chudzinski joked that former San Diego coach Norv Turner, Cleveland's new offensive coordinator, is getting used to the drastic weather change. ``I saw him out jogging the other day with his shirt off through Berea,'' Chudzinski cracked. ``He's excited to be here.'' ... Chudzinski has spoken by phone with quarterback Brandon Weeden and met Colt McCoy, who stopped at the facility for a visit on Monday. ... Chudzinski said LB Chris Gocong, who missed all of last season with a torn Achilles, is on track to return next season.

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS