Greg Newsome II wasn't afraid to admit he's feeling a few nerves ahead of his first game in a Browns uniform Saturday in Jacksonville.
Newsome, a 2021 first-round pick, has little to worry about based on what he's displayed so far in training camp. He's been one of the primary corners rotating between first- and second-team reps through the first 10 practices and has looked the part in all of his assignments.
But that doesn't mean Newsome won't feel some butterflies when he straps on the orange helmet and takes the field for his first NFL preseason game against the Jaguars.
"I'm definitely anxious to start playing games and just showcase what I can do and showcase some of my talents out there," he said before the Browns' 11th practice of training camp. "I think I've been doing well this camp."
Head coach Kevin Stefanski agrees and has seen Newsome make steady improvements since his first day of rookie minicamp last spring. The Browns believe Newsome can become a speedy shutdown corner over time, and Stefanski has been encouraged by how well Newsome has taken the loads of teaching he's been given.
"He's done a nice job," Stefanski said. "He's so diligent about his work, understanding his job and understanding his techniques. He's constantly working and fine-tuning. That's part of being a rookie, particularly at that position when you're going against good players and vets who have some crafty moves."
Check out photos from the eleventh day of Browns Camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus
Newsome said he's experienced humbling "Welcome to the NFL" moments multiple times in every practice so far in camp. No defensive back ever plays a perfect game or performs perfectly at practice, but he's definitely felt the significant jump in talent, speed and catching abilities in his first training camp.
A chunk of those moments have come when he's played against veteran receiver Jarvis Landry. The five-time Pro Bowler has lined up opposite from Newsome a handful of times so far and has wowed him with his route-running abilities, but Newsome has taken those moments in stride.
He knows they'll only make him better.
"We're going up against some of the best guys in the world," he said. "Every day, I get beat sometimes. Jarvis, his route running is some of the best in the game, so he's probably the guy that works me the most."
Newsome is in a battle with third-year CB Greedy Williams and the other corners on the Browns roster for the second starting spot next to top veteran Denzel Ward. Newsome has said since Day 1 of camp he's welcoming the competition and has used it as motivation to put more hours into studying the playbook, watching film and making the most of the steady amount of reps the Browns have given him so far.
It's also a reason why Newsome is invested in gaining experience in the slot, a position he played sparingly before reaching the NFL. He mainly thrived as an outside corner at Northwestern, where he led the Big Ten with 10 pass deflections and earned First Team All-Conference honors. He's currently taking about 60 percent of his practice reps outside and 40 percent on the inside in hopes of being a more versatile weapon in Cleveland.
"It's definitely valuable," Newsome said. "Knowing what the guys are doing inside is only going to help me when I move outside and know where my help is coming from."
The Browns don't need Newsome to immediately become a slot corner — that job is poised to belong to Troy Hill, who was signed as a free agent this offseason and ascended as one of the best slot players in the NFL last season.
They don't need Newsome to immediately become an every-down player on the outside, either. The Browns have given plenty of reps to Williams as he acclimates back to NFL speed following his season-ending shoulder nerve injury from 2020. Williams has frequently participated in team reps since minicamp and has earned plenty of praise from Stefanski on how well he's handled his rehab process.
So what does that mean for Newsome? It's still too soon to tell, and he's not in a rush to find an answer, either. He's ready for whatever challenges the Browns throw him.
The next big test arrives Saturday.
"As I stand, whether it is regarding starting or whatever, I don't know and really don't care," he said. "I'm just trying to get as best as I can and help the team any way I can. I will let Coach come out with the depth chart. Whatever he needs me to do, that is what I'll be willing to do."