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Kruger eager for lead role with Browns

Wednesday - 3/13/2013, 7:17pm  ET

FILE - In this jan. 6, 2013, file photo, Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger (99) looks up after sacking Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game in Baltimore. The Cleveland Browns reached agreement on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, with Kruger, who led the Ravens in sacks last season, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- An unexpected purge pushed Paul Kruger out of Baltimore, where he was just one of the guys.

Cleveland's early spending splurge in free agency landed with the Browns, who are counting on the linebacker to get to the quarterback and lead their restocked defense.

They hope he can be a star.

Cashing in on a breakout season with the Ravens, Kruger signed a five-year, $40 million contract on Wednesday with the Browns. The 27-year-old was a part-time player on one of the NFL's top defenses. He's now gone from a Super Bowl winner to a perennial loser -- the Browns have lost at least 11 games in each of the past five seasons. But that hardly matters to Kruger, who wants to prove last season was no fluke.

"Leaving Baltimore gives you the opportunity to step out of a couple shadows that you might have been in when you were there," Kruger said. "That's not a negative thing in any way. Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, those are older brothers to me, and they're guys who I text on a daily basis and I'm very close with.

"But, yeah, I definitely see that as an opportunity for me to be able to show that I can do a lot of things."

The Browns began free agency more than $47 million under the salary cap, and in the first 24 hours of the market being open, they signed Kruger, lineman Desmond Bryant and linebacker Quentin Groves, three players to begin the transformation from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 multifront defense under new coordinator Ray Horton.

Kruger finished with 13
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