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Jordan Elliott ready to 'step up to the plate'

Chris Kiffin wasn't afraid to pinpoint which defensive lineman he's most excited to see in 2021.

"I don't want to be that guy to sit here and sound super excited about everybody," Kiffin, the Browns' defensive line coach, said in a recent interview on Cleveland Browns Daily, "but I'm just telling you, the guy I'm most excited about is Jordan Elliott.

"He's going into that sophomore year everybody talks about and has made the most improvements from Year 1 to Year 2."

Elliott, a defensive tackle the Browns selected in the third round of the 2020 draft, wants to do all he can to make sure he proves his coach right.

"It's time for me to step up to the plate," Elliott said. "I need to take advantage of those opportunities. They're definitely going to be there."

The Browns and Elliott both believe a big second year could be ahead.

He's certainly motivated to get there after a rookie season full of learning how to maximize his talents at the NFL level. Elliott was the only Browns rookie to play in all 16 games last season, but he admitted he wasn't happy with his production: 15 tackles.

Those weren't the numbers he expected after registering 68 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and six sacks in his final two seasons at Missouri. With the Tigers, Elliott made a habit of breaking into the backfield and shutting down plays, but the NFL, as many rookies discover every year, presents a significant learning curve.

"It was a wake-up call for me," he said. "I understood the work, but I just couldn't apply it to game day. That's what it's about now. Just staying consistent about everything, on the field and off the field."

Check out exclusive photos of phase 3 of the offseason

To put himself in position for better production, Elliott said he dropped 10 pounds of weight over the offseason by trimming down his food portions in each meal and cutting snacks from his diet.

He now weighs 290 pounds, and he believes the extra speed has helped him refine his technique and increase his power coming out of the three-point stance.

"I've got a lot more explosiveness," he said. "I can unlock my hips and come out of them a lot easier. It's very beneficial for me to lose this weight and come in with more strength."

Elliott won't have a true setting to show off his improved power until training camp, but Kiffin has already affirmed he'll have a chance to prove himself among the top competition.

Elliott will have plenty of other players competing with him, though. Seven other defensive tackles are on the roster and vying for two starting positions, which have been vacated by the departures of Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi over the offseason.

Someone will have to step up, and Kiffin is eager to see if it can be Elliott.

"I'm expecting a big jump for him," Kiffin said. "With Richardson leaving the room, there will be opportunities for him. I'm super excited about him."

Elliott hears the eagerness from his coach as not only a voice of confidence but as a call to action. The Browns need to find someone who can find consistency on a defensive line that will feature Myles Garrett on one end and Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley on another.

That means whoever is in the interior won't be facing very many double-teams every game.

So defensive tackles with enough power and strength to work to win a steady flow of one-on-one battles could be in for a big season. That's why Elliott has modeled his offseason toward becoming an even more explosive player.

And that's why both Kiffin and Elliott believe big things could be ahead in 2021.

"Coach Kiffin has really been instilling what it means to be a D-lineman to me," he said. "I have to perform at a level they see fit and I see fit, … and that's an elite level."