One of the biggest concerns coming into the 2013 season was the Browns secondary. The Browns went out and bolstered their front seven, but kept the secondary pretty much status quo from 2012.

The known commodities were Joe Haden and T.J. Ward, but right cornerback Buster Skrine and free safety Tashaun Gipson were unproven. Chris Owens was signed as a free agent and Leon McFadden was drafted in the third round. Owens has played the slot, while McFadden has only played on special teams.

At the midpoint of the season, defensive coordinator Ray Horton admitted he has been pleasantly surprised with the secondary. The Browns pass defense is ranked sixth in the NFL, overall.

"Well, I think at the halfway point is a good time to measure where you're at, where you're going, where you hope to go to project forward," Horton said. "I would say our secondary has been outstanding and you can tell by, again, statistics of, remember, big plays, the turnovers, the amount of non-explosive big runs, because, really, they're not blamed for the run. But if they do their job well, there are no big runs. We've given up three runs, three running-back runs over 20 yards, which is amazing.

"The pass plays, there's none over 40 yards, so the secondary has exceeded my expectations by far there," he said. "They're doing a fantastic job. Sacks, that's a part of the defensive backs. We're sitting there I think at 26 (sacks) right now, which puts us third, and on pace for 52 if you multiply by two. I think at the halfway point, other than the win column, I'm pleased with where we're at. The fourth quarter is something we've got to learn to finish and I think that's a team concept. But at half point, I wish we had more wins. I think we're on the right track. I came in here talking about building a perennial winner on defense. I think we've got the blueprint, the footprint, the foundation to do that. The numbers tell me that the wins will come. There'll be more sacks, there'll be more turnovers and we'll get more wins."

Ward is second on the team with 65 tackles, two sacks and five passes broken up. He had a half sack last week and returned an interception for a touchdown against the Bills.

Rob Chudzinski likes what Ward brings to the defense.

"I think he brings a real attitude to our defense," Chudzinski said. "He's tough, he plays tough, he likes the physical part of the game and plays physically. That's what you need to do on defense. He's learned the system and really stepped into a leadership role in terms of on the back end and understanding what to do, getting guys lined up and doing all of the things you would want a safety to do."

Gipson is right behind Ward with 61 tackles, two interceptions and 10 passes broken up.

Chudzinski thinks Ward and Gipson are a fine duo at safety.

"From a mental standpoint, they both have a great understanding of what we're doing, and they're interchangeable in that way," he said. "T.J. is a little bit bigger and stronger; Tashaun can run a little bit better, but I think they're very interchangeable. You see them a lot, whether they're deep, whether they're down, whether they're playing two-deep, wherever they are, we play them at interchangeable positions."

Haden is having a good season. He has 34 tackles with 10 passes broken up. Most teams are throwing away from him and Skrine has played better in recent weeks. He has 45 tackles with an interception, 16 passes broken up and an interception.