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Contested catches becoming Donovan Peoples-Jones’ specialty

Limited separation, high catch rate for the third year pro.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

While the Cleveland Browns 3-6 record is not what anyone is proud of, it doesn’t mean everything is going poorly for the team. Despite heavy boxes from defenses, the running game continues to thrive, and the passing attack has been better than many expected.

The trio of WR Amari Cooper, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones and TE David Njoku have provided solid weapons for QB Jacoby Brissett this season.

Peoples-Jones, in particular, is on pace for a career year. While many were hoping the former sixth-round pick would have a breakout in 2021, after a great training camp, it looks like they were a year too early.

In 2022, Peoples-Jones has already surpassed his career high in receptions (35) and is closing in on his receiving yards mark (516 now, 597 in 2021). While he doesn’t have any touchdowns, some of that is due to the lack of downfield shots and the rest is due to RB Nick Chubb leading the league in rushing touchdowns.

The former Michigan star is starting to put together a clear picture of what his calling card will be: Contested catches. While DPJ isn’t getting a lot of separation from defenders, he’s making catches none-the-less:

Thankfully, Cleveland has a route-running savant with Cooper and an athletic mismatch with Njoku but Peoples-Jones provides certainty for the quarterback. He’s one of the best at making catches this season, right up there with Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson and, his teammate, Cooper.

As the Browns prepare for their trip to face the Buffalo Bills in, potentially, difficult weather, Brissett will need to be able to rely on his receivers to make catches despite field conditions that could make separation difficult. Peoples-Jones has shown he can be that guy.

Next on the list for Cleveland’s third-year receiver is getting into the endzone and pushing toward his first 1,000-yard receiving season. If he can do that, he’s well on his way toward a contract extension in the near future.

Are you surprised DPJ isn’t getting separation? Are you surprised, despite that, he’s still making catches?