BEREA, Ohio -- Jabrill Peppers may have been a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2017 NFL Draft, but after going through the offseason training program with the veterans, he knows nothing is going to be handed to him in his first professional season.
As training camp continues at the team’s Berea training facility, Peppers is focused on showing the coaches he deserves playing time with the first-string defense.
“Everyone’s going to earn their spot,” Peppers said. “You’re not going to come in and start, no matter who you are, and I think that’s good. I like earning things and being rewarded for the hard work.
“I was never given anything in my whole life, so it’s no different than growing up. I’m just ready to get back to work. It was a long five weeks, and the season’s right around the corner, so I’m excited.”
Peppers spent the majority of the offseason program with the second-team defense, but believes there is an opportunity to close that gap enough over the next three weeks to earn a starting spot for the regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday, September 10.
“Everything is attainable,” Peppers said. “The best guy is going to play, no matter who that is. We’re a competitive bunch, and we’re going to compete, but at the end of the day, it’s all about winning. The best guy is going to be out there.”
On the way to a 1-15 record 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.
“Everyone is 0-0 right now,” Peppers said. “We just talk about a new attitude and buying into new coaching. Both the rookies and the vets, we all know things have to change, and we know what we have to do to change things, so that’s what we’re going to do. It’s as simple as that.
“Everything’s going to be about competition. Everything’s about winning. Win the meeting; win the walk-through; win the practice; win each and every play. It’s things like that, and you’ve got to take it personal to win. You’ve got to be a guy who hates losing more than he likes winning. I think we’re all like that.”
And that type of mindset is just fine with Peppers, who wants to be a part of the turnaround for a Browns franchise without an appearance in the playoffs since January of 2003 or a winning season since the 10-6 mark of 2007.
“You’ve got a lot of young guys who have the same goal in mind, same work ethic, attitude, and when you bring them all together, the camaraderie that’s formed is something special to see,” Peppers said. “Now, we’ve got a coach like Gregg Williams, who is going to bring the best out of everybody, so we’re definitely excited. We’re definitely ready to get to work and get this thing rolling.”
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