Freddie Kitchens and John Dorsey Pre-Training Camp Press Conference

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

General Manager John Dorsey and Head Coach Freddie Kitchens:

Opening statement:

Dorsey: “It is great to be back, but before we start to get into and talk to you guys a little bit, I think we would be remiss as an organization if we did not [talk about] who has one of the best records in baseball since June 4 in the Cleveland Indians. Those guys are playing their fannies off. My hats off to (Indians Manager) Terry (Francona), (Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris (Antonetti) and those guys over there with the Cleveland Indians. I think they are doing a heck of a job over there.

“It is always nice to be back. You get energized on vacation, but you know what? It is back to the game of football. We all look forward to the game of football here. I think training camp is a chance for this organization and its fan base to see what kind of team we have. Every year, every team is different. As we move forward and as training camp proceeds, what you are going to see here is a team come together with a single mindset and a single purpose with collective thoughts and collective goals. At the end of the day, we will find what this team is about at the end of training camp and going into the first preseason game.”

Kitchens: “Really, the only thing I want to say is I think there are congratulations in order to Tony Grossi for his hole in one – congratulations, Tony (laughter).”

On reports that Green Bay plans to release Packers DT Mike Daniels

Dorsey: “Last I looked on the NFL waiver wires, they come out about 4 p.m. ET. As of right now, Mike Daniels is the property of the Green Bay Packers. You know my past history, I do not really like to talk about other teams’ players. He is a good football player.”

On if there is an open competition for the starting RG position:

Kitchens: “Of course, it is an open competition. The thing we want to do with our team is create competition in all areas, whether that be with themselves or with another player. We will see who comes out of it.”

On RB Duke Johnson Jr.’s status, given reports the Browns met with his agent Drew Rosenhaus:

Dorsey: “Drew Rosenhaus and I had a very good conversation yesterday. We both had a chance to discuss each other’s sides. I had the chance to state my opinions. He had the chance to state his opinions. This is the first day of training camp, and it looks like Duke is here so he has reported to training camp. With regards to his role with the offense, I think that is a question you can ask Freddie, but I would say that if history is any indicator, he would be a very productive player in this offense.”

On if Johnson and Rosenhaus are continuing to ask for a trade:

Dorsey: “The business of football, I will really not talk about, but Drew and I had good conversations.”

On if the Browns’ response to trading Johnson has changed since Dorsey and Kitchens most recently addressed the media:

Dorsey: “Last time I saw, Duke Johnson is a Cleveland Brown, and he has reported to training camp. Let’s move forward here because we have a lot of goals at stake here in the 2019 season so let’s build together.”

Kitchens: “We have said it from the very beginning that Duke is a Cleveland Brown. He signed a contract last year. He is going to be here, he is going to have a role in our offense and he is going to have a significant role in our offense. He is a productive player. We are not giving away good players. We want good players and if John can get more good players, I will take them. Do not worry about the ball. We will find enough balls for them. We just want good players who can make plays.”

On the biggest challenge heading into training camp and the season:

Dorsey: “Here is why training camp is so important from my perspective, and Freddie may have a different thought on this, as well. When you have 91 guys going into training camp – like I said, every team is different every year – now they have to come together as one. They have to come through and understand how to fight through those adverse moments. What I want to see most is see all of these guys come together as one. It starts with that locker room with that veteran leadership and those veterans can bring this bunch together. That is what forms your identity, but I think we have enough good chemistry within that locker room to have a really productive, strong-minded team because at the end of the day, we have to block out the words. Training camp is about action. Day in and day out, it is about action.”

On philosophy regarding physicality during training camp and playing time during the preseason:

Kitchens: “I think that is discussion for a future date. I do agree with [the need to have] a physical football team, and you create that environment during training camp. Somebody asked me a long time ago what I looked for in a football team and part of what I am looking for in a football team is to be the most physical football team on the field. You create that with the way you practice, the way you go about your business from the meeting room to the practice field, and then once you get on the practice field, you have to practice being physical. We will practice being physical.”

