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David Njoku grateful wasn’t blinded, is able to play after getting burned in fire

BEREA — David Njoku sat at his locker Friday and welcomed reporters. Two weeks after being burned in a harrowing fire, he was ready to talk.

“When it happened, my eyes were open, so I saw everything and I really should have been blinded,” the 27-year-old tight end said. “So luckily I’m not. I give all the glory to God.”

Njoku didn’t want to get into details about the accident, which occurred at his home Sept. 29. The burns are visible on his face and right hand.

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“I got burned by fire. Leave it at that,” he said. “It was a bonfire accident, you know what I mean? Trying to have a nice, little chill Friday, ended up exploding when I lit it up. It happens.”

Njoku practiced after sitting out Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. He was listed as questionable on the official injury report but is expected to play Sunday vs. the 49ers, just as he did against the Ravens, less than 48 hours after sustaining the severe burns.

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“He’s doing well. Looked good,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “Obviously just be careful over the next 48 hours, but I’m feeling good about Dave (for Sunday).”

Njoku wore a mask over his entire face as he arrived to the Ravens game, then kept as much of it covered as possible during warmups. He posted a couple of pictures on Instagram on Wednesday, showing the effects of the fire on his face.

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“I’ve been getting a lot of messages from other burn victims and nurses that have burn victims, and they were telling me how everybody feels embarrassed to show whatever,” he said, “so I wanted just to come out forth and show myself so everyone feels a little bit better about themselves. End of the day things heal.”

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As scary as the situation was, Njoku said he’s doing well emotionally.

“The fact that I’m still breathing, I still got my vision and everything, I mentally feel great,” he said.

Njoku had his best game of the season against the Ravens, catching six passes for 46 yards. In four games, he has 16 for 138 without a touchdown.

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“It was interesting. I’m just going to leave it right there,” he said when asked how difficult it was to play in that game.

The burns were fresh and the helmet couldn’t have felt good, especially when it would move around. Yet he played through the pain and plans to again vs. the 49ers.

“The way I see it, all the pain and sufferings from training in the offseason is far worse than any of this,” he said. “We really push ourselves a lot to strive to be great. So a little burn isn’t going to stop me.”

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His teammates appreciate the determination and sacrifice for the team.

“We all know what went down, but just to go out there and continue to play week after week with that, that shows a lot of grit and toughness by him and we appreciate it as a team,” said quarterback P.J. Walker, who will start in place of the injured Deshaun Watson.

Njoku was asked what went through his mind during the accident.

“Shockingly, I’m not trying to sound like a freak, but it was kind of a rush,” he said. “Like that adrenaline surge. It was cool, but obviously we have to be smarter and I’m glad that nothing drastic happened.”

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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