The Cleveland Browns first game of the season is just days away and tight end David Njoku is ready to take on the Kansas City Chiefs.
Njoku sent a message with a social media post on Tuesday, signaling that game day is approaching.
“Ain’t no more talkin.. Let’s get it poppin. #Week1,” Njoku wrote.
Njoku is coming off a stellar camp and is expected to have a larger role in the Browns offense this season. He’s the No. 2 tight end on the Browns most recently released depth chart, leapfrogging Harrison Bryant. He’s technically behind Austin Hooper, but the two will likely play a large number of snaps together in Kevin Stefanski’s tight end-friendly system.
Njoku enters 2021 after a down season where he notched just 19 catches for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He added five catches for 66 yards in the postseason and improved as a blocker, which made him useful beyond catching the ball. His pass-blocking graded out at 76.5 on Pro Football Focus, higher than Hooper (59.3) and Bryant (68.8).
Njoku Seeking Long-Term Future in Cleveland
What will help Njoku is that he’s coming into the year with a fresh mindset and on better footing with the coaching staff. After a trade request that went nowhere last season, Njoku has changed agents and is aiming towards a long-term future with the Browns.
“What I can say is I am in a way [more] positive mindset, a lot more positive this year. Just playing for myself, playing for my teammates and playing for the team. It is a lot easier to work hard that way,” Njoku told reporters. “I’ve been here for four years, knocking on five. I don’t really know anything different. I’d like to stay here.”
The Browns have multiple players in need of extensions — from Baker Mayfield to Denzel Ward. Depending on what kind of year Njoku has, it might be unrealistic for the Browns would be able to keep him without a significant hometown discount. That being said, Njoku has put in the work and is impressing those around him.
“Any time you can limit distractions off the field, and that goes for anybody, you take care of business off the field and you’re able to come into this building and handle and do your job,” Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “David’s playing with the mentality that he’s trying to help our team out and that’s what we want with everybody.”
Browns Want Austin Hooper to Have Larger Role
The other part of the tight end equation for the Browns is Austin Hooper, who didn’t have the season that was expected out of him after signing a lucrative free agent deal with Cleveland. Hooper notched 46 catches for 435 yards and four touchdowns last season
“I do think his role can grow,” Stefanski told reporters. “He was very, very important to our success last season, and we are going to count on him in a variety of areas this year, as well.”
Hooper, Njoku and the Browns are six-point underdogs as they open up their season against the Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.