Browns transcripts -- Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020

Rob McBurnett

Director, Community & Corporate Communications

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement:

“Start with injuries, we will not have (LB) Tae (Davis) out there, (DT) Larry Ogunjobi or (DT) Sheldon Richardson. They will not be practicing.

“Talking about these Colts, a really good football team. I know our guys looking forward to the challenge. Two 3-1 teams. Really should be a great game. When you watch the tape on these guys, you see a very well-coached team – no surprise with (Colts Head) Coach (Frank) Reich. They do a great job on offense and can hurt you in multiple ways on defense. It is a very, very sound scheme. They are attacking. I think you guys have seen the tape and see the stats, and they are outstanding. The same on special teams. They do a really nice job. Quite the challenge for us. We have to have a great week of preparation.”

On if the Browns and RB Kareem Hunt can keep the running game production and not have a fall off without RB Nick Chubb:

“I am confident in our entire running back room. I fully understand the caliber player that Nick is and we would love to have Nick out there, but in the meantime, he is going to be hanging out with (Senior Vice President of Player Health & Development) Joe Sheehan and the training staff and getting ready to get back out there. I really think we have guys that understand the scheme and guys that can contribute in the run and the pass. I am really excited for those guys. I think they are well-coached. I think (run game coordinator/running backs coach) Stump (Mitchell) is excited for the challenge and these guys. We will have to make do until Nick gets back.”

On if he has talked with the Browns RBs about being themselves and trusting the system:

“I think they understand what is at stake. I think they understand that injuries are unfortunately part of this game. You already said it, it is the next man up mentality. I think guys are very keenly aware of that.”

On the Colts defense:

“Team speed. Effort. (Colts DT) DeForest Buckner was a great addition for them playing their 3-technique. He gets up the field. He is long, active. The linebacker corps can really run. Like I said, they are sound. They do not beat themselves. They are where they are supposed to be. Really impressive on tape.”

On balancing what the Browns do on offense yet adjusting it for the Colts defense:

“I think that is your gameplan every week. It is what you feel like you are good at what you feel like they are susceptible to, and right in the middle, you find your gameplan.”

On why NFL scoring totals are up this year:

“Hard to say. I have read the articles about penalties being down and that could contribute to it, but I really do not know.”

On if the Browns need to add a DT with injuries at the position and CB Kevin Johnson not getting any defensive snaps on Sunday:

“With the defensive line, we will monitor that throughout the week, as we always do, and see how those guys are starting really tomorrow. We will not have them out there today, and we will just kind of take it day by day. Kevin just coming off of injury, we are going to need him and expect him to play. Just kind of how the game flow goes.”

On if Chubb’s injury will cause the Browns to either pause or accelerate the evolution of the offense:

“It definitely does not force you to pause. I think if we are worth our salt, we are constantly evolving so we know who is available to us each week and play to your players’ strengths.”

On the Browns run defense this season and challenges presented by the Colts running game:

“That is a good question because the Colts do a really nice job varying their run schemes. I think the rookie (Colts RB Jonathan Taylor) is a load. They really present some challenges. That offensive line is very impressive across the board, and (Colts C/G) Quenton Nelson, you have seen all the highlights. That is a power team that can also run zone and can get on the perimeter. I think you really have to be pure in your run fits. It is a big part of that this week because of the varying schemes that they present. If we have had success this year, it is because we have been pretty good on our run fits and swarm attack.”

On DT Jordan Elliott:

“He has done a nice job and need him to continue to progress. His role will expand. He is very, very diligent about this. He wants to be great. He works really hard out at practice. He just needs to keep progressing.”

On what TE David Njoku can contribute to the TEs on offense and how the offensive gameplan will change following Chubb’s injury:

“To the second part first, I think run game wise, our backs can really handle multiple schemes so we do not put in a run specifically for one of the runners, if that makes sense. I do not think it has to vary a ton without Nick. David brings his own skillset to the group. I think all of them are a little bit different, but David with his size and his ability to be in line and split out, we are excited to get him back out there.”

On how much of concerted effort is placed on setting up plays for later in a game when play calling during a game:

“That is a big part of it, and we work really hard on Monday and Tuesday putting the gameplan together and then you have to have a lot of conversations throughout the week of what we are going to show first and what is coming second. Luckily, (offensive coordinator) Alex Van Pelt and the rest of the offensive staff have a great feel for that.”

