Rookie linebacker Christian Kirksey intercepted a Johnny Manziel pass and returned it for a touchdown during Monday's practice.
BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns rookie linebacker Christian Kirksey finished Monday's training-camp practice on a positive note.
Late in the session, the first padded practice for the Browns during training camp, quarterback Johnny Manziel was flushed out of the pocket and looked over his left shoulder before snapping back right and throwing a pass to the sideline.
However, the pass never made it to the intended target as Kirksey jumped the route and took the ball back to the end zone.
"I was just at the right place at the right time," Kirksey said after practice. "Coach called a certain play and I just executed my job, and just did my responsibility. I just dropped back in my zone and kept giving ground and the ball came to me, so I just used my hands and grabbed it.
"Getting a ball picked from Johnny Manziel, or any other quarterback, just getting an interception period is showing that I'm making plays out there."
By corralling the interception, Kirksey caught the attention of the coaches with his on-field production.
"Similar with (cornerback Justin) Gilbert, he's flashed," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "I think he's got a ways to go, but he's certainly shown, especially today, why we took him where we did."
Linebackers coach Chuck Driesbach added, "We were real pleased from the get-go before he was even drafted. I know from the front office, they were in love with him, and we were in love with him. We were real pleased that we got him. He brings a skill set that is unusual because he can play inside and outside.
"I had somebody say to me they weren't sure how tough he was going to be, and we knew that he was going to be tough, and today, he showed it. He really did a good job with pad level and really had some good looks out there, and he had the interception so a good start for him. (He's) very smart."
Kirksey has also gained praise from his teammates, including veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby, who said the rookie defender plays with a little bit of an edge.
"When you come in as a rookie, you have to make sure you do things at full speed, just go out there with all your heart and try to make a play, so it's just something I'm trying to do, go out there and make a play for the team," Kirksey said.
"I've come along well, (am) just taking it day-by-day, just learning from some of the guys here, just learning the things I need to do, and that's something I'm always just building on, just with each practice getting better and better in certain areas. That's all I'm trying to do."
According to Kirksey part of getting better each and every day comes with working in adverse conditions. For Kirksey, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker, those adverse conditions include defending running backs and tight ends in one-on-one position drills.
"Whenever you're put in a hard position like that, it brings out the best of you," Kirksey said. "Nothing in the NFL is easy, so when you're in practice and you get a hard task like that, it actually makes you better because it enhance your moves and it makes you think on your feet. I enjoy that drill a lot."