On biggest challenges and expectations heading into training camp:

Kitchens: “Right now, we are just a bunch of good players – a bunch of individuals. I will bring it up tonight again when we meet with the players for the first time. Until we do something, that is all we are is a bunch of good players. This is the only business in the world that you hire 90 guys to fire half of them. We are not the Browns yet. We are not the Cleveland Browns yet. We are a bunch of individuals trying to get jobs. In the course of getting jobs, you see who is going to be able to come together and create the Cleveland Browns. When we walk out onto that field, we want everyone to be proud of the product that is out there.”

On RB Kareem Hunt and video of him outside of a bar during the offseason:

Dorsey: “We were aware. We have reviewed the facts. We understood what the facts were. Freddie and I both had a chance to sit down with him. He understands there are no guarantees in life, and he is going about exactly how he is going about his business and working his fanny off on the field, as well as off the field.”

Kitchens: “It has never been harder to be player in the National Football League. Everything they do is under a microscope. With the advancements of social media and all of that kind of stuff, every little thing – it doesn’t matter how big or how small – is always going to be made into a bigger deal. Kareem is always going to have our support, and we are going to support him like we do with every other player we have. We want them to be a better person 50 years from now and still be able to sustain and be successful in life than just worrying about right now.”

On if the Browns are confident the NFL will not take further action with Hunt following the video:

Dorsey: “Yes.”

On competition at SS:

Kitchens: “Not just strong safety but John and his group have done a great job of creating an atmosphere of talent to compete, and that is what we are looking for in any position. Certainly, that is a great example of one that is going to be competed against.”

On preparing to face adversity during training camp, given mentions of preparing to face adversity later in the season:

Kitchens: “Definitely. The game is still going to kick off in September. I have told you before, all they have to do is let us know what time to be there. We are going to try to create and our job as coaches sometimes is to create adversity because you can practice adversity or at least it will give you a hindsight into who is going to deal with it well. We will take the adversity as it comes, but I am looking forward to the first time that we see adversity because then and only then will we determine what kind of football team we have. You have to face it, and you are going to face it. I do not know when it can be. For some teams, it happens in the Super Bowl. New England Patriots went 19-0 and went to the Super Bowl. They faced adversity in the Super Bowl. I do not know when it is going to happen nor do I care, but I am looking forward in getting to that point and seeing how our team reacts.”

On creating adversity during training camp:

Kitchens: “Without going through a practice schedule with you, I think you try to make it competitive. You try to see who wilts under fire. Whether it is a coach getting on somebody’s ass or a player and player competing against each other for a spot, there are several ways you create adversity. That is just one example. Our practices our open.”

On offseason reports the development of the Browns offense wasn’t going as smoothly as anticipated with the addition of offensive coordinator Todd Monken and new staff:

Kitchens: “I do not know where they get that from. I do not know what is different than we would have expected to begin with. I am not trying to throw your question off, but I did not know that we have any problems, and we do not [have any problems].”

Dorsey: “Let me add in here. I see it with my own two eyes. I have seen clear communication. I have seen clear collaborative effort working for the coaching staff. I do not see any [complications]. That is outside noise that we keep talking about. I do not think he pays attention to it.”

Kitchens: “I am very, very, very, very pleased with the coordinators I hired, the position coaches I hired and the quality control guys I hired. I can not be happier with who I hired. They were all hired for a specific reason. I am very happy with the job that Todd Monken is doing. He is exactly what I signed for, and I am assuming I am exactly what he signed up for. There is never a surprise with me. I promise you that you are going to be told exactly what is expected, and Todd is the same way. He has the same mindset as me. That is why he is here. We have the same mindset. There is no surprise. I do not know where that came from. I think that is summer talk. You guys listen and look for things to right about in the summer… Just messing with you. Do not take offense. Do not get sensitive (laughter).”

