BEREA, Ohio -- It has been said that for football players, the best ability is availability, but versatility certainly does not hurt, and for the Cleveland Browns, rookie defensive back Jabrill Peppers is that type of athlete.
A multi-faceted player at the University of Michigan, Peppers has been an impactful athlete for the Browns on defense and special teams, and put that ability on display during Monday’s practice.
“He can do some things,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “If he gets the ball in his hands, he is probably going to score because he has that kind of skill once the ball touches his hands. I was trying to explain to him in that situation, the game is over. Just get down.
“He was going to score. He was trying to go score. Game over, let’s protect the lead and that’s what we do. That is a teaching moment for him. He is growing and getting better every day. There have been questions about if he can play in the post. I think he is showing you he can play anywhere. I think he is a very dynamic player, and I am glad he is here.”
Peppers has never been one to shy away from contact, not especially when he played in all three phases of the game at Michigan, and has been a contributor both on defense and special teams throughout training camp and the first game of the preseason with the Browns.
During Monday’s practice, Peppers delivered a crushing hit to wide receiver Rannell Hall, then, broke up a pass over the middle of the field, and later, intercepted a throw in a full-contact 11-on-11 drill.
“Nothing got into them,” Jackson said. “I don’t think anything got into them. They practiced. I don’t think there is anything spectacular that got into them. They are just making plays. Somedays, it goes the offense’s way, and somedays, it goes the defense’s way. That is football. That is the way it works.”
Although Peppers delivered a crushing hit on Hall, the young wide receiver held onto the football on a play that could have drawn a 15-yard penalty for a hit on a defenseless receiver.
“That is football,” Jackson said. “You don’t want those, but they are going to happen. It is a live period. He was trying to get the ball out. There is no question. He wasn’t trying to hurt him. He was trying to tackle him and get him down. Sometimes, that is a reflex by players. It is okay.”
While Jackson wants to see his players take care of each other in practice, he was very happy to see Peppers and other players show up so often during the drills.
“Outstanding,” Jackson said. “I am very happy with where we are defensively and where we are going. I am happy in certain spots where we are offensively and where we are going because I have a vision, and I can see where we are headed.
“Watching Jabrill and watching these young players, even watching David Njoku making a play in the end zone, those are the things I think we possess and can do. That is what the young guys bring to our football team.”