Freddie Confident Browns Can Move Forward

Head Coach Freddie Kitchens:

Opening statement:

“It was good to have our guys back out there today and in meetings today. Good to have everybody back together. Moving on to Miami and preparing for them. They have been real successful lately, and it is good that we get a little head start on them today on the field.”

On his message to the team in terms of refocusing after all that transpired Thursday and Friday:

“That message does not change from week to week. We just move on to the next game.”

On level of confidence the Browns can move past what occurred Thursday and Friday:

“Very confident.”

On filling in for the loss of DE Myles Garrett with his suspension:

“Of course, Myles was having an excellent season and it is hard to replace somebody with that kind of production, but we have some guys that are mentally and physically up to the challenge. I have total confidence that they will give us everything they have and produce when needed.”

On if DE Olivier Vernon may be available on Sunday:

“I think it is going to be very close. We just have to play it by the end of the week and see where he is.”

On if WR KhaDarel Hodge earning more playing time on offense and if that is a result of how Hodge has practiced recently:

“He has been producing in practice on some of the look teams. We thought he was a pretty good receiver when we signed him. His immediate impact was on special teams where he is one of the top players in the league in that area. He will continue to see time.”

On Hodge never playing special teams until he played in the NFL:

“I think when you start talking about guys down the line of the roster in a particular room, they have to find a niche, and he has definitely done that. A lot of times all special teams is desire, want to, effort and all the kind of intangibles. He has a lot of them.”

On LB Mack Wilson’s performance in the last three-four weeks:

“I think Mack is getting better every time he goes out on the field. He continues to gain experience with different offenses and what his keys where he eyes are supposed to be. As he continues to get better with his eyes, he definitely got the physical tools to make the plays. His eyes have to be what gets him there and in position to do that.”

On S Eric Murray’s status:

“Not much has changed on him. We will wait and see.”

On if it feels like a different challenge to keep the team focused this week after all that happened Thursday and Friday:

“I think we have a resilient bunch of guys. They have accepted the challenge every week. It seems like it has been something different [every week]. That is the way football seasons are, though. When you kind of become talked about, things come to the forefront more often. Our guys have been resilient from the standpoint of they have tried to stay focused week in and week out and just doing the job. We just want to do a good job today, do a good job tomorrow and then do a good job of course ultimately on Sundays when we get graded.”

On how hard will it be to replace S Morgan Burnett:

“Morgan is kind of a leader over there in there in the secondary, and he will be missed. We have some other guys back there that have played some snaps, and we feel total confidence in them. Morgan was a good football player for us.”

On difficulty replacing Garrett:

“The strength is in numbers, and we have 11 guys out there for a reason. Everybody has to do just a little bit more. Everybody has to do their job just a little bit more often. You can’t rely on the fact that so many things can get covered up because you have an elite pass rusher there. We have some other guys that can get after the quarterback, but his production will be missed so we need some guys that step up in his production area. Also, we have to rely on our corners a little more. We have to rely on our linebackers a little more. We have 11 guys that can take up that slack a little bit.”

On if DE Chris Smith is fully back mentally after the tragic passing of his girlfriend earlier this season:

“Yeah, I think Chris is ready to step up and step his role up some and have more production for us.”

On if Smith was more active against Pittsburgh:

“Yeah, I think he had a solid game against Pittsburgh, and he needs to continue to put his best foot forward and get more and more production. He will get more and more opportunities.”

On if it took Smith awhile to be fully recover mentally following the tragic passing of his girlfriend earlier this year:

“I think anytime something like that happens in life – you forget that these guys have a life, also – so when things like that happen, of course, it takes something from him emotionally and mentally. I think Chris did a good job of fighting through some of those emotions and from a mental standpoint. It is never easy when you start talking about things like that. Every day is hard. He has done a good job and a much better job of compartmentalizing and understanding he has to just stay in the moment.”

On the strengths of Smith’s game:

“Chris’ effort is very good. His attention to detail needs to be better. His assignments need to be better. I think sometimes you do not find out about guys until they are thrust into action with a more prominent role, and we will find out.”

On if he feels like Garrett was provoked Thursday night:

“Everybody here saw the tape. I am just here to support. I will support Myles. Our team will support Myles. I am not going to get into that. You saw the tape.”

On how the Browns will support Garrett:

“Yeah, I have contacted Myles. We visited on Friday. We visited on Saturday. Myles is a good person, and we are going to support Myles. Myles is part of our family. When we break it down at the end of the day, every day they break it down on family, and Myles is part of that family.”

