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Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah ready to ramp up role after return from ankle injury

The Browns are continuing to work Owusu-Koramoah back into their defense after he returned from an ankle injury

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is ready to ramp up his participation in the defense after returning from an ankle injury last week in New England.

Owusu-Koramoah, a second-round rookie linebacker, recorded four tackles and played on 21 defensive snaps and two special teams plays last week in the Browns' loss to the Patriots. The workload — 31 percent of total snaps — was less than the 80-90 percent total he had been given prior to suffering his injury in Week 6, but now that he's gotten another full game under him, he's ready to take on more with the defense.

"I felt good out there when I was out there," he said Thursday. "Tried to execute my job the best I can. When you think about those things, it will go well."

The Browns defense has certainly been looking forward to having Owusu-Koramoah back in full capacity after benefitting from his uptick in production before the injury. 

He emerged as one of the top defensive players in the first six weeks of the season and was among the Browns' tackling leaders with 29 tackles as well as four passes defensed and one forced fumble. His speed was a difference-maker in how the Browns approached their opponents every week and was missed during his three-game absence.

Now, they're hoping to bring him back closer to a more complete role with the defense this week against the Lions.

"We feel like he's a little bit healthier," defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "We'll let him go and see what he can do."

The talents of Owusu-Koramoah should match up well against the offensive tendencies of Detroit, which has heavily relied on its running backs and tight ends to fuel the offense. Second-year running back D'Andre Swift leads the team in rushing attempts (123) and is second in targets (63) behind tight end T.J. Hockenson, who leads the team with 65 targets and 448 receiving yards.

The onus of stopping a RB-TE duo largely falls on the linebacker position, and it certainly helps when one of them is a speedy, versatile player like Owusu-Koramoah.

"They love their running backs and tight ends," he said. "They are playmakers for them. (They'll run) a lot of 13 personnel and things like that, so we're looking to correct, shift and adjust to their strengths."

He specifically highlighted Hockenson as the top player he's seen from the Lions on film so far, and it's a safe bet to assume he’s spent plenty of additional time studying how the tight end has been used in the offense this season.

"He's a versatile player," Owusu-Koramoah said. "He's the most solid guy they've got in my eyes as far as my scouting, but we're looking to do things necessary to stop him."

The Browns defense can't afford to have any more performances the rest of the season similar to the 45-7 result last Sunday in New England. 

The group, however, is confident it won't happen, and one reason for it is the return of Owusu-Koramoah. He's proven to be a tackling machine through just seven career games, and as he continues to get better, so will the Browns.

"Each and every day, we're working to improve," he said. "That's always been the goal."

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