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Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah 'definitely ready' for big role in rookie season

The 2nd-round rookie’s first test vs. Kansas City couldn’t be much tougher

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah doesn't need to watch the tape to understand how difficult the opposing players will be in his first ever NFL regular season game.

Patrick Mahomes is the quarterback. Travis Kelce is at tight end. Tyreek Hill is at wide receiver.

The Chiefs are an offense loaded with All-Pro resumes and perennial Pro Bowlers and need no introductions for a player like Owusu-Koramoah, the second-round rookie LB who expects to have a "big role" in Week 1 in Kansas City.

"Every competitor wants to play against the best," he said Monday, "and that's what we're doing."

Owusu-Koramoah solidified himself as a rookie worthy of a big workload after showcasing his speed and impressive range throughout training camp and the preseason. That's what the Browns desired when they traded up seven spots to draft him No. 52 overall in the 2021 draft.

He provided his best evidence in the first preseason game, when he recorded a team-high eight tackles with one sack and three tackles for a loss. He showed the quickness and instincts necessary to halt rushing plays, prevent screen passes and be in position to make the stops a veteran linebacker should make.

But that was the preseason, and now Owusu-Koramoah will have a chance to prove he can keep up against the top competition in the NFL. He's ready to do it despite missing a chunk of time at the beginning of training camp on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and missing a few recent practices after he needed a few stitches in his forehead following a weight-room accident.

"He's doing a nice job," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Obviously, you know he had that delay there in the beginning (of training camp), but he made sure to get all that he could out of all of those walkthroughs. Then he had that injury in the weight room, but he has overcome that, as well. He's doing a nice job. He's continuing to work."

Check out exclusive photos from Monday's practice at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus

Owusu-Koramoah's biggest challenges Sunday likely will come with Mahomes and Kelce, one of the most dynamic duos in the NFL and two of the biggest reasons why the Chiefs have played in back-to-back Super Bowls. They've connected for 33 touchdowns over the last three seasons, by far the most among a quarterback and tight end in the league in that span.

Owusu-Koramoah has plenty of respect for both of them, but he's confident in his game, too. The Browns defense was rebuilt to challenge offenses as potent as the Chiefs, and they're counting on Owusu-Koramoah to be one of the difference-makers.

"It's not foreign to me to have some type of matchup as such," he said. " I'll be ready. As a team, we are looking forward to game planning correctly."

Owusu-Koramoah is well aware of the extra significance of the matchup for the Browns, who will return to Arrowhead Stadium for the rematch of their season-ending loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional playoff round last year. He "vividly" remembered watching the game when he was in Dallas to train for his college pro day, and he watched the tape even more once the Browns immersed themselves in preparations for Round 2.

Now, he's a possible candidate to start in one of the premier Week 1 games around the league. He hasn't been told by his coaches whether he'll start or not, but it's safe to assume he'll carry a significant role in the rotation after showing just how helpful his speed can be for the rest of the defense.

"It's up to the coaches and what they see and believe is best," he said. "It's not that important — as long as a I have a good role and make an impact.

"I'm definitely ready. We put in the work, and we put in the time so we will see what pays off."

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