The Cleveland Browns selected linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft with the idea that he would be a disruptive playmaker.
That plan is still in play, of course, although it may take a little while longer for it to become a reality.
Owusu-Koramoah missed the first 10 days of training camp after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. While he was still able to attend meetings virtually, there is no replacing actual practice time for a rookie who is just learning what it takes to be an NFL player.
So it did not come as a major surprise on Thursday to hear Owusu-Koramoah admit that he is still trying to catch up with the rest of the defense (quotes via a team-provided transcript):
“I thought I was up to speed when I first came back – I did the walkthroughs and I ran through the plays in my mind and ran through the plays on the white board – but like I told the media a couple games back, there is nothing really like those in-game or in-practice reps to be able to simulate exactly how it feels to be out there and to have other guys coming at you ready to block you, trying to execute and being able to process things in a split second. I am not too far back and I am not far back at all in my mind, but those things do come with experience.”
One thing working in Owusu-Koramoah’s favor is that head coach Kevin Stefanski is planning to let the majority of the team’s starters sit out Saturday night’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That should give Owusu-Koramoah ample opportunity to get some actual game reps, which even if they are against the Jaguars in an exhibition game, should prove beneficial.
Even though he has fallen behind a bit, Owusu-Koramoah is still doing everything he can to catch up, Stefanski said on Thursday via a team-provided transcript:
“He is working really hard to get caught up, and he worked hard while he was out of the building to make sure that he was ready to hit the ground running. He is a young player. He is a rookie. He is learning. He is making mistakes, and then you have to correct them and get better. He is going to make mistakes Saturday night. We get that. Hopefully, he makes them at 100 miles an hour and learns from them. He is working hard to make sure that he is ready to go.”
It is obviously disappointing that Owusu-Koramoah missed those early practices, especially if that missed practice ends up costing him some playing time early in the season while he is still acclimating himself to the game.
But the Browns selected Owusu-Koramoah with the idea that he will be a playmaker for several years to come, not just for the Week 1 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, and nothing that has happened in training camp has changed that.
It just might take a little longer than everyone involved originally planned.