BEREA, Ohio — Of course he did.
Jabrill Peppers talks when he is on the field. It is his way. It is not really trash-talking. More like pump-up talking. He does it to get himself going, does it to get his teammates going.
And, on cue, he did it Thursday afternoon, as the Giants engaged in a joint practice with the Browns. This was not the usual Peppers Pumping, though. He was a 2017 first-round draft pick of the Browns and spent his first two NFL seasons practicing on the fields adjacent to Lou Groza Drive. Peppers came to the Giants as a centerpiece of the mega-trade that sent Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns.
He is thrilled to be playing in his native New Jersey, but that does not mean Peppers has forgotten where he got his start in the NFL. He certainly has not forgotten the players he left behind.
That is why Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield not only saw Peppers, but also heard him.
“Me and Baker used to always go back and forth, just ball stuff,’’ Peppers said. “He tells me he’s going to go 80 percent. I tell him he can’t see over the line, just things like that. It’s all good ball, good talk.’’
It was an action-packed day for Peppers. He dipped under tackle Jack Conklin for what most likely would have been a sack in a game. He also applied pressure on Mayfield that would have resulted in a quarterback hit. In coverage, he battled with tight end David Njoku, another New Jersey product, and also a Browns 2017 first-round pick.
On one play, Peppers applied solid coverage, but the 6-foot-4 Njoku leaped and grabbed the ball over the 5-11 Peppers.
“I probably could have jumped a little higher or been a couple more inches taller, but it was a great ball, a great pitch and catch,’’ Peppers said. “That’s why we’re here, to get that work.’’
Njoku got the last word.
“Yeah, he said, ‘Just like old times,’’’ Peppers said. “That was funny. We were going back and forth, me and Baker, me and Njoku, so that’s been fun, as well.’’
Peppers said he spotted some familiar places as the Giants’ bus pulled into the Browns facility but, “I wouldn’t necessarily say any flashbacks.’’
It was Peppers and two draft picks (they turned into defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines) for Beckham in a trade that rocked both teams.
“I’m at peace with it,’’ Peppers said. “I love where I’m at. I think we’re building something special here, but I’m thankful for my time [with the Browns] as well. It taught me a lot of character, learned a lot of ball here, but I’m just focused on the future.’’
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