BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns thought so highly of former University of Miami (Florida) tight end David Njoku that they traded back into the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft to select him with the No. 29 overall pick back in April.
Although the Browns believe in Njoku’s skills, he struggled with ball security Friday and fumbled away two passes in team competitions. Njoku failed to properly secure the football, and instead, defensive backs were able to pry it free during 11-on-11 competition.
Following practice, Browns coach Hue Jackson said Njoku must learn to “Hold onto the freaking ball,” and that message was received, loud and clear.
“He’s right,” Njoku said. “Obviously, they drafted me in the first round for a reason, to make plays, so I’ve just got to work that much harder in this practice this afternoon on holding onto it after every catch.
“That’s what it comes down to. Hold onto the ball and score touchdowns and make plays. That’s it.”
Njoku said that the two-fumble day was “not really me,” and instead, was “trying to change that and move on” as training camp continues with Day 5 of the on-field work.
“No, I’m not concerned,” Njoku said. “I’m just going to work that much harder, like I said, to hold onto the ball after every catch, tuck it and finish every play.
“Yeah, you have days like that where it’s just a lack of focus or whatever it is, but you’ve just got to bounce back as fast as possible and have a better practice the next day.”
A 6-foot-4, 245-pound native of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, Njoku spent two seasons with the Hurricanes, where he caught 64 passes for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns. The junior entered the professional ranks after turning 43 catches into 698 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016.
And Njoku is working hard at carrying on a tradition of success that former University of Miami tight ends have experienced in the NFL.
“Very important for them and myself,” Njoku said. “I love pushing myself to be the best I can be, and for everybody before me, Jeremy Shockey to Winslow, everybody to set that legacy, it’s very important for me to follow through.
“God put me here for a reason. I’m just trying to play hard and have fun doing it.”
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