If HBO’s Hard Knockswas filmed in Berea this summer, there’s a good chance Cleveland Browns cornerback
For starters, he’s Cleveland born and bred. At Glenville High School he shut down wide receivers and showed blazing speed on the track team.
But it’s Adams’ determination – to play for the Browns, not just any NFL team – that makes his quest so compelling.
There are players who want to prove themselves. Then there’s Royce Adams.
The 26-year-old has been around the Browns’ facility so much this summer, you wonder if he has a tent setup in the parking lot.
“I’m so motivated right now, I have tunnel vision,” said Adams.
His “summer vacation” mornings begin at 7 a.m. He strolls down the sidewalk of his east side Bedford neighborhood with his pit bull, Brolly. He’s in the Browns’ cafeteria by 8 a.m., for breakfast, which consists of a western omelet and a plate of fruit. On Tuesday, it’s leg day for Adams. The lower body workout is calculated and intense. The weight room is followed by 20 minutes in both the cold and hot tubs.
Then it’s off to his old high school for more explosive training with his personal trainer and longtime football and track coach Robert Andrews. Using elastic bands to strengthen Adams’ core is the focus. A workout Sunday was so intense the Browns cornerback puked twice.
“I’ve always said the hardest practices I’ve ever had in any sport was when I used to run track in high school,” said Adams, who was one of the school’s top sprinters. “Coach Andrews pushes me to my absolute limit.”
Then, Adams is done for the day, right? Wrong.
He hops back in his car towards Berea for at least two hours of video review. His specific focus Tuesday will be on footwork. He’ll dissect his own from OTAs and minicamp and he’ll watch two cornerbacks he tried to model his game after – Darrelle Revis and his teammate
Don’t blame Adams for working this hard. He has a legitimate shot of suiting up in the brown and orange come September. The coaching staff clearly sees something in him.
Mike Pettine and Jim O’Neil were instrumental in bringing the 5-foot-10 corner to the New York Jets after a stint in the arena football league. His 2012 season ended abruptly in training camp because of a torn ACL. But in 2013, Adams was one of the last players cut by the Jets following their final preseason game.
“It was tough,” Adams said, recalling his conversation with Rex Ryan and Pettine. “It was an eye opener. It was really a blessing in disguise.”
Uncertainty clouded Adams during the entire 2013 season. Because of his prior ACL injury, teams weren’t exactly blowing up his cell phone. So he moved to New Jersey and double-dipped at a training center called Test Football Academy. In the mornings, Adams would conduct his own exhausting workouts. In the afternoon, the Purdue University alumn served as a trainer for high school kids looking to improve their skill set as defensive backs.
Then, this winter, essentially out of the blue, Adams phone did ring. It was Jim O’Neil on the line. His old coach from the Jets was now in his hometown of Cleveland, coordinating the Browns’ defense. O’Neil, Pettine and Ray Farmer wanted to fly in Adams for a workout. A contract was signed shortly thereafter.
“Now it’s on me, to do my part,” said Adams. “Now it’s on me, to take it on that next level and to prove our coaches right for believing in me.”
Adams may have a leg up in terms of his knowledge of the system and relationship with Pettine and O’Neil. But his quest to crack the 53-man roster will be anything but a cake walk. Sixteen other defensive backs join Adams in the most crowded position group on the roster.
One big play on special teams in the preseason could determine to Adams’ entire future. That’s why during June and July, he hasn’t stopped.
“I just want to make it, man,” said Adams. “I want to everything I can to help this team win. I’m from Cleveland. So it’s personal to me. Now it’s go time.”
Lights, camera, action. Royce Adams, this is your moment.