On how QB Baker Mayfield is handling the transition to name player to leader and NFL celebrity player:

Kitchens: “He is still just Baker to me. It is kind of funny, I am going to tell him that you said that, though. You will probably suffer something because of that, too, by the way (laughter). Baker is going to be himself. He is not going to change for anyone. It does not matter, he is always going to tell you the truth. He is going to speak the truth. That is what I like about him. Everybody around him is going to know where they stand. I want all of our players to be themselves because if try to start being somebody you are not, you do not never know who you are. I want them be themselves. Baker has not changed, he had not changed from when he first got here as a rookie from the standpoint of how he is in the locker and how he is as a person.”

On Mayfield’s personality and balancing it with being a leader, particularly as a second-year player

Kitchens: “I want him to be who he is, but also, he is 24-year old guy that has a lot of life to live. Baker knows what he is doing. He is not just a guy that is just flying by the seed of his pants. A lot of people confuse him with somebody that does not know what he is doing. He is not like that now. Don’t ever have a misconception about that. I want everybody to be themselves and then it is up to us to determine if we like that or not. We like Baker. We want him to continue doing what he is doing.”

Dorsey: “As you said, Baker is 24-years old. He is a little bit more mature than your average 24-year old man. Last I looked, wherever he has been, his teammates have always galvanized to him and that is all you can ask for in that locker room is if your teammates support you and love you. That is what it is all about because it is those guys within that locker room. That is who he is. His competitive zeal on the field is off the chart. You know what? His teammates respect that and love that, and I am okay with that too because you know what? Those guys at that position, it takes a lot of work because it is hard to master that quarterback position. It really is. Freddie, I know you have goals and expectations for him coming for next year, but let’s see him grow. He is a second-year player – that is what he is – but he is a pretty good second-year player, too.”

On reports that veteran Browns players spoke with Mayfield after his response to Johnson’s comments and if the coaches would approve of that, if it did in fact occur:

Kitchens: “I would say this about that – we do not talk about anything in the locker room. I did not see that [happen] really, but anything like that would be outside of the realm of anything we are going to talk about moving forward. There is no story there. I do not know anything about that [happening], and I would be more concerned on how it got out [in the public] than anything else.”

Dorsey: “Let’s do this. Let’s talk about the training camp of 2019. Let’s not live in the past here. There is a lot of good things that you all can ask about coming up here in training camp.”

Kitchens: “I will reiterate this one thing: We only care about this building. I do not care about anybody else outside of this building, and I like players that have that mindset.”

Dorsey: “I disagree with you because you just congratulated that man right there [Grossi on his hole in one] (laughter).”

Kitchens: “Well, that was on a personal level.”

On Kitchens’ day-to-day role with the offense:

Kitchens: “I am going to walk into the offensive staff meeting as one of them because we are very collaborative in that area. They are very collaborative on the defensive side of the ball. When it comes to gameday, I will be calling the plays.”

On his role during the week with the offense:

Kitchens: “I am a member of the offensive staff, and then I will walk into the defensive room and I will be a member of the defensive staff. Then I will get with (special teams coordinator) Mike Priefer and I will be a member of the special teams.”

On if he has spoken to any of his coaching mentors and past head coaches about making the transition to head coach, in addition to working with a veteran GM like Dorsey:

Kitchens (to Dorsey): “How long have you been doing this?”

Dorsey: “The game of football? 34 years.”

Kitchens: “He is a veteran, isn’t he? Yeah, I speak to them. I would not say on a regular basis but I have spoken to several coaches during the course of the summer. I just talked to (Pro Football Hall of Fame) Coach (Bill) Parcells just the other day at length. Sometimes it is just good to talk to him and just hear them talk. Sometimes when you talk to someone, you do not always have to have questions. You can just talk to them and that spurs thoughts. If you have ever had somebody you talk to where it is just a good conversation, that is tend to what I am looking for more than anything. Then of course, I think I have the resources to get answers to questions if I ever have them.”