On if he did some self-correcting after the Week 1 loss at Baltimore and if he was open to advice from players:

“I hope to be evolving each week. From Week 1 to Week 2, we learned a lot about ourselves, and I hope I am changing and getting better each week. Part of this is throughout, early part of the season still, is understanding our guys, and I think I am getting a better grasp of what our guys are really good at and we have to double-down on those things and we have to protect those things. The good news is we have a bunch of guys that are really working hard and want to contribute to this thing.”

On if there is a big change in Colts QB Philip Rivers in comparison to when he played for the Chargers:

“No, I would not say there is a big change. I think he is with some coaches that really understand him and that were with him out there. The schemes are similar, but he is surrounded by some really good players. He is a great player in his own right and he has guys on the perimeter that he can get the ball to. He has a run game. He has multiple tight ends. I have the utmost respect for Phillip Rivers.”

On this game and Colts defense being a litmus test for the Browns offense, particularly with Chubb out:

“I think it is a challenge. I think that is the fun part in this business, and I think our guys are working really hard here on Wednesday to make sure they understand the plan and get out there on the field and start to get the mechanics of how we are attacking them this week. We totally understand what it is at stake. We totally understand the team that we are getting ready to face here on Sunday because you just turn on the tape and it is so obviously why they are good. They fly around and they are physical. I think our guys will be ready for the challenge.”

On the Colts’ ability to create turnovers and if he is encouraged by QB Baker Mayfield’s progress after throwing no interceptions in the past two games:

“Every week we are going to go into it saying, ‘Do not turn the ball over.’ That is important, and I think that everybody knows the difference between winning and losing is razor thin. If you want to give yourself a chance, you have to attack the ball and you have to go get it on defense. This team has done a great job – like you mentioned, seven interceptions. They play zone so they have eyes on the Q. They play some man and they are tight in coverage where they are making plays on the ball. For every quarterback and for Baker for this week and for every week, just make sure that he goes through his reads and stays pure to them, and make sure that we do everything in our power to not give the ball away.”

On making changes to COVID-19 protocols and procedures and if he has heard about the potential for NFL bubbles:

“I am not hearing anything to that end, but we have to always be ready to adjust to what is going on. We are trying to learn what is going on to see if there is something that we can do better.”

On if he has found anything yet to help the team and staff stay safe during the pandemic, in addition to following protocols:

“Yeah, there are little things that you hear coming out of some of these teams that maybe help us. Like you know, we are following the protocols to a T. If there are things that we can do above and beyond, we are ready to do that.”

On if there is a different play sheet for positions after turnovers or if it just a mindset to be aggressive:

“No, we are just trying to be aggressive. You are right, we have scored touchdowns with those turnovers and that is a huge deal. I think our players have fed off of that. I know the offense feeds off when the ball gets turned over. They are excited to get back on the field. We are just sticking with our offense in those situations.”

# # #

QB Baker Mayfield:

On the challenge the Browns offense faces with RB Nick Chubb out due to injury and if the Browns can continue to produce in the running game:

“First of all, yeah, it always hurts losing a player like Nick, not for just his on the field performance – he is obviously a great player – but just the leader he is for this team. His work ethic, his mentality, he is the same guy every day. That is an important thing for us. We trust in our other guys. Like we said postgame, we trust in the guys to step up. (RB) Kareem (Hunt) – I have said it multiple times – is a top back in the league. We are blessed to have both of those guys. We trust in (RB) D’Ernest (Johnson) and (RB) Dontrell (Hilliard). As you said it, it starts up front, those guys are playing extremely well and they have been for the whole year. We just have to keep going, keep getting better and attack this defense like we have week to week.”

On the Colts defense:

“They are a really sound defense. They play together. They are coached well. They hustle. You can see the effort. They swarm to the ball. I think the biggest statistic is their turnover margin. It is a team that capitalizes on your mistakes and they don’t mess up. They are where they are supposed to be so it is going to be a fundamentally and technique sound week for us.”