On if he can be in contact with Garrett while serving his suspension:

“I do not really know. I am holding out on whether or not to contact him after the suspension started until then so I do not really know the rules on that. I will find that out before I make any illegal contact. I feel like… I do not know. That is another opinion.”

On LB Joe Schobert’s performance against the Steelers:

“Joe Schobert had one of his better games as a pro against Pittsburgh. He was very active. He had two interceptions. Sometimes guys can have good games without the production points, numbers or whatever stats. Joe had a very active game. At the football, he had 10 tackles, [four] pass breakups, two picks and a sack. That is a pretty good stat line for him, but above all else, he did an excellent job of getting guys where they were supposed to be to enable them to make plays, also.”

On DE Chad Thomas’ recent performance and his improvement in the absence of other defensive front players:

“Yeah, well Chad’s reps have picked up since (DE) Olivier (Vernon) has been out. They have continued to go up. We just need him to continue doing his job and do it well. Like I said, everyone needs to do their job and just better with a sense of urgency and a sense of detail, and we will be OK.”

On what the Dolphins offense is doing better now than they were at the beginning of the season:

“Those guys seem to be executing better than they were earlier in the year. Protecting a little better. Their receivers are running better routes. Just overall, they are making good decisions. They are staying in the game, and then at the end of the game, they are able to make plays to win the game. That is what they are doing a little different. At the beginning part of the year, they just were not making those plays. Then they would get out of the game early so they would kind of get away from who they were. I think they are doing a good job of that. They are doing a good job of staying together. We have a tough test for us this weekend. They are playing very good football.”

On TE David Njoku’s status:

“He is kind of day to day right now.”

On if Njoku is cleared to practice:

“I think starting Wednesday, yeah, if nothing has changed from today or tomorrow so I would say write that down but I would not type that up right now.”

On the curiosity stemming from Njoku’s Instagram post saying he has been activated:

“Yeah. Well, OK. He told you.”

On if Njoku could play against the Dolphins:

“We have to get him on the football field and see where he is. I do not know that to be fact right now. I would like to see where he is at conditioning, physically and mentally. There are a lot of things that go into that.”

On RB Kareem Hunt’s performance in the past two weeks:

“I think Kareem is doing a good job of staying in the moment, doing his job and letting his skill take care of everything else. Mentally, he has been hooked up for a while now, and it shows every time he goes out there.”

On if he feels Browns players are embracing the situation and can galvanize around Garrett’s absence:

“I think what the game of football does that maybe some of the other sports do not do is… I talk all the time about you either run toward each other or you run away when adversity strikes. I think we have done a good job of running toward each other. I think that is the part of being a family and that when we hit adversity, that we look to each other instead of looking outside or fingers go this way. I do not expect anything other than that, and if we do that, we will be fine.”

On if the organization has looked into or discussed how players can learn to control their anger during games:

“We do a lot of things within the organization to support our guys on and off the field. Myles Garrett is a good person. He is a good person. He is a good individual. He does a lot in the community. He is a soft-spoken – Myles Garrett is good person, and we are not going to pile on Myles. He had a bad lapse in judgement, and that is it. I am still a Myles Garrett fan, and I am still going to support him, our organization is going to support him and his teammates are going to support him, and this coaching staff will support him.”

On if he is excusing Garrett and if he thinks Garrett had reasoning behind his actions, given his comment of ‘you saw the tape’:

“I never said anything like that. I asked you if saw the tape. Did you see the tape? That is the only thing I asked you. I did not insinuate anything. I was asked for a comment, and I was not making a comment on it. I just asked if you saw the tape so form your own conclusion. I have my conclusion that I did not say. Do not insinuate anything. Just did you see the tape? There is no excuse for that to happen on a football field. I know that, Myles knows that and all of the players in the locker room know that. That is it. There is no excuse, but in saying that, we are going to support Myles Garrett moving forward in any way he needs support.”

On if there are still untapped opportunities to use RBs Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb:

“You are still wanting to see more wishbone, aren’t you (laughter)? Alright, can you write that down for me?”

On Hunt doing things on offense that he did not do while in Kansas City:

“Yeah, I have watched Kansas City tape in the past. I think we are using him a little differently than they used him there.”

On Hunt having a partner in the backfield in Chubb:

“Yeah, we are real fortunate in that room to have really, I think, three good football players, and (RB) D’Ernest Johnson is not bad himself. We feel real fortunate to have those guys in that room.”

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