The Browns have thrown a lot at Jabrill Peppers since he arrived at rookie minicamp, and the talented safety has responded the way they envisioned.
He enters Saturday's dress rehearsal preseason game against the Buccaneers as a first-team safety who also hopes to make an impact on kicks and punts.
Peppers sat down with ClevelandBrowns.com earlier in the week to reflect on what he's accomplished so far and where he sees this season going.
CB.com: Going into your third preseason game, what are you trying to accomplish in a setting that's the closest thing to a real game?
Peppers: Just keep getting better. Working on the little details, fine-tuning technique and just try to keep playing good ball.
CB.com: How would you describe your ascent as a rookie on the bottom of the depth chart at the start of training camp to starting at safety heading into this game?
Peppers: I just put the work in and try to continue to excel every day, learn from the older guys. Learn that we're all in this together but it's all a competition. It's a production business and I just try to produce as much as I can. As far as the process has been going, it's been going about how I thought it would in terms of the physical and mental toll it takes on you. I talked to a couple of guys who are in their second and third year, and they say the rookie year is the longest year because you get right out of camp, you've got to train for the Combine, you've got to train for Pro Day. Then you go on all the visits, flying everywhere, and then some teams have you work out for them. Then you have the draft and within a week you're in a rookie minicamp. It definitely was what I thought and I prepared my mind and body for what's to come. You've just got to take care of yourself, do the right modalities because it's a long season and you've got to play every down like it's your last. That's how I've been going about it.
CB.com: It seems like you've been handling the mental aspect of it pretty well, and they've been asking a lot out of you. What's that been like?
Peppers: It's nothing I'm not used to. It helps me really learn the playbook more, learn what other guys are doing so I know where my help is or how I can disguise something. I think it definitely helps you play faster when you know more than just of what's asked of you.
CB.com: This rookie class is starting to make an impact and is poised to have an impact at a lot of prominent positions. You've talked about this being a foundation going forward. What's it like to see this become a reality?
Peppers: We still have a long way to go. We know that we don't really buy into what people have to say about us both good or bad. We know what we have to do and we know how we have to do it. When you come in here, you're not looked at as a rookie. We need to contribute right away, in some way or some aspect. Handle things like you've been here before. We don't want to hear, 'He's a rookie, it's a rookie mistake.' We're all here for one thing, and that's to win. Be accountable and hold everyone accountable. That goes from the vets all the way down to the rookies. We don't really think of ourselves as rookies. We think of ourselves as we're going to go challenge and compete every day, get better every day, because they're counting on us to help win ballgames. I think our minds are definitely in the right light in that aspect but we've still got a long way to go.
CB.com: What's the adjustment been like going from college to pros when it comes to returning punts and kicks?
Peppers: I personally think returning in the NFL is kind of easier because the guys can't leave until the ball is punted. Most of the time the gunner is doubled. You're catching the ball with at least 5-10 yards of room as opposed to college where they can leave right away. You're catching it and sometimes you've got to make a move as you're catching it. It's definitely easier in that aspect because you have more room to operate and let your instincts take over. It's also the league. Guys are faster, you've got big guys that are more athletic than you've seen in college. It's a double-edged sword but I'll definitely take more space over just guys being bigger and athletic. The Big Ten has a lot of big and athletic guys so I'll definitely take the more space nine times out of 10. It's been going well. I feel as though I didn't fully capitalize on the punts I've had already. I feel as though I should have definitely had two touchdowns. That's still part of the adjustment period. Once guys continue to gel, feel each other out, feel how guys like to block, feel how I like to run, I definitely think the more we form that cohesiveness, the better the unit will be. We're not even reaching the surface yet. We're just getting better every day.
CB.com: You're mild-mannered off the field but a source of energy on it. Where does that come from and when do you flip the switch?
Peppers: It just sort of happens. It's for the love of the game. Everything I've been through, football is always my escape where I express myself and not care what people think of me. I'm just out there playing football, doing what I love to do. It's just a joy doing that. How can you be upset about doing something you love to do? This is my job now and that sounds crazy. I wouldn't have it any other way. I just try to get the guys around me riled up if practice is moving a little slow and things like that. Come game time, we're always ready to go, so we're all like that. That's just how I take my approach.