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David Njoku ready to excel with key role in Browns tight ends room

David Njoku has put just about everything from the 2019 season behind him.

After catching a touchdown in Week 1, Njoku's season went through a series of unexpected turns full of injuries and stints on the inactive list. He ended the season with career-low numbers — five receptions for 41 yards and the lone Week 1 touchdown.

"I'm excited to finally play again," Njoku said Tuesday in a video call with local reporters. "I'm excited to be a Cleveland Brown."

Check out photos from the fourth day of Browns Camp

At 6-foot-4 and 246 pounds and carrying a massive 87-inch wingspan, Njoku has one of the most athletic bodies on the Browns, who drafted him with a first-round pick in 2017. The Browns believe Njoku has yet to hit his full potential, and he's been looking to take a leap since a career-best season in 2018 when he caught 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns.

Njoku, however, is in position to shine in his fourth season in Cleveland. Tight ends play an integral role in the offensive schemes from coach Kevin Stefanski, who used multiple-tight end sets more than any other coach in 2019 as an offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings.

Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry believes the setup for Njoku is perfect.

"We think David can be a big part of where we are trying to go as a team this year and that we think he has an important role to play for this roster and for this team," Berry said. "I think he can have a fantastic year."

The talent in the tight end room significantly grew this offseason with the addition of Austin Hooper, a four-year NFL veteran expected to share a big role with Njoku in Week 1.

Hooper, who caught 75 passes last season with the Atlanta Falcons and has 16 career touchdowns, has a reliable set of hands that should pair well on the other side of the line from Njoku. Handling Njoku's physical prowess was already a tall task for defensive opponents.

With Hooper, however, Njoku's big-play opportunities should grow even more.

"Hoop's a great person," Njoku said. "Him and I connected rather quickly. We're always together and hanging out. He's a real great dude, and we're excited to do this together. We're excited to be side by side and really attack this year."

Browns tight ends coach Drew Petzing has been impressed with how Njoku has stepped up in virtual team meetings in the offseason and, more recently, team practices to ask questions and establish a relationship with some of the newer faces in the tight ends group.

"He has been great on the field in terms of interacting with the other tight ends, interacting with me on a daily basis in terms of asking questions, saying 'Hey, how did you think this route was? What are we going to do on this combination?'" Petzing said. "I have seen nothing but really impressive engagement. I think he is a guy that a lot of guys on this team respect and really enjoy being around, and you can tell why. He has a great personality, and from my experience, that is really all I have seen."

The tools and talent are in place for Njoku to rebound with a big season. The Browns' new schemes are well-designed for Njoku's skills and position, and with a new season ahead of him, Njoku is starting fresh.

After a season of struggles and injuries, Njoku can't wait for that first snap.

"I'm excited to be here," Njoku said, "and I'm ready to win."

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