After a breakout year, last season was a major disappointment for Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku.
Njoku suffered a fractured wrist in Week 2 last season, putting him behind from the start. He battled back into the lineup in Week 14, but dropped a ball that turned into an interception, playing a part in him being a healthy scratch the next two weeks. He suited up for the Browns final game of the season, but played just four snaps.
In all, he had just five catches for 41 yards and one touchdown last season — a far cry of what was expected of him after a strong sophomore season, when he notched 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns.
But Njoku has all the tools to bounce back. The 29th overall pick in the 2017 draft is a physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and around 250 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed. The Browns saw that, executing Njoku’s fifth-year option this offseason, keeping him under contract in Cleveland for at least two more seasons.
David Njoku Thankful for Clean Slate With Browns
Njoku addressed his struggles with the Browns in a tweet on Monday and is thankful for the Browns new regime of Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry showing faith in him.
“I gotta admit I appreciate what last year taught me,” Njoku wrote. “A lot of adversity was added to the plate but I’m so thankful I went through it. Clean slate.. I’m ready.”
Browns first-year offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt shared some thoughts on Njoku during a conference calls with reporters last week, sharing some of the good impressions he has made so far.
“He has been excellent,” Van Pelt said. “We really enjoy him in the meetings. He’s a guy who speaks out. He’s a smart guy. He understands what we’re trying to get accomplished. He can answer the questions when you ask him. I am excited to get to know him. I know he is a talented guy.”
Browns TE Room Will be Competitive
The Browns bolstered their tight end depth in the offseason, signing former Falcons TE Austin Hooper to a lucrative deal and drafting Harrison Bryant in the fourth round out of Florida Atlantic.
The additions were key, as Stefanski loves his tight ends. As the Vikings offensive coordinator last season, he used multiple tight ends on a league-high 57 percent of the snaps. Van Pelt expects Njoku’s athleticism to make him a significant contributor to the offense.
“He is going to add to that tight end room,” Van Pelt said Wednesday in a Zoom call with local reporters. “There will be times we are out there with three tight end sets – that is part of this system – and to have him with the ability he has both athletically to play in line or get him out in space and get some matchup issues with safeties and linebackers covering him, I am excited to see what he has to offer.”
Stefanski had said previously that the team has big plans for Njoku
“I’m looking forward to working with him,” Stefanski said. “I think there’s an obvious skill set there. I think you can see it just in his physical ability.
“It’s a big year for David. I’ve explained that to him. He knows that. A lot of that is going to be up to him and the amount of work he puts into this. We have big plans for him, but it’s about, for him, coming back in the building and working and then ultimately being able to see if we can utilize him in a role that can take advantage of some of his skill set.”
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