It was Day 425 of his recovery from a serious knee injury that put a premature end to his collegiate career, significantly impacted his draft status and robbed him of his first season with an NFL team. The Browns defensive back’s motivation hasn’t wavered. If anything, it’s grown stronger as the finish line at the end of his long road to recovery is finally within sight.
Ekpre-Olomu is done telling those around him he’s in the “rehab” stage of his recovery. That’s an important step toward putting himself in the best possible position for success when offseason workouts begin in April.
“Now it's more about getting back my explosiveness and getting back into football shape and getting your muscles back to where you know you can go out there and perform five days a week,” Ekpre-Olomu said Tuesday. “The hardest part dealing with it is mental. You have to trust yourself. I'm doing everything I can to be comfortable when I'm actually on the field. Until you actually get on the field and do that stuff, you're not going to be comfortable.”
On-field workouts take up a big chunk of Ekpre-Olomu’s days. Now back in his native Los Angeles after spending an extra month with Cleveland’s training staff, Ekpre-Olomu is immersed in a training regiment that also includes an hour-plus of physical therapy, stretching, stability tests and even a little mixed martial arts.
Ekpre-Olomu doesn’t know how much he’ll be tasked to accomplish at offseason workouts and OTA’s. He just knows how much work he’s already put in to assure himself whatever it is, it will be so much more than he could do throughout the 2015 season.
“I'm sure they won't just throw me out there and tell me to go all out,” Ekpre-Olomu said. “I'm sure they're going to ease me into it. I'm honestly not sure of it. I just need to make sure I'm as ready as I can be.
“I don't want to let anyone down … I'm doing everything I can on my end and when that time comes, if I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go. If I'm not, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I am.”
The seventh-round selection out of Oregon never saw the field during his first season with the Browns, but the time he spent inside the facility with coaches and teammates was invaluable. He spent even more time than expected with Pro Bowl veteran
For Ekpre-Olomu, the time is at 425 days and counting to prove the Browns made the right decision to take a flier on him near the end of the 2015 NFL Draft.
“I'm as motivated as I've ever been,” Ekpre-Olomu said. “I don't think the injury ever changed any of my motivation. I've always been motivated to be a great player and play. That's what I've always played for, so nothing has changed that. Most people either have that or you don't. Some people feel satisfied but I don't think I ever will.”