Njoku, who’s entering his third season with the Browns, says Mayfield has made impressive strides since last offseason and is barely recognizable from the player he was as a rookie.
“It’s like night and day from the beginning of training camp last year to OTAs this year,” Njoku told host Steve Wyche. “The accuracy is constantly on point, consistently where it should be. I’m really excited for him.”
Njoku Says Leadership Ability Sets Mayfield Apart
Mayfield has firmly taken the reigns as the leader of the squad since he took over the starting role in an epic Week 3 comeback victory last season against the New York Jets.
Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, threw for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns during his rookie campaign. The Browns finished 7-8-1 and Mayfield set the record for touchdown passes by a rookie, which was previously held by Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson. Mayfield was also outstanding down the stretch as the Browns reeled off a five wins in their final seven games. He ranked third in touchdown passes (17), fourth in passer rating (108.4) and first in yards per attempt (8.86) among those with 200-plus passes.
But it was more than Mayfield’s stats that impressed Njoku. It was his demeanor and ability to control the huddle.
“He’s definitely known to be a leader and he’s a great leader at that,” Njoku said. “Last year during games at crucial times he stepped up. He was like, ‘OK guys, everybody take a breather, relax and let’s do this one play at a time.’ And we did just that. Everybody feeds off of that.”
Loaded Browns Looking to Spread the Field
Njoku — a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 246 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed — was taken in the first round by the Browns in 2017.
Last season he nearly doubled his production in the passing game from his rookie season, collecting 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns. Now with Odell Beckham Jr. in the mix in the passing game along with Jarvis Landry and second-year pass-catcher Antonio Callaway, Njoku anticipates more space to work on the field.
“It opens everything up for all of us,” Njoku said. “We help each other.”
But as Wyche pointed out, the Browns defense, the defensive line in particular, could be even scarier for Cleveland’s opponents to face. Myles Garrett headlines the group and is joined by Larry Ogunjobi, Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon, who joined the Browns via trade this offseason.
“We could be really dangerous this year,” Njoku said, pointing to Vernon in particular because both attended the University of Miami.
Cleveland Browns training camp opens up on July 25.
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