On what he has learned about Head Coach Kevin Stefanski as a play caller, given the team’s offensive and red zone success:

“A smooth operator. Right now, we are continuing to call things that are working until teams show us otherwise that they can stop it. We are going to do that and then we are going to take our shots when we can. We are going to pound the rock and try and create matchups on the outside and take advantage of that.”

On being in sync with Stefanski’s play calls:

“We are very much on the same page just through the meetings throughout the week and talking on the field of why we are doing certain things and why we are formatting and running certain plays. We are very much on the same page and so I think that is why we are continuing to grow and be better each week.”

On how much more the Browns offense can evolve this season:

“The sky is the limit for us. I have said that. We are a very different team from Week 1. You can look at the calls, the plays, the schemes and all of it. We are very different, and we are continuing to evolve and grow and see what is working for us.”

On how trick plays energize the offense, including WR Jarvis Landry’s pass to WR Odell Beckham Jr.:

“Yeah, we have had that one there for a while. We needed to get it off the play sheet, and it was perfectly called timing wise and obviously well executed. When those plays hit, it is such a momentum either killer for the defense or motivator for us. It seemed to have worked out so we have to keep that going. Even if they do not work, those boom or bust plays you have to avoid the negative plays, and we did a good job of creating positive ones.”

On the energy WR Odell Beckham Jr. brings on the field and on the sidelines:

“It is very electric. Not only for us we can feel that energy, but I think the other teams can feel it, too, of the ‘Oh, crap,’ of if he is running down the field or he has the ball on his hands he obviously can create space and get open. His ability to make plays when he already has the ball in his hands is a very special thing about him.”

On getting TE David Njoku back to practice this week and what Njoku can add to the offense:

“We are very happy to have David back. We have had a lot of good plays in that tight end room and trust in those guys so it is obviously great to have another playmaker involved. Just another piece of this puzzle and we are happy to have him back. We will see as the gameplan goes on what we are going to do, but we are happy to have him.”

On him saying he doesn’t care about records of past Browns teams as it relates to the team’s current success to start the season and if it is hard for him to keep that attitude with other people inside or outside of the building talking about it:

“For me, it is not very hard at all. Just onto the next one. The most important game is always the next one. I was not here for all that. I was here to change it, and that is what I am doing. I am not worried about the negative. I am only worried about getting better, improving and pushing this franchise forward.”

On if he ever finds people around Cleveland who hold onto the negative and refer to the team’s past records:

“Well, yeah, for starters you guys, but other than that, yeah, around town.”

On Browns OL’s pass protection:

“It has been great. I said after the Washington game, there were a couple sacks that were clearly my fault, and I think the stats showed that we had two or three last week, which one of them was the scramble play and I could have gotten the ball out of my hand and the other one was where we had a shot play drawn up and it was a 0-yard sack. They played extremely well, and that is because we are so balanced right now. We are doing a lot of things well, and we need to continue to do that. Up front, those guys are playing great, and they are going to continue to get better as the season goes on.”

On what Stefanski has done to make him more comfortable in the offense:

“I appreciate keeping the defenses guessing of not knowing what we are doing so they can’t exactly pin their ears back and key in on us too much. It is easy for me when we do have certain plays and I can just go through our reads and not worry about how many people they are going to bring because they do not know what we are going to do. We have such a well-balanced attack right now, obviously heavier in the run game than in the pass, but the thing about our passing game is it is extremely efficient right now. That is because of the timing of play calls and the scheming up so obviously, thankful for that.”

On what makes this team feel special:

“We have built a foundation in the offseason. We talked about it with the player intros, the staff intros and the 4 H’s over the Zoom meetings. It could have been very easy to complain and have excuses, but nobody here did. We are just going through it. We are adapting and evolving as the season goes on. There are obviously a lot of ebbs and flows with this, but this team is resilient and we are going to continue to grow, but we laid a good foundation to be able to do that. I think that is the key part of it.”

On if Hunt will become more vocal and take on more of a leadership role with Chubb out due to injury:

“Kareem was already a very vocal guy. It is just him and Nick are very opposite in that way. It is a very thunder and lightning approach. Yeah, I see Kareem being more vocal as this goes on, but that is nothing new to him. He is not changing. He is not going to overcompensate and try and do too much. He understands that. He is a great teammate. He is just going to be himself, and that is somebody that brings energy every day and talks his trash but backs it up, and we are happy to have him.”

