Get ready to see more big plays from David Njoku in 2022.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski basically said it himself Saturday before the Browns’ fourth practice of training camp, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise after the big extension the Browns gave Njoku, a 2017 first-round pick, in June. The 6-foot-4, 246-pound tight end is now the unquestionable TE1 for the Browns as he enters his sixth NFL season, and Stefanski believes Njoku will be able to take his game to another level now that more targets are certain to come his way.
“With David, I do think there will be more share of opportunities,” Stefanski said. “We think highly of David and think that he has a bright future ahead of him. He is a young player. I know it has been mentioned many times, but he is still a very young player. In terms of where that fits in the league and those type of things, I think for us, we are just trying to make sure we put our guys in position to succeed.”
Njoku, 26, has embraced all roles that come with the position and has only grown to love it even more over the last two seasons. Blocking, in particular, has been one area where Njoku has made substantial progress, and his improvements in an area that’s often an unnoticed part of the position has allowed him to be on the field more frequently — he played in 64 percent of snaps in 2021 compared to 48 percent in 2020.
Njoku has spent time in training camp working with offensive line coach Bill Callahan to become an even better blocker.
“During 2020 and going into 2021, I was blocking more than running routes,” Njoku said. “I had two options: I could either cry about it, or block. I chose to block, and now I love it.”
Now he’s at the top of the depth chart will be an every-down player. He’s still expected to grow, but he’s proven over the last two years that he’s capable of doing whatever the Browns ask for him.
“In this offense, we ask him to do a lot,” Browns tight ends coach T.C. McCartney said. “We ask him in pass protection, running downfield, running routes and then the run game and a bunch of different kinds of runs and a bunch of different schemes. I expect him to take the next step in all of those things really. He wants to be a great player, and I’m here to help him try and do that.”
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