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News & Notes: Greg Newsome II sees becoming 'vocal leader' as next step after productive rookie year

Newsome was one of the biggest factors in helping the defense become one of the league’s best in 2021 and will look to use his voice to help stabilize the group in future seasons

Greg Newsome II left his exit interviews with coaches Monday with one clear goal he's hoping to achieve for his second NFL season: become a vocal leader.

Newsome, a 2021 first-round pick who delivered a quality rookie season, is ready to assume the role after a year in which he proved he can cover some of the top receivers in the league. He began his career as a Week 1 starter in the Browns' secondary and showed throughout the year that he already has the instincts and knowledge to be a difference-maker in Cleveland for years to come.

Now, the Browns are asking him to use his voice and help others, and Newsome is all in.

"I think that next step for me is trying to become more of a leader," he said. "I've had those qualities this whole time. You can't become a leader until you show guys how you lead yourself and how you attack every single day. I think I've proven to my teammates that I'm going to come in here and work."

Newsome finished the season third on the Browns with nine pass breakups and recorded 37 tackles, and his steady performances helped the Browns fulfill their goal of maintaining a depth-filled secondary capable of limiting some of the league's best pass games. 

The strong play of the secondary was one of the reasons why the Browns defense finished the year fifth in the league in total defense, marking just the third time since 1970 that the team has finished in the top five and the club's highest finish since 1987. The unit also finished fifth in pass defense, the highest finish Cleveland has achieved since 2011.

Leadership, however, was a part of the success on that side of the ball. CB Denzel Ward and DE Myles Garrett, two other first-round picks, have established themselves as two of the biggest leaders that have helped build the unit into the consistent force it became in 2021.

The group might have another vocal leader next year with Newsome.

"I think my next step is to become a more vocal leader," he said. "When I see things that aren't right, speak out and give my teammates my mind sometimes. That's my next role and my next goal for next season."

Chubb takes pride in spot on rushing leaderboard

For the second time in his career, RB Nick Chubb finished second on the NFL's rushing leaderboard.

Chubb accumulated 1,259 rushing yards this season despite missing three games and was among the league leaders with 5.5 yards per carry. A first-place finish obviously would've been tremendous for Chubb, but Indianapolis' Jonathan Taylor — who played in all 17 games and led the league in rushing attempts — took home that title with 1,811 rushing yards.

Chubb, though, still has plenty of pride for his spot on the leaderboard, and he commended the men in front of him first when he was asked what the position meant to him.

"That says a lot about our team and about our offensive line," Chubb said. "Those guys work hard for us up front. They block a lot of big guys and have stacked boxes that they still plug their way through, get to the second level and hit the linebackers and block defensive linemen very well. It's a team effort getting second. It's not first, so it's not the best, but it's definitely something being through everything that we have been through this year."

Asked about whether a rushing title is still in the back of his mind, Chubb delivered the response fans and teammates have come to expect and embrace from the five-year veteran.

"If it happens, it happens," he said. "I'm just going to keep doing what I do."

JOK appreciates growth within defensive systems

Second-round rookie LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah said he appreciated how Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods tapped into his strengths to give him his best shot of producing in his first NFL season.

The Browns have spoken highly of the speed and instincts of 'JOK' before they drafted him from Notre Dame at 52nd overall, and they certainly appeared to make the most of those talents in his 14 games — Owusu-Koramoah was second on the Browns with 76 tackles and totaled four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and three tackles for a loss.

"(Woods) really tried to key in on my strengths just in terms of the versatility that he saw on the film during college," Owusu-Koramoah said. "He really kind of tried to replicate as much as he could with that kind of position and the type of scheme that I was definitely getting well at or really progressing at."

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