On if he has made any lifestyle changes outside of the building with COVID-19 cases rising around the NFL:

“Not much is different for me. Still staying inside and not going out to restaurants too much. Just kind of sticking to my business. To me, it is not that damn hard. Just wear your masks. We all want to play football. Everybody has to do it. Just do it.”

On if players are being vigilant over the last week as it relates to COVID-19 precautions:

“Yeah, I would say so. There is definitely more topic of discussion about it, especially with the new protocols being in place. It is what it is. We just have to deal with it and move on.”

On Stefanski’s ability to set plays up for later in games with his play calling:

“It is huge. When you are having success in the run game and able to create similar looks and similar formations and motions for these defenses to see over and over and then you come back and you show something totally different but it looks similar up until that point, that is essential. We have done a great job of being able to have success early on and then Kevin trusting in that to continue calling it until it is the right time and you call the shots, that is something that just comes natural to him so it is good for us.”

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RB Kareem Hunt:

On the Browns losing RB Nick Chubb to injury:

“Very tough to lose a guy like Nick, a brother, a great teammate and a great player. Right now, we have to move next man up, and the other running backs, we all have to carry the load until we can get him back.”

On if he believes he can take on more to help continue the Browns run game success:

“Most definitely. I am willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. If that means getting more carries, then I am fine with that, too.”

On if he will do anything to help rally the RBs following Chubb’s injury:

“Yeah, definitely. I am just letting the other running backs know that we have some big shoes to fill. We have to keep it rolling and no drop-off. That is the biggest thing.”

On if he had to ‘shut it down’ at all during last week’s game at Dallas due to his groin injury:

“I am feeling good. I will be ready to go Sunday. There was not really a moment that I had to shut it down.”

On the Colts defense:

“They have some great players on that side of the ball – some big physical guys and some guys who can run. Just have to come ready to play. They are going to give it their best shot.”

On if he is able to take on the workload of Chubb’s and his carries combined or if he will need another RB to help:

“I believe I can take on the workload, but honestly, it is not bad because I trust in those other guys, too, (RB) Dontrell (Hilliard) and (RB) D’Ernest Johnson. If I have ever need a break, I know they will come in and do a great job.”

On if he would prefer to give up third down reps or earlier reps to other Browns RBs:

“Whatever the coach decides. (Run game coordinator/running backs) Coach Stump (Mitchell) does a great job of throwing us in there and putting up something for the running backs.”

On how he and RB D’Ernest Johnson complement each other:

“I think we will definitely make a nice one-two punch, too, because D’Ernest is a great back. He has quick feet, a quick guy and able to make some big runs. I feel like we will go good together.”

On how he is a different runner from when he started in the NFL:

“I would just say I learned a lot more. More experienced. More relaxed, I guess. Just being around the game and being able to play up to the speed, it has slowed down a little bit more for me since then.”

On how much better he is after playing with Chubb:

“I am a lot better because Nick Chubb is a great back. There are some things that I take from his game and some things he can take from mine. We learn from each other and give each other ideas of ways we could have gotten more yards or something out of the run. We both try to help each other out in that aspect.”

On what he has learned about Head Coach Kevin Stefanski as a play caller:

“I learned that he is going to stick to the gameplan. He loves to run the football and loves to do other things with the line and schemes and stuff like that. He is just a great coach and play caller.”

On what has allowed the Browns offense to be successful in the red zone:

“Definitely just having us on the same page and being able to scheme up and dial up something to score.”

On G Wyatt Teller’s contribution to the run game and making big blocks:

“He has been doing a great job. He stepped up a lot this season. We need him and he is a great offensive lineman, but I have to give credit to all those guys up front. They are all doing a great job of making lanes for all the running backs. Wyatt has been doing a great job, for sure.”

On how Stefanski’s offensive scheme makes it easier for the RBs:

“Honestly, it makes it easier us because we need good lanes and we do not want to run where there are six people on that side of the ball or something like that. It is just trying to give us the best looks to be successful on each play.”

On if he knew before the season that Stefanski’s new offensive scheme and run game were going to be successful:

“Yes, definitely because he is so detailed and had great runs drawn up and passes. I could definitely tell.”

