David Njoku has had a front-row seat to the Browns' offensive spectacles of the last three weeks.
Njoku, the Browns fourth-year tight end and 2017 first-round pick, has been recovering from a knee injury suffered in the season-opening game against Baltimore. His 246-pound, 6-foot-4 frame has been missed from Cleveland's arsenal of playmakers, but the Browns have still dominated defenses with their wide array of other offensive weapons.
This week, that group is closer to getting a boost. Njoku returned to practice Wednesday and is inching closer to making a return to game day. After nearly a month of watching from the sidelines, Njoku is preparing to do some damage of his own.
"It feels really good, and my body is fully healed now," he said. "As everyone else sees, we are making great progress. We're coming together as a team and fighting for each other, so week by week, we keep getting better."
When Njoku returns — and it remains to be seen whether that will be in time for Sunday's Week 5 game against the Indianapolis Colts — he'll be back in the tight end rotation with Austin Hooper, rookie Harrison Bryant and Stephen Carlson, who have accounted for 19 total receptions thus far and have caught touchdown passes inside the red zone in the last two games. Before his injury, Njoku, who has 10 career touchdowns and 1,116 receiving yards on 96 receptions, caught three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Indianapolis Colts
His return should provide an upgrade to the position group, which has delivered on the expectations coach Kevin Stefanski envisioned in the offseason.
"David brings his own skill set to the group," Stefanski said. "I think all of them are a little bit different, but David with his size and his ability to be in line and split out, we are excited to get him back out there."
Njoku's responsibilities will stretch beyond catching passes. The brunt of the offensive success thus far has revolved around the Browns' run game, which is currently first in the league in rushing yards per game (204.5) and rushing touchdowns (eight) and has been the catalyst of the franchise's best start to a season since 2001.
That success, however, is also a credit to the excellence of the offensive line and tight ends, which have combined to make one of the best blocking units in the league. Njoku is ready to share those responsibilities as well.
"I'm here to do whatever I can to help the team," he said. "That obviously includes blocking, it includes catching and includes all the extracurricular activities. I'm just here for the team."
Njoku is eager to pitch in after watching the offense carve its way through defenses during its three-game winning streak. The Browns have found a successful balance between their run game and passing attack, and both of those departments require strong tight ends.
The success, though, means even more to Njoku, who is one of six players from the Browns' roster from a winless 2017 season. Njoku was a rookie at the time, and he always looked forward to being a player on a team that changed the tide.
Cleveland has 12 games to prove its early-season success is no aberration, and Njoku is itching to strap on the pads and be a part of the fun.
"We've had a record that we have not had in a little while," Njoku said. "It's not easy being 3-1 in the NFL. We've picked it up each and every week. Kudos to the whole team, but there is a lot more work to be done."
The winning record has made Njoku even more impatient to get back to full action. He's seen up close how efficient the offense has been with its top playmakers, and each of them are capable of turning in a big game every Sunday.
Soon enough, Njoku will rejoin the group and start making contributions of his own.
"I have 100 percent motivation," he said. "I'm very excited to play again."