The three Super Bowl rings rest on a corner of Ray Horton's desk. They are at once inconspicuous -- the exclusive jewelry is hardly the first thing you notice when you walk into his office -- yet unavoidable. Once your eyes make contact with them it's hard not to stop and stare.

You are aware throughout the duration of the conversation as Horton outlines his philosophy and goals in hopes of taking a Cleveland Browns defense from good to great that the bling is close enough to touch and if the sun catches those diamonds just right your retina might be endangered.

For all that Horton accomplished revamping Arizona's defense as a coordinator there the past two years it is those rings and his years as a prized apprenticed to defensive guru Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh that will resonate loudest in these parts.

These Cleveland fans are fixated on the hated Steelers with Horton a part of two of their record six Lombardi Trophies as an assistant coach and these Browns players don't need to be sold on Horton's Accomplishments with the tangible proof sitting in his office. If this perpetually rebuilding franchise is ever to compete again it will have to do so in a most difficult AFC North that includes the reigning Super Bowl champs in Baltimore the always-tough Steelers and a Bengals team that is seeking a third straight playoff berth.

This is the only division in football with two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks -- Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger -- a fact Horton is acutely aware of.

The standard here is obvious. If you want to even reach the playoffs in the AFC North it will likely require a Super Bowl-caliber club and the Steelers Ravens and more recently Bengals have all traditionally been defined by their menacing defenses. That's the rarified air Horton is seeking and it's part of what attracted him to Cleveland after the Cardinals declined to name him head coach (he had several other head coaching interviews as well).

"You talk about (the rings) some because that's what you want" said Horton who should he have the success I expect will be a head coach himself in short order. "But really what I do talk about is Paul Kruger (a pass rusher signed away from the champion Ravens) because he was just there.

"When you get there you understand and if you haven't been there you don't understand it. So you talk about certain experienced and you go 'Isn't that right Paul.' And Paul shakes his head 'Yeah that's right.' They don't know and if haven't been there you don't know but it lends credence that when you do talk about getting there that I can turn to Paul."

Horton has a strong playing career of his own to cull upon a former second-round pick who played 10 years as a defensive back including two Super Bowl appearance and one title with Dallas.

He began his coaching career in 1994 with Washington -- Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner hired him to join his Redskins staff after Horton had played for Turner's teams in Dallas -- and after coaching defensive backs in Cincinnati and Detroit Horton began his tutelage under LeBeau the master in 2004.

The Steelers were always a top-10 defense while he was there and ranked first overall three times with Horton seen as the eventual heir apparent to the ageless LeBeau who may still be running Pittsburgh's defense three years from now at this rate. So in 2011 Horton made the decision to take the Arizona defensive coordinator job and he rapidly transformed that sad-sack bunch to the point where in 2011 the Cardinals led the NFL in opposing passer rating (71.2) interception percentage ranked second in third-down defense third in red-zone defense and fourth in takeaways.

"Ray was a young coach when I hired him and I've known him" Turner said "and with the type of person he is and the way he thinks you knew he was going to be a good coach. And with the experienced he's had along the way and the good people he's worked with and the experience in Pittsburgh it's fun to be with him now and see how's he grown. He's an outstanding football coach."

Turner's offense which lacks the overall individual talent and skill that Horton's unit has is getting all it can handle during this camp from the defense. Horton works hard to conceal his intentions disguising blitzes moving people around trying to confuse the quarterback before he attacks him.