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Training Camp

Perrion Winfrey embracing 'all bite, no bark' approach in rookie season

Winfrey has dialed back his always-energized mindset and heightened his focus in his first NFL training camp


The energized version of Perrion Winfrey that Browns fans saw the day he was drafted has gone into a slumber — for now, at least.

Winfrey's introduction to Cleveland, for anyone who may need a reminder, was an electric

six-minute long introductory Zoom call with local reporters. Winfrey's enthusiastic answers (and barks) as he answered questions let everyone know what type of energy he was bringing as a defensive tackle.

"This is how I wake up – juiced up," Winfrey said on the call. "No coffee needed."

Now that Winfrey, a fourth-round selection at defensive tackle, is in the thick of his first training camp and learning how to acclimate to the NFL, he's bottled the energy up for the better.

"I don't feel like there's a need to be continuously barking or continuously talking," Winfrey said Tuesday in a much more relaxed tone. "Right now, I just have my head down, just working and trying to be the best player I can be every day."

Check out photos of players and coaches working throughout camp

Don't be mistaken — the energy is still inside Winfrey. 

He just plans to bring it out on game days the same way he did at Oklahoma, where he totaled six sacks in two seasons and became one of the top defensive tackle prospects of the 2022 class. He'll have his first taste of NFL action Friday in the Browns' preseason opener in Jacksonville and will likely be given a decent chunk of snaps as coaches continue to evaluate what he can do.

That's when his energy will be unleashed again.

"Just being out there and being able to go through a preseason game in the NFL is going to be exciting for sure," Winfrey said. "Preseason or not, I'm going to treat it like a regular game."

Away from the field and in team meetings, Winfrey has kept a level head and maintained his focus on learning everything he can about playbook assignments and adjusting to the NFL. His energy is much more subdued in those settings partly because of the mantra defensive coordinator Joe Woods has instilled to the defense: "All bite, no bark."

Winfrey uses meditation to channel that mindset. He's done it for the last three years and completes at least one session per day usually in the sauna or hot tub at the team facility. He also does another before falling asleep each night.

"It just helps me relax and helps me compartmentalize the things I need to do in my life," he said. "It helps me focus on the things that matter and the things that don't."

Winfrey has been slotted into second-team reps next to Tommy Togiai midway training camp, although his biggest play so far was against the offensive starters Sunday during a 2-minute drill period. 

Linemen weren't wearing pads — and tackling, as always, was off-limits — but he was credited with his first sack of training camp against Deshaun Watson. 

"It was cool," he said, "but I want to do it in the real game."

He'll certainly have chances to do that as a rookie if he continues to develop. Head coach Kevin Stefanski has already seen Winfrey grow and look more comfortable in the Browns' system as his knowledge of the defense has expanded.

"I go back to when we had him for nine weeks in the offseason, and he made strides there as he learned about our system and how we play," Stefanski said. "Then we brought the rookies in four days early. He made strides there. Even now, I think you will find him out here early with the coaches working on his craft. All of the young guys, they just need time to work on their craft. There is no secret and there is no shortcut to this thing."

Winfrey understands that patience is part of the growth. That's why he's dialed back the energy and replaced it with a higher level of concentration as he navigates through his first ever grind of training camp.

But come kickoff, he expects to re-awaken. 

"Once the season comes and I start to bring that juice back and make plays on the field," he said, "that's when I'll be back to doing all the antics."

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