There's an old cliche about the difference a year makes.

That saying could not be more true for Joe Haden.

During training camp of 2012 there were rumors abounding that Haden would be suspended by the NFL for substance abuse. The rumors were confirmed after the opening loss to the Eagles and Haden sat out the next four games due to a league imposed sanction for performance enhancing substances.

"It was a humbling experience and one of the lowest points in my life" Haden admitted after Friday's practice.

Fast forward to the present and Haden is a newlywed and poised to have a breakout year.

"Everything seems to be on the up and up and things are turning out for the better."

Early in the team scrimmage Friday Haden stepped in front of Josh Gordon and intercepted Brandon Weeden's pass and streaked down the sideline for a touchdown.

"I just jumped the route."

Besides the suspension last year Haden missed another game with an oblique injury later in the season. All in all the Browns lost all five games when Haden didn't play. Despite only playing in 11 games he still finished with 51 tackles three interceptions and 10 passes broken up. His interception tied for the team lead.

Chudzinski said he wasn't worried about the past when he started with the Browns.

“I took the approach from early on that everybody has a fresh start" he said. "Regardless of what was said of him I was not going to listen to any of that. I wanted for us and our staff to make our own conclusions on evaluating guys. Joe is a guy that I do feel is critical to be a leader and show the maturity level that you would expect out of a guy that is coming into the time of his career that he is at.”

Haden said he appreciates the clean slate.

"The coaches respect my play and said it's all about my play on the field" he said. "It's a fresh start with coach Chud and he told me he wants me to be a leader."

Chudzinski is counting on Haden being one of the leaders not only on defense but on the team.

“Joe has really stepped up as a leader has stepped up as a professional" he said. "Joe wants to focus on improving and being more consistent and I see that in his approach. I think he has done a great job in that way and I’m expecting him to keep getting better and better.”

Haden really likes the defense that Horton is employing.

"He just said to go out and do your thing" he said. "He believes in me coach Chud believes in me. It really feels good.

"I'm comfortable (in the defense) and when you're confident you can perform well."

Chudzinski thinks the sky is the limit for Haden.

“He has potential and that means he has ability" he said. "If he continues to develop and work on his knowledge details and drive then I think he has the ability to fill that potential.”

Haden has expectations of being an elite cornerback in the NFL which by his definition is a top five player. He was asked if he feels he's an elite cornerback and if he will make the Pro Bowl this year.