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Browns rookies show off potential, but must 'earn the right to be in that locker room'

It was hard not to, at the very least, be intrigued by what the future could hold for the Browns on an overcast Friday afternoon in Berea.

Of course, such is the case for all 32 teams across the league this time of year as Cleveland opened rookie minicamp, welcoming a promising rookie class that includes three first-round NFL Draft picks in defensive end Myles Garrett, safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku.

The Browns, who enter their second season under head coach Hue Jackson and a retooled front office led by executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, hope the trio will play a key role in helping Cleveland form a nucleus of young talent.

That potential was on full display during Friday's practice, whether it was Garrett — the freakishly athletic No. 1 overall pick — bending the edge or Njoku — a former national champion high jumper — bounding down the field or former Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer zipping balls over the middle.

But potential, Jackson warned, is just that.

"We have a long way to go — I caution all of you," Jackson said Friday after the session. "We have a long way to go with some very talented players. I won't run from that. They are talented. It's our job to coach them up to where they need to be so they can contribute to our football team."

That process starts by indoctrinating them into a culture that Jackson described last week as strong as it's been in two seasons. From Garrett to the last undrafted free agent on the roster, Jackson said the rookies will have to meet certain expectations.

"What I am trying to do right now is to get them to understand the coaching that is here and what they are going to come into and truly have them understand that they are just a piece of the puzzle and that they have to come in and truly embrace the veteran guys and understand how they do it," he said.

"In order to do that, we're going to kind and indoctrinate the next three days and try to give them an idea what it is going to be like when the other guys are here because they have to earn the right to be in that locker room."

The Browns rookies won't join their veteran counterparts until May 23, which marks the first OTA practice of the offseason. In that span, they'll have time to acclimate themselves to the rigors -- both on and off the field -- of professional football.

"I don't care who it is, whether it's Myles Garrett or the last guy we drafted," Jackson said. "They have to be able to do that because that's the only way the locker room is going to accept them now.

"They have to show and have their talent and ability show on this practice field and in the meeting rooms in order for those guys to accept them," he continued. "I think that will happen."

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