On the Colts’ defensive performance this season:

“We are facing a great team, a great defense. We just have to come out there and play ball like we have been, and everybody do their assignment and job and it should take care of itself.”

On Stefanski mixing in riskier plays and what that shows about Stefanski’s trust in the offense:

“It shows that he believes in his players, and that is definitely a big thing. He believes that guys can get the job done. If he calls it, he believes in it 100 percent.”

On the feel in the huddle when one of the trick plays or aggressive plays is called:

“We are excited and we just say, ‘We have to make it work so let’s make it work.’”

# # #

G Wyatt Teller:

On the Browns’ success on plays where he pulls to the left:

“There are a lot of plays where I am pulling to the left, (G) Joel (Bitonio) is pulling to the right, I am pulling to the right or Joel is pulling to the left. I guess the key to it is plugging in our guards and guys who have been playing well in Joel and I and just trying to get the scheme right. Eye candy, but at the same time, we are running downhill and we are having a good time.”

On how impressed he is with RB Kareem Hunt this year:

“Kareem has been amazing. He is a great guy to run in front of because he usually makes you right, which you are thankful for. The (RB) Nick (Chubb) [injury] play, it was tough, and that is the way it works. I know that he is going to rehab himself better and be back stronger than ever – my heart and prayers go out to him. We are not hurting. That is what is so beautiful about the backfield that we have is, even look at (RB) D’Ernest (Johnson) and all of those guys, we have great running backs who when you distribute the ball, they can run for some yards, too.”

On how much confidence it gives him that the Browns RBs enjoy running behind him:

“That is a good thing, but I am at right guard so it is kind of what you would hope is that they embrace you as their running guard. The beautiful thing is I know there is so much more I can improve on. There is so much that I leave out on the field. I am thankful that there have been good things that are happening, we are playing at a high level and we have been winning – first quarter of the season 3-1 in a city that wants to win, right? We have not had the success that we want. Back in the hay day, but recently, we have not had the success that we want. I know that this is big for the fans. I know this is big for the community, as well. Really, I am just happy that we are winning and we are playing well, and if I am a part of that, I am a part of that and I am happy I am.”

On where he can improve:

“There is a lot. I know my finish and my effort has been good and I know that I can even improve on that, but when I look at my play, some people would say, ‘Wow, he is being a mauler. Wow, everything looks good.’ I just know that I can play at such a high level with my feet, with my hands and with my hat placement where sometimes I am behind the block, and luckily my strength gets the job done. That does not always work when you are going against people like (Colts DT DeForest) Buckner and guys like that. You have to be you got to be perfect because they are perfect, they play hard and they have the same effort you have, but now they are just as strong if not faster, if not stronger. There are a lot of a lot of things that I know when I see I’m like, ‘That is good. That is a good finish,’ But I know that my footwork can be better and I can make it look easier.”

On his confidence level and comfort in the scheme and learning from offensive line coach Bill Callahan:

“Coach never really lets you stay comfortable. He stayed on my butt. He has made sure that I know that I have a lot to work at and a lot to improve. Finding those plays and that consistency level is where I want to keep on improving as you see it done amazing one play and then subpar the next play. I need to limit those subpar plays and start playing at that high level 100 percent of the time. Of course, we are playing against the best in the world so it is easy to say that and it is harder to do it. I think with the group around us the scheme that we have, it has definitely been helping me.”

On what makes Callahan such a talented coach:

“His attention to detail. Someone would say, ‘Wow, that is the perfect block,’ and he would be like, ‘Ah, but his toe was 45 degrees the wrong way.’ I am telling you, that is the biggest thing. ‘Alright, Coach, I got you. Alright. Yeah.’ There is a little bit of that. I know that Coach, he just wants the best and he wants his guys to succeed. If you are playing for Coach Callahan, he wants you to do well, and that is something that some coaches are like, ‘You know, we are kind of back against the wall. You know, I hope he does well, but I just do not know.’ He is the kind of guy who he is going to put in 18 hours before the game to make sure that you are on the right page and that you are working well and that you get the idea and even if the technique is a little bit behind that you understand the fundamentals.”

