Jabrill Peppers says there was no way he'd miss his first NFL training camp. But the Browns safety and first-round draft pick admitted it was indeed a relief when he signed his rookie contract this past weekend.
"It was very important," Peppers said Thursday. "I was going to be here no matter what, but it was definitely a great feeling, too, that both sides came to an agreement when they did."
Peppers will now gladly focus his attention on trying to earn a starting spot on a youth-laden defense. He'll also spend time working at kick/punt returner and in certain roles with the offense.
That is, of course, partly why the Browns tabbed the versatile former Michigan star with the 25th overall pick. Described by NFL.com's Lance Zierlein as the "ultimate Swiss Army knife," Peppers did it all for the Wolverines, playing safety, linebacker, returner and some running back in three seasons. He was also part of a Michigan team that returned the proud program back to its winning ways following almost a decade of struggles.
The Browns participate in the first day of training camp in Berea.
Asked how the Browns might use his talents, head coach Hue Jackson laughed and said "every which way I can."
"He's very smart, first off. He has been a sensational defensive addition for us. Very talented back there. Still growing," Jackson said. "There are some things that he still has to learn, but we all know that he has had some skill on the offensive side of the ball. I don't see any reason why we would stop him from doing something that he may be very good at."
Peppers shined during Cleveland's offseason workouts and was described by Jackson as an "energy bunny" on the field. He also showed flashes why the Browns hope he'll be blossom into an impact player for years to come.
To be certain, Peppers will focus on mastering safety and securing a role on Gregg Williams' versatile defense. But he won't blink if Jackson and the coaching staff need him to do more.
"That could mean millions of things so you guys will have to stay tuned to that," he said, laughing, "but whatever (Jackson) asks me to do I'm going to do to the best of my ability."