BEREA - There are some things no one should do to Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown.
Receivers shouldn't think that the 11-year veteran can no longer react quick enough to close on a square out and break up a pass. Big mistake.
Reporters shouldn't question whether he's thinking about retirement at 33, which is considered old for a player at his position.
The Associated Press
Cleveland Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown (24) intercepts a pass from Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer in front of wide receiver Juron Criner (84) during the fourth quarter of their game on Sunday in Oakland, Calif. Brown, 33, isn’t slowing down late in his career.
Brown might be on the back nine of his career, but he hasn't booked any tee times for next fall when the 2013 football season begins. He figures someone will give him another chance, whether it's with the Browns or elsewhere.
"I've been too old for the last five years, if you know what I mean," Brown said. "Ronde Barber must be ancient because he's still playing and it's like his 17th season. You're talking about me at year 11, and you have a guy like that and he's still making plays, so what are you comparing it to?"
Barber, 37, is actually in his 16th season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played cornerback the first 15 seasons before switching to free safety this year.
There was media conjecture prior to this season that Brown might be ready to make the move to safety, where quick, nimble feet aren't quite as important as they are at cornerback. Brown never bought into that thinking, and coach Pat Shurmur was there with him.
If Brown's performance in the 20-17 win over the Oakland Raiders is an indication, he might indeed have a few more years remaining at cornerback. Being targeted by Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer throughout, Brown broke up four passes and had an interception in the fourth quarter that proved crucial in the win.
Brown challenges the belief that cornerbacks can't be effective beyond 30. When it was mentioned that former Browns cornerbacks Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield didn't play much beyond 30, Brown was quick to point out the era in which they played the 1980s.
"Technology, medicines and the way of training; all that stuff has changed," Brown said. "We don't have two-a-days anymore. You're not comparing apples to apples when you're making these assumptions."
The changes in practice rules have had a big impact on player longevity. Two-a-day practices in training camp have been curtailed to a precious few. Teams are allowed to practice in full pads just 14 times during the season.
"If you asked me today, 'Sheldon if there were two padded practices a days, would you still be playing?' I would say, 'Absolutely I'd still be playing, but it would get to play only eight games a season.' "
Brown often relies on guile to win assignments. He's not going to finish first in many foot races, but he knows that proper technique and intelligence are a winning combination.
In a win over the Bengals earlier this season, Brown returned a fourth-quarter interception for a touchdown that sealed the outcome. Brown read the slot receiver running to the flat, which tipped him to a curl or slant by the number one receiver. Brown jumped the slant and had an easy pick.
"He's made impact plays for us," Shurmur said. "I think he gets opportunities. He's had three interceptions, all of which ended with points for us. He's kind of a steady guy. They know what their strengths and limitations are, and they learn to play within the scheme. Behind all that, Sheldon's a pro."
With a possible changing of the guard at coach and general manager, Brown knows he might be able to find another home next season.
"I think if (general manager) Tom Heckert goes somewhere, he might give me a call," Brown said.