David Njoku had some drops for the Cleveland Browns on Monday
When the Cleveland Browns signed Austin Hooper, the first question centered around what it would mean for David Njoku. The former 2017 first-round pick from Miami has been the starter for the past few seasons in Cleveland but struggled to get on the field last year after an injury early on.
For whatever reason, Njoku seemed to reside in Freddie Kitchen’s doghouse. Now with a new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, that seemed as though it would be in the past — even with the signing of Hooper.
Stefanski is known for using a two tight end set, which means Njoku should still see the field plenty. Perhaps that’s why he retracted his previous trade demand as he vowed to be “all-in” just ahead of training camp. The problem is, he’s now starting camp out on the wrong foot.
Njoku was a player who caught reporters’ eyes for the wrong reasons. He lined up wrong on one play which went along with his two drops — including one on the very first pass of the day.
"“The first play of the first team drill in pads was a short incompletion to Njoku in traffic. Mayfield came back to him quickly, and Njoku dropped a pass on a corner route. He also had a high pass from Mayfield go off his hands along the sideline” — Scott Petrak, Browns Zone"
This coupled with the team’s desire to force-feed rookie Harrison Bryant added up to a rough day for Njoku who suddenly finds himself back in a familiar place.
Having said that, the conditions on Monday were awful. The ground was wet from rain that lasted the majority of the weekend and continued throughout the team’s practice. That had to have played a part in Njoku’s issues. He was also not alone as other players struggled, including Baker Mayfield who overthrew a wide-open Odell Beckham, Jr.
There’s still plenty of time until the season begins and the Browns can still work out these kinks. It was the first practice in pads, which means sloppiness should have been expected. Njoku, however, can’t afford to have too many of those sloppy days.