Rookie and first-round NFL Draft pick David Njoku grabs a lot headlines, but don't forget about Seth DeValve in the Browns tight ends room.
It's clear the second-year player has become a focal point in Cleveland's offense, taking reps with the first-team offense after catching two touchdowns on 10 receptions as a rookie.
"I said this at OTAs – he is an emerging player," Browns coach Hue Jackson said Sunday. "I really liked Seth coming out (of college). Last year, I think he would be the first to tell you with all of the injuries and the newness of the National Football League that it was tough."
Indeed, DeValve — a fourth-round pick who played mostly slot receiver at Princeton — got off to a slow start in 2016 in part because of a hamstring injury that nagged him throughout training camp. As the season went on, though, DeValve started coming into his own.
"I think you spend the majority of your rookie year finding your routine, finding your success routine," he said earlier this year.
"And once you find it, you kind of just want to stay with it. And the biggest difference is, I can stick with that routine from Day 1 this year and I'm in better shape. I'm stronger, I'm faster, I'm healthier and I know better what I'm doing on the field. So just getting in that routine, having that routine down from last year and just sticking to it, everything's gone a lot more smoothly."
That approach has paid dividends as DeValve continues to impress the coaching staff. And without Gary Barnidge, whom the Browns released in May after four seasons, DeValve, Njoku and Randall Telfer will be asked to step up in a big way this fall.
"It's been different without (Barnidge), but there have been a lot of opportunities for guys like me to step up and take that role or at least a big portion of that role," DeValve said Monday. "I feel that I'm ready to do it. I felt like moving on from last year, I still had a lot to show that I'm capable of. I'm starting to have the opportunity now to show what I can do, which is just what I'm coming out here to do each day."
So far, it's showing as the Browns enter Week 2 of camp.
"He hung in there and toward the end of the year, played some football and was really hungry to get better and come out his second year and make an impact," Jackson said.
"He is doing that. He is stronger. He is bigger. He works hard. He studies hard. He wants to make a contribution to our football team."