BEREA, Ohio -- New Cleveland Browns safety Jabrill Peppers loves to win, but as much as he enjoys victory, there is the avoidance of the sting of losing that is at the forefront of his mind when he steps onto the football field.
A self-described hard worker, Peppers is ready to get to work in order to reverse the fortunes of a Browns franchise that has not had a winning season since 2007 and made only one trip to the playoffs since returning to the National Football League in 1999.
“I am more competitive than anything,” Peppers said. “I probably hate losing more than I like winning. I am a tenacious kid, very smart and I am a guy who is going to leave it all out there for the team and for the fans, as well.”
Last season, the Browns ranked near the bottom of the NFL in several statistical categories, most notably points, yards and rushing yards allowed.
On the field for the fourth-most plays in the NFL, 1,067, the Browns allowed 392.4 yards and 22.8 first downs per game, and surrendered third-down conversions on 45.1 percent of their opponents’ attempts in 2016.
Also, the Browns’ 26 sacks tied for the second fewest in the NFL last season.
“Whatever Coach Jackson’s plan is for me, I’m going to attack it 110 percent,” Peppers said. “It’s definitely going to start with being a returner and being in the defensive backfield. He mentioned some offense to me, as well. We are going to see how that goes.
“I’m going to take it day by day. Whatever I am asked to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. I just want to do whatever I can to help this team win ball games.”
In three years at Michigan, Peppers made 86 solo tackles and assisted on 33 other stops, including 18.5 for lost yardage with three sacks. Peppers intercepted one pass and defended 10 others in 12 games for the Wolverines during the 2016 season.
Additionally, Peppers accounted for 167 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries and a combined total of 570 return yards, as well as one punt-return score last fall.
“Every NFL team wants a great athlete, but it was more so that they wanted high-character guys who really love football,” Peppers said. “A lot of people say that they love football but have ulterior motives. Some just want the money.
“We up here, for sure, love football. I’m pretty sure that we stressed that to them and they saw that. They can tell that in our play that we are passionate about it. I think that was the main thing, being high-character guys who love football.”
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