On advice from his mentors and colleagues as he transitions to head coach:

Kitchens: “Nothing specific. Coach Parcells, the biggest thing he gave me right after I got the job was that there will always be something that comes across my desk that I was not expecting everyday, and you have to have the ability to handle that. Hopefully, I have done a good enough job doing that. At the end of the day, all of my mentors know that I am not changing. I am who I am. It is up to everybody else. It is not my problem if you do not like me. I am just going to keep being me.”

Dorsey: “You have a pretty good sounding board on your coaching staff, too. You can pick those guys brains, too.”

Kitchens: “This staff was put together for a reason. They are good teachers first and foremost. All we want is teachers. All coaching is is teaching. Before our players can perform to the best of their ability, they have to be taught what to do and what we are looking for. Then it is up to them to go do it. I think I put together great guys that goes and teach the players in the classroom, teach the players on the field, play with good technique. I think I put together a physical staff, because I want a physical staff too, that teaches and believes in being physical. And then I got great experience on my staff. Todd Monken has been a coach at Southern Mississippi. (Defensive coordinator) Steve Wilks has been a coach in the NFL. Mike Priefer is probably ready to be a head coach in the National Football League. Just because they have not had the chance yet does not mean they don’t have the ability to do the same job I’m doing. I am just throwing that out there. Who the hell knows? (Run game coordinator/running backs Stump Mitchell has been in the league longer than I have. Mitchell has over 30 years of experience in this league. I have experience around me, and then I have young guys that just have the desire, foaming at the mouth per se, to get better and want to win. This game is about winning. I have said that from the very beginning. We want to create an environment where it is all about winning and that is what everyone’s focus is every day.”

On WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s mindset and transition to the team:

Kitchens: “I think his mindset is pretty good. Yes, I have talked to him more than a few times. I was never worried about him. I know some people were worried but I was not. Exactly what he told us he was doing, he did. He got himself mentally and physically ready to go. He is mentally and physically ready to go.”

On how Beckham fits in the Browns offense:

Kitchens: “All I have heard is we don’t have enough footballs to go around, but Odell is a great player. I like great players that want to win. I feel like he wants to win. I like great players that want to be themselves. He is going to be allowed to be himself. I like great players that can make a play with the ball in their hands. I like players that can get open. I like players that catch the ball. All of those things, I think he does very well. I don’t know the specific role yet. We will see what it turns into, but I know that is our job as coaches to put him into position to make plays, just like it is our job to put Duke Johnson into position to make plays and to create schemes and run game holes for (RB) Nick Chubb to run the ball in and it is our job to make opportunities for Baker to make plays and (WR Antonio) Callaway and (WR) Jarvis (Landry) and all of these guys to make plays. This is our job as coaches. I would rather have that problem than not enough players.”

On if the Browns ever believe there is too much to be done much, given the expectations in context with the significant roster turnover over the past two years:

Kitchens: “I want everybody to understand this – our goal here with the Cleveland Browns as long as I am here will always be to win the Super Bowl. Now that is the last time I will say that. Just know and make it a given that that is what I believe to my core is to win the Super Bowl. You do not do that by talking about it, and you do not do that by outside expectations. You do it by putting expectations on how you prepare on a day-in and day-out basis, keeping your head down and not worrying about the scoreboard because then you cannot tell me when do I need to let up or when do I need to press a little harder. I just want everything they have, every time we walk onto that field. If we do that, we will let the scoreboard take care of itself. We are not going to judge how we perform by the scoreboard. We are going to judge how we perform based on what we did to get better every day. I just want them to be a little bit better tomorrow than they were today. If we do that enough, we will put ourselves in a position to be successful. Now what that looks like this year? I do not know. I have never predicted anything, but I know our goal, and that is not going to change.”

