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M.J. Emerson Jr. carries 'ultimate competitor' mindset into second NFL season

Emerson wasted no time establishing himself as a rookie, and he’s eager to pounce on a chance to build an even better season in his second year


M.J. Emerson Jr.'s rookie season was far better than most rookie cornerbacks who waited to be drafted on Day 2.

Emerson participated in 72 percent of the team's defensive snaps. He had the lowest completion percentage allowed in coverage compared to all Browns cornerbacks with only 50.1 percent. He also had 15 passes defended, tying with Denzel Ward for the team lead.

Emerson, a third-round pick in 2022, was fantastic, and he wants to be even better now that he's had a full taste of the NFL.

"This offseason, I made a lot of goals for the team, but also for myself, and I was just working towards those goals," Emerson said. "I see a lot of improvement, but there's still a lot of improvements to get done."

Check out photos of the team during the third day of Training Camp

Emerson, who stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 195 pounds, brought a strong and physical presence to the cornerback room. With Jim Schwartz as the Browns' new defensive coordinator, Emerson's size should give him even more opportunities to make plays as Schwartz's schemes heavily lean on more man coverage matchups

As a result, Emerson will have ample opportunities to demonstrate his strength, particularly at the line of scrimmage before a receiver has a chance to gain separation.

"I enjoy one-on-one matchups because it's just the coaches and your team," Emerson said. "They're trusting you to eliminate this guy. So that's what we live on. Cornerbacks — we want to eliminate our man and play fast. So, I love playing man-to-man. It's just me and you, and may the best man win."

Emerson is experiencing a greater sense of calm and feels that the game is slowing down for him compared to his rookie year. Last season, he gained confidence as opposing quarterbacks frequently tested his lack of NFL experience by throwing at him.

Perhaps those quarterbacks learned a lesson or two about how tough Emerson can be — he was no ordinary third-round cornerback.

And if they didn't, Emerson will keep welcoming the challenge.

"I'm a competitor, the ultimate competitor," he said. "I just want to do my part to help the team win, so doing my job is the main goal. I love when the quarterbacks target me."