BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson said he would use rookie defensive back Jabrill Peppers “every which way I can” when he addressed the media on the eve of training camp at the team’s Berea headquarters Wednesday.
And that is just fine with Peppers, who is ready to embrace any role given to him by the coaching staff.
“I’m just doing what I’m asked to do,” Peppers said. “That could mean millions of things, so you guys just have to stay tuned for that. Whatever he asks me to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”
The versatile Peppers promises that despite having a multitude of roles, he will not be distracted by whatever workload he is asked to hold down during training camp, and subsequently, the season.
“Most things are going to come after practice,” Peppers said. “I might have a couple plays or a series in practice, but it’ll be predominantly defense."
In three years at the University of 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.
Coupled with his productivity, Peppers’ versatility made him an impactful player in all three phases of the game, and that led to his being a finalist in the voting for the 2016 Heisman Memorial Trophy, the biggest individual award in college football.
“Oh, I fit in very well,” Peppers said of the defense. “Most of the things Coach Gregg (Williams) is asking me to do, that’s right up my alley.
“The main thing is taking the ball away and making tackles, so you’ve got to be able to do both. That’s definitely attainable.”
In addition to his defense and serving in multiple roles for the offense under coach Jim Harbaugh, which resulted in him gaining 167 yards and scoring three touchdowns on 27 carries, Peppers accounted for a combined total of 570 return yards, as well as one punt-return score last fall.
Over his three-year run at Michigan, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound native of East Orange, New Jersey returned 18 kickoffs for 483 yards, an average of 17.9 per attempt, and 39 punts for 510 yards. Peppers averaged 25.8 yards per punt return as a junior.
“I’m a pretty good offensive player as well,” Peppers said. “I don’t really toot my own horn or anything, but I think I can be productive.
“Just playing football gives me a sense of excitement. Growing up, I did play a little bit of everything, tried to be as well-rounded as possible. One of my Pop Warner coaches said, ‘Be a guy that they have a hard time taking off the field because you’re so multi-faceted,’ and I definitely took that to heart. If they don’t want to play me here, they can try me out here, and I’ll show them what I can do there. I wouldn’t get bored. I get my excitement just being out there.”
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