Dorsey: “My job is to get him as many good football players as I possibly can. With the talent that this coaching staff has in terms of developing young men, I have no problem with trying to achieve that goal. We are on the first day of training camp. Really, like Freddie was saying, we have a bunch of individuals now. Eventually in training camp, we will develop that team chemistry that is so important to succeed as this season begins. I think you have a lot of men in that locker room who are really passionate about the game of football and are ultra-competitive and really like the game of football. Now, they come together – that is what it is.”

Kitchens: “I don’t ever want to be scared to talk about what our goal is. If we don’t have 53 guys here at the end of [training camp] with that same goal, then they are in the wrong business and they are doing us and the Cleveland Browns a disservice. I want them to have that goal, but I want them to understand how they get there. It is not by talking about it and it’s not by predicting it. I also do not want them to be scared to go out there and get it. If you are not going to jump out of the airplane, don’t put the parachute on. I want people who will put the parachute on.”

On preparing personnel who are not accustomed to high expectations:

Dorsey: “It is the guys within that locker room. What you do is come together. It is within the room that makes the identity of the Cleveland Browns. That is who the Cleveland Browns are when they step onto that field on Sundays. It will be those guys, and they are going to self-talk each other in that locker room. Some are going to have good days and bad days in training camp, but they will have a commonality of one thing and that is that they are at training camp together.”

On if any Browns players will be unable to practice Day 1:

Kitchens: “There are a couple who may be hit or miss, but after the first few days, everybody should be good to go.”

On if Landry will be ready to practice tomorrow:

Kitchens: “Yes sir.”

On potentially adding depth at OT and DT:

Dorsey: “I feel comfortable where we are right now, but that is not to say as training camp and the preseason begins the guys up in personnel won’t be hammering away as they begin that evaluation process of possibilities of trying to acquire players if we feel like right now it is not working out.”

On the Browns’ interest in Panthers DT Gerald McCoy this offseason, in context with Daniels reportedly to be released by the Packers:

Dorsey: “I can’t talk about either player because they are property of another team. They are both good football players.”

On status contract negotiations with S Damarious Randall:

Dorsey: “I have had a lot of good conversations with Damarious’ agent. This is going to take a little time, but as you all know, my answer is going to be I don’t talk about the business of football in that regard, but we have had conversations.”

On how T Greg Robinson can improve at LT from last year:

Kitchens: “I just want him to continue to work on his technique. It is all technique related. Greg Robinson is going to come back here – he is already here – and he is going to put his best foot forward. He is going to get better every day. He is committed to doing, that and I fully trust Greg Robinson.”

On if there is a position of note the group is most excited to see in training camp:

Dorsey: ”Deep snapper (laughter).”

Kitchens: “That would be a good one. Hopefully, we can get it back there.”

On balancing being a first-year head coach while being known as a likeable person among players throughout his career:

Kitchens: “I am not trying to be friends with anybody. I am trying to get them better and do my role in that. Just like our coaches are. I do not know how to answer that. I do not care if they like me, I just want to get them better because they will respect that in the long run.”

Dorsey: “You know what he is and I have seen it with my own eyes? He is consistent and players trust him. It really takes a lot to trust players. Guess what? He also flips to the other side and holds those players accountable, and I think that is damn important. They trust him, too, and that is big. If you call them out on certain things, if you are consistent on a day-to-day basis, that is all you can ask for in your head coach.”

On players expressing their individuality in the public and football and how to reach to it as a coach, given football is the ultimate team game:

Dorsey: “Young men in today’s society are exposed to a lot of platforms and a lot of different things. There are things in there. Like that ‘Tweeter’ thing, they got that thing and then coach (Bill) Belichick, he calls that thing ‘Instaface.’ These are platforms that the young guys they live on. My son Jack, my wife is a phone Nazi when it comes to that stuff. She holds him so accountable. Jack, it is one of those things that Jack wants to play a game on the phone and I am like, ‘No, you are not playing.’ It is just they are exposed to a lot of different things right now and with that. Always remember this: The game of football is a great game, and it takes 53 guys as one to succeed. It does not take 53 guys going in different direction like this because you won't be a very good team if that happens.”

