BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns have not been worried about overburdening rookie safety Jabrill Peppers throughout training camp.
Instead, the Browns have trusted Peppers with multiple responsibilities in the defensive backfield, as well as on special teams, where he has served as a punt and kickoff returner in the lead up to his first professional season.
“I think he is a good football player,” Browns special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor said. “I think when he was born, there was probably a football right next to him. It is just an innate ability for him. He understands and his football intelligence is extremely high.”
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.
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.
“He has done very well,” Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. “He has adapted very well. He has played really defensively every position but one that I might end up doing with him later on down the line. You might see him at middle linebacker, too, at times.
“He is a football player. He can play football. He has been a joy to be around, too. He has been really focused in the meetings. He has been really focused in practice. He is starting to take advantage of a few snaps with guys who are going to be kept in the league. Every day is an interview now. If we have a setback before we ever come out here, then they will stand by me and wait until it starts getting right again.”
In his 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.
And Peppers is starting to find a rhythm in the return game, which Tabor feels will help the Browns immensely.
“He is pretty dynamic at it,” Tabor said. “I still think it is a learning process with him. Just like the other night, it was a good learning moment when he made the fair catch and still had some room because it is different. It is different in the NFL than it is in college. In college football, those guys on the interior can go downfield right away.
“In the NFL, technically you can’t go down until the ball is punted with the exception of the gunner. A high hang like that, his clock was probably going off like, ‘They are probably going to be here,’ because that is what he is used to. That is just something that we are working on breaking. He has a chance to be a good football player.”
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