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Greg Newsome II gaining confidence despite getting humbled and singing R&B

BEREA — If rookie cornerback Greg Newsome II can handle covering Jarvis Landry in the slot and being on an island with Donovan Peoples-Jones on the outside, some good-natured rookie initiation wasn’t going to intimidate the first-round pick out of Northwestern.

“I don’t know if you guys have seen. I was singing on Instagram,” Newsome said Tuesday. “I had to sing in front of the group, which is very fun.

“What did I sing? I sang a song by Anthony Hamilton. It’s called ‘Charlene.’”


Newsome’s repertoire continues to expand in his first NFL training camp. He estimated he spends 60 percent of his practice time at outside corner, where he’s competing with Greedy Williams for a starting spot, and 40 percent working in the slot. He moonlights as an R&B singer trying to hit the high notes and convey the pain of heartbreak.

“I’ve been doing the regular rookie things that we have to do, but they’ve been treating me with respect, I treat them with respect,” Newsome said of the veterans. “So there’s been a great relationship building between our position group.”

After opening camp with the second team, Newsome has worked in more with the starters as No. 1 cornerback Denzel Ward has missed three straight days with “soreness.” Newsome likes his progress and insists he’s not focused on being in the starting lineup Week 1.

“I really don’t care,” he said. “I’m just trying to get as best as I can and help the team in any way I can.

“Whether I start or not, whether I need to run down on kickoff, kick return, if I need to do punt return, anything, definitely just trying to affect the game in one of the three phases. I’ll definitely be ready.”


Newsome (6-foot, 192 pounds) was the No. 26 pick in April and brought the swagger required for his do-or-die position. The first couple of weeks of camp have tested and strengthened his self-assurance.

“Going against some of the best receivers in the NFL on this team is just going to grow my confidence every single day,” he said. “So getting to guard those guys and just getting feedback from coaches and other players is definitely helping.”

He said the receivers are making him “10 times better.”

“They say iron sharpens iron, so going against these guys every single day is not only going to make me a better player but make them better, as well,” Newsome said.

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The introduction to the NFL hasn’t been without hiccups.

“Every single day I’m having a humbling moment,” Newsome said. “We’re going against some of the best guys in the world, so every single day I get beat sometimes, so definitely every moment is humbling.”

Coach Kevin Stefanski called the humbling moments an “occupational hazard” for a defensive back.

“He is so diligent about his work, understanding his job, understanding his techniques and constantly working on them to fine-tune them,” Stefanski said. “That is part of being a rookie, and particularly at that position where you are going up against some really good players. Some vets have some really crafty moves that you are going to see. It is only going to make him better.”

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An example of forced humility came Sunday in the practice at FirstEnergy Stadium. The No. 2 offense went against the No. 1 defense in a two-minute drill, and Newsome was flagged for pass interference on Peoples-Jones that gave the offense a first down at the 1. It scored on the next play.

“You know as DBs, we’re never going to think it’s a penalty,” Newsome said. “But the coaching point is to play it through the ball and look back and just try to make a play on the ball instead of grabbing him down the stretch or whatever.

“So I got called for one, just get ready to play the next play.”

The coaches are cross-training Newsome in the slot after he was predominantly an outside corner at Northwestern, where he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior in 2020. He led the Big Ten with 10 passes defensed in six games and didn’t allow a touchdown.

Troy Hill is the No. 1 nickel but has the versatility to play outside.

“Knowing what the guys are doing inside is only going to help me when I’m moved outside, to see where my help’s coming from,” Newsome said. “So it’s definitely been valuable for me.”

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Hill told Newsome to trust his help when he’s inside, stick to his leverage and be patient vs. the shifty slot receivers.

“He is somebody who we certainly want to take a look at outside and inside because oftentimes you will end up inside even if you are playing outside corner,” Stefanski said. “He is doing a nice job, and we are just continuing to bring him along appropriately.”

Hill, who signed as a free agent in March, referred to Newsome as a “star in the making” last week and said he was excited to be part of his journey.

“To get some of that praise from one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the league is just amazing,” Newsome said. “I’ve still got a long way to go to get to that position, but that just shows that I came in and I was ready to work. I’m just trying to develop each and every day.”

The next step is the preseason, starting Saturday night in Jacksonville, Fla., against the Jaguars and rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pick.

“Definitely anxious to start playing games, just to showcase what I can do and showcase some of my talents out there,” Newsome said. “So definitely ready to go.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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