On the difference this year for Mayfield to practice with starters compared to last year’s camp:

Kitchens: “I think it is huge. So much of that game within a game has to do with timing and things like that. Odell and him have spent some time this offseason and Jarvis, they had a whole group out in California in between [Mayfield’s] honeymoon and wedding. Anyways, it will be fine. That is the beauty of training camp. There are no time limits and there are no restrictions from a league standpoint on rules of Phase I and Phase II and all that stuff. We will be ready to go. I have confidence in them.

On if there is a need to talk to guys about social media as it becomes more prevalent, specifically referencing Beckham launching a YouTube channel:

Kitchens: ”No, hopefully, he invites me on some time without the Brinks truck (laughter).” 

Dorsey: “You are talking to two guys up here… Do you think we would read GQ magazine, cover to cover?” 

Kitchens: “Hell, I might (laughter). Don’t report that (laughter). I would say that there is definitely a responsibility on our end to make sure. Literally, though, what could we teach them that they do not already know in that arena per se? We just have to educate them to make good decisions and make sure they understand the consequences of certain actions. If they are willing to deal with those consequences, whether it be financially, friendship wise or team wise, then they make that decision. We just want guys around us that are here to be a Cleveland Browns that makes the best decision for the team. I think some of our guys you get them confused as someone that does not care about the Cleveland Browns. We have a bunch of guys here that are in it for the guys in that locker room and that is the only thing that they care about. That is the only thing I care about, and that is the only thing I want them to care about. I do not want them to care about any outside influence at all, whether it is what people say in the media, what people say on Twitter, what people are saying on Facebook and all that kind of stuff. None of that matters because they are not here, and they are not going to walk out on the field with us on Sunday.”

Dorsey: “From an organizational standpoint, I do want to let you all know that we actually have programs in place that will start tonight with regards to the power of social media, the good and bad and the other part and also, the power of the video. These guys go around anywhere in the community and there is a video right there. That would not happen 10-15 years ago.”

On bringing big personalities together in the locker room to unite as a team, particularly if a player’s stats may not be as high:

Kitchens: “I think [you] are overcomplicating it. I really do. If we have the right guy here as a player…. Ask Jarvis Landry. When will you guys talk to Jarvis? When you talk to Jarvis, ask him if he had more fun the first half or the second half of the year. Did his numbers go down in the second half? Only his attempts. His reception percentage to the attempts went up. He had more fin the second half of the year. Why? Because we won. We have the right guy here. Winning is fun; losing is not. Now, I know players chase stats and you guys chase controversy, because of why? It sells. It means money. Guys around here are not going to be like that. I have total confidence. Odell wants to win. I know that is whom you were referring to. Odell wants to win. Nick Chubb wants to win. Baker wants to win. Jarvis wants to win. We have a lot of guys that want to win. Not one damn question today about the defense too, by the way.”

Dorsey: “Did you notice right there? He is an offensive coach because he did not name one defensive player (laughter).”

Kitchens: “Not one question about the defense. We have some guys that are going to get after the quarterback. We have some guys that should be able to cover. We are all going to get better every day we get on the field and see where we are at in September. September is the only thing we are worried about right now. It is not down the road. More importantly, we are worried about tomorrow and then the next day and then the next day. We just want to get a little bit better every day.”

On how the Browns defense can improve from last year, particularly in missed tackles:

Kitchens: “For me, I know I am younger in age supposedly – I do not feel it all the time – but I am from the old school approach. This game has never changed and never will change. It is about blocking and tackling. It is about being able to run the ball when you want to run the ball, and it is about being able to stop the run. If you do that, then you have a great chance of being successful and that is never going to change as long as I am here. I am pretty sure this guy feels the same way as far as where it starts.”

Dorsey: “Fundamentals.”

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