Photo by: Dave Spano
The brightest of those gems in the Cleveland Browns win over the Jacksonville Jaguars last Saturday was linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who looked more like a 10-year veteran than a rookie playing the entire game in intense Florida heat within weeks of dealing with Covid-19.
JOK was noticeable on seemingly every play, including one sack and a jarring hit on a screen pass when his eye-opening pursuit was on full display. In the matter of one game, JOK went from a potential situational player in backing up Anthony Walker, Sione Takitaki, Mack Wilson and Jason Phillips to a player that needs to be on the field on most snaps.
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The performance was reminiscent of another rookie preseason debut in 2018 against the New York Giants. Quarterback Baker Mayfield stepped onto the field in New Jersey and immediately looked like a player in control of the situation, making reads and throws not normal for most rookies.
JOK had “that” look about him. It was interesting to watch is pre-snap movements. Most rookies would align in one spot and wait for the snap. JOK was constantly moving (side to side and up to the line of scrimmage and back), anticipating plays and acting quickly as action unfolded. There were times when he was waiving a teammate to move into place.
Those are the actions of a leader in the making. It’s obvious why Browns GM Andrew Berry moved up in the second round to select JOK out of Notre Dame.
Two other rookies were noticeable – safety Richard LeCounte III of Georgia and running back Demetric Felton of UCLA. LeCounte was sidelined part of last season after a dirt bike accident. His draft stock, which was on the rise, dropped to the point that the Browns selected him in the fifth round.
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LeCounte showed the range needed to play single-high, once roaming to the right of the field to break up a pass. He also intercepted a Hail Mary pass in the first half.
Felton is a small back in the mold of ex-Brown Eric Metcalf. His speed was attractive to Berry, who realizes the need to increase the pace of the passing game. Felton is a candidate for playing time in the slot or as an option for Mayfield out of the backfield.
Other players to perform well were offensive lineman Michael Dunn, who’s battling Nick Harris, Drew Forbes and others to be a part of the interior rotation at guard, second-year receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and rookie cornerback Greg Newsome II. Peoples-Jones was quarterback Case Keenum’s favorite target, and Newsome held up well in limited action.
The Browns next game is on Sunday, August 22 against the New York Giants in Cleveland, 1pm game time.