Greg Newsome II hasn't been heard from much in his first two NFL games, and that's exactly what you want from a rookie cornerback.
Newsome has held his own while dealing with only a handful of passes in his direction. His one slip-up — a 27-yard pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win over the Texans — was quickly forgotten, as Newsome made a key pass breakup shortly thereafter to force a late Texans punt.
Newsome has shown exactly what the Browns expected when they made him the No. 26 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he'll be looking to do the same Sunday when Cleveland hosts Chicago at FirstEnergy Stadium.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with Newsome as he wrapped up his final practice of the week.
CB.com: You're two games into your first NFL season, and now Week 3 pits you against your hometown team. What's your mindset entering a game like this?
Newsome: It's how I approach every single week. That's just to get better every single week, get 1 percent better. I think this season I've been progressing pretty well and I just hope to keep that upward track and not take a step back this week.
CB.com: You got any memories of the Chicago Bears as a kid?
Newsome: Man, I was there with Devin Hester and all of those guys. It's definitely going to be fun playing my hometown this week.
CB.com: What's been the biggest difference for you between the preseason and regular season?
Newsome: Honestly the biggest difference is snap count. I was getting 80-90 snaps in college and the NFL is around 60. The games go by a little faster. It's an offensive league, so it goes a little faster. Every guy is good in the NFL. In college, you can maybe find a weak link. In the NFL, there's not a weak link anywhere on the field and anyone can get the ball, so that's a big difference, too.
CB.com: One thing coaches say about you is you never make the same mistake twice. That was evident in last week's game after your pass interference penalty. How proud were you to come back from that?
Newsome: Man, I was super proud. Whenever I give something up or have a pass interference, it hits me the wrong way. I don't like messing up. I knew if they came back to me, I was definitely going to make the team proud and get a stop right there. I felt like if I would have gotten that stop earlier, we would have been in a different scenario later in the game. That's just something I'm always doing. Whenever I see something and make a mistake, don't let it happen twice.
CB.com: Are you surprised you haven't been targeted more?
Newsome: For sure, I'm definitely a little surprised. I know it will definitely come soon. I've just got to stay prepared and stay ready. Coach (Joe) Woods and B-Lynch (Brandon Lynch) and Coach (Jeff) Howard have been doing a great job putting me in situations where I can learn and grow early on. My confidence is through the roof right now. I'm definitely ready when that opportunity comes because I know eventually it will come where they target me a lot.
CB.com: Defensively as a whole, what's been the emphasis this week after an up and down performance against the Texans?
Newsome: Just to find our rhythm and trust each other. This is a new group. We have a three starters from last year on this starting defense, so eight new guys. Trust isn't built over one day. It's not built in a week, it's not built in two weeks. We're trying to expedite that process and realize we trust each other. If we all do our individual job then we'll be successful because we've got a lot of great players on this team. We've all got to work together in unison. When we do that, I think we'll definitely be an elite defense.
CB.com: Being one of those new guys, was it easier to come into a defense full of new players rather than an established one?
Newsome: I definitely think it's a lot easier when most of the defense, guys like John Johnson III, who are veteran players are new as well and learning with me. It's definitely a lot easier like that. I've felt like from Day 1, these guys here have helped me every single day. I was a new guy early but it really didn't feel like that. I kind of felt like I belonged and I was a part of the family right away.
CB.com: Were there some things fans might not have seen or noticed that got better from Game 1 to Game 2?
Newsome: That second half, I feel like we played really well. We did some great things. First and second down, we're doing amazing. Stopping the run, we're doing amazing. Our front seven is doing amazing and the safeties are coming in to fill. On those third downs, it's something we're really preaching on getting better on. I think we've been making some positive strides. We've made some great plays, our rush and coverage is working together. Maybe not too many people see it, but everyone sees the third downs because that's when you get off the field, and that's been our weak point. That's something we're definitely preaching this week to get better at.
CB.com: Are the guys coming to you more this week because of your history with Justin Fields?
Newsome: Yeah, most definitely. I faced him twice in the last two years. I know him pretty well. He's a great young player just like me. He's going to be amazing in this league. I definitely can't wait to go up against him and I can't wait to see him succeed in this league.
CB.com: Any differences between what he did at Ohio State and what he's being asked to do in Chicago?
Newsome: It's his first start, so we really haven't seen too much from him. I'm sure they'll incorporate some of those things. I see that he can still throw the ball 70 yards on a dime, he can still run the football. He has a lot of those "it" factor qualities in his game, so it will definitely be exciting to see him out there.
CB.com: What's the biggest responsibility for a corner when a quarterback can run and extend plays?
Newsome: Keep your eyes true and you may have to cover twice. Sometimes when there's not such a mobile quarterback, you know after the first break point you'll pretty much be good to look back and play the ball. Against a guy who can get out of the pocket, that means you might have to cover twice. Maybe he ran a comeback and now he's going to go and run something deeper. A guy who's electric like that, you've got to be able to cover twice and keep your eyes straight.
CB.com: You played your first regular season home game last Sunday and then were in the community to celebrate the opening of a new high-quality synthetic turf field at Shaw High on Tuesday. What's it been like embracing your new hometown?
Newsome: It's been amazing. They embraced me as soon as I got drafted, so it's only right I embrace this city the way they did to me. Everyone has treated me with the utmost respect. They're doing an amazing job. I'm definitely here to give back to the community. They've been showing me so much love since I got drafted and that's the least I can do for this community.