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#BrownsCamp Daily: Mike Priefer believes Jakeem Grant will 'transform our return game'

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Mike Priefer has always wished to coach a player with the kind of skill set as Jakeem Grant.

Grant, meanwhile, has always wanted to work with a coach with the kind insight and experience as Priefer.

Both of them have gotten their wish together in Cleveland. 

Grant, a 2021 All-Pro returner, is the player Priefer believes can ignite the Browns' return game in 2022. He signed with the Browns in free agency this offseason to the delight of Priefer, who's entering his third season as the Browns' special teams coordinator, and brings a loaded pedigree of big plays and top-notch instincts as both a punt and kick returner.

With Grant, Priefer expects the Browns to take a big jump from where they ranked around the league in returns last year — they finished 28th in the NFL with 7.2 yards per punt return last year and 21st with 20.6 yards per kick return.

"I have wanted to get Jakeem here the past couple of years," Priefer said. "He's been free, and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) went out and got him. I am really happy about that. I think that is going to transform our return game.

Grant is confident he'll live up to the expectations, and his resume shows his confidence is warranted.

He finished second last season only behind Baltimore's Devin Duvernay with 11.9 yards per punt return. On kick returns, Grant ranked 12th among returners with 23.4 yards per return. He's scored a punt or kick return touchdown in five of his six years in the NFL and had the longest punt return in the league last year when he ran back a 97-yard touchdown in Week 14 against the Packers. 

Grant thinks he can have his best year yet in Cleveland, partially because Priefer is his coach. 

On the day Grant arrived in Cleveland to sign his deal and officially join the Browns, Priefer had already pointed out something that could make him more efficient. 

He wanted Grant to carry the ball in his left arm, rather than his right. By doing so, Grant would have the ability to stiff arm defenders with his right arm and possibly gain a few extra yards — or shed tackles entirely. 

"(Priefer) is awesome," Grant said. "No coach had ever told me that, and now when I go back and look at it, he's absolutely right … With him critiquing things like that, that's going to take my game to the next level."

How has the project gone so far?

"I'm not going to lie, there's been some ups and downs," he said with a smile. "I love keeping it in my right hand because it just feels comfortable. Left-handed, it feels like I'm running slower, but in actuality, I'm not."

Speed and ball-handling aside, Priefer believes Grant's instincts are what makes him a great returner, and he had one significant player comparison as an example.

"Devin Hester, one of his strengths – he was one of the greatest of all time in my opinion – he had that tremendous vision like most great returners have," Priefer said. "I think Jakeem has that vision. He understands the game. He understands situational football. That is the element that he brings, along with his athletic ability."

Here's what else you might've missed from Day 10 in Berea.


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