But with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing teams to conduct offseason programs virtually, Hooper had to get creative.
So, he moved in.
Austin Hooper stayed at Baker Mayfield’s house
Hooper, shortly after signing a four-year, $42 million deal with the Browns in March, visited Mayfield at his home in Austin and stayed for a few weeks.
“I was staying at Baker’s house for like two or three weeks so we had a good time when we were practicing and when we were not practicing,” Hooper said, via CBS Sports. “I definitely think that was kind of the initial spark that really helped our chemistry.”
Apparently, they put in work, too.
“[I] banked a few hundred reps with him,” Hooper said, via Cleveland.com. “Had a good time with him on and off the field and just kind of got a feel for him, his personality, his wife, his family and his friends and just kind of really see Baker the person. It was a good time.”
Hooper recorded a career-high 787 yards and six touchdowns on 75 receptions last season for the Atlanta Falcons. The 25-year-old’s deal with the Browns made him the league’s highest-paid tight end and $23 million of his deal is guaranteed, too.
While he likely still has some adjusting left to do — something that may feel rushed, given how the pandemic has altered training camps and offseason work this summer — Hooper’s trip to Mayfield’s house has him feeling well-prepared.
“The only way to get better at football is by playing more football, and without as much, especially with a new system, could there possibly be some growing pains? Who knows?” he said, via Cleveland.com. “The way that Coach [Kevin] Stefanski and the offensive staff, speaking on my side of the ball, have done such a great job of articulating the new offense and teaching it to us, being a new guy in this offense, I feel pretty comfortable already. I’m just really excited to get on the grass and get after it when we’re able to do so safely.”
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