On how motivated he was prior to training camp and how gratifying it has been to have success to start the season:

“I still want to start with it is still early. I know that I can play at a high level, but I know that I can still get better. That is one thing that a lot of people have been patting me on the back, telling me ‘Oh, you are amazing. You are amazing. Your stuff don’t stink.’ I am like, ‘Hey, let me tell you, there is always something you can improve on. There is always something you can get better at.’ I can see it in almost every play. Even if it is plus-plus and Pro Football Focus puts it as a crazy play, I am still like, ‘Wow, I could have fit my backside hand underneath and gotten more lift and even more push.’ That is always the mindset. You are always trying to get better. I have been thankful with Coach Callahan. He has been a stickler about it. He has been watching me and making sure that the bad plays you put on film are mitigated. You put less and less and less and you are a more consistent all-around stud. That is the mindset that I want to get into because when you see, Joel, you see (C) JC (Tretter), you see (T) Jack (Conklin) a you see these guys, and even (T) Jed (Jedrick Wills) has it, he is a young – the same with me – you see guys who have done it year in and year out, and they have done it a high level. Whenever I see them, I am like, ‘That is what I want to do and I want to be.’ It is kind of cool, you have Jack and Joel are the smart ones and I am the mauler so they tell me what to do and I go maul them. It is a pretty good deal.”

On if he is surprised on his own performance or if it is just natural development from getting an opportunity:

“I think that is a lot to it. Not having the offseason here last year and coming in learning a new scheme, yeah, there are so many ways you can skin a cat but the technique and fundamentals behind each play can change drastically. When I first came here, it was slowly learning and I am learning during the season when we are playing and everything is changing, it is nice to know the base rules and the base fundamentals, and then when plays change throughout the year I can make those adjustments. It is nice to have not only smart guys around me, like I was saying, but this offseason I trained as hard as I have and as hard as I could. I think I maybe missed two weeks of strength training the entire offseason. It was definitely a lot of work. I came in early and I made sure that I got with Joel (Bitonio) and JC (Tretter) where they were training up here in Cleveland. We just ran and did drills and stuff like that. I feel like that helped. That was good for my growth but also camaraderie with the group because we did not have the spring together. I think that was rough, but we worked through it and everybody did. I am thankful for the guys around me and coach and everything like that and the detail we put into everything. If you take it to heart and you really work at it, you are going to improve. It is good to have successful people around you, too.”

On if he felt it was fair that Callahan told the media in training camp that the RG position was open:

“You have to be humble at the same time. You know your own worth, right? I knew that I could play, but I did not expect to be handed a job and I did not expect to be handed anything. I knew that I was going to work. I have been working the past three years that I have been in the league. I knew that it would be beneficial for the whole team to have a competition and not a ‘He is our guy. An unproven guy, he is our guy.’ I kind of understood that I knew that I had to take lots of steps, but in my mind, it was mine, it was job, I wanted it and I was going to do whatever it took to get it. That is why work so hard, I put on the weight and I gained strength. I still have to get in shape (laughter) because we cannot run as much and it is a little different when you are not playing ball, but it is the only thing that really gets you into shape is ball. It was good, and I felt like preparation was big this year.”

On satisfaction when getting the first big block of a game and if helping spring a big run is an OL equivalent to scoring a TD:

“You always get the touchdown blocks, and those are basically the offensive line equivalent [of scoring a touchdown]. I would say the biggest thing is trying to…It took a couple of series last game to really get into it, and when it is a slow start or whatever it is, you just have to be consistent and continue on. That is one thing, like that first play I remember the Cincinnati game, the first play, I knocked my guy down, it was a fake and I run over to hit someone else. You are just having fun flying around, and then all of a sudden your guy sees it and they are like ‘Alright, we can do this, too. Let’s fly around and hit each other.’ It is contagious. Sometimes – it is a bad word – being a prick is a good thing. I have to be smarter with my hands and no personal fouls or holding calls, but I think that that helps in the long run is having that little bit of edge, that chip on your shoulder to where guys are not just thinking about the block; they are thinking about the guy trying to take their head off. I think that that helps the whole offensive line and we see it and it is working and it is good.”

On what makes Colts DT DeForest Buckner so good and challenge presented by the Colts DL:

“The scheme fits the players. When you have a scheme that first the players, you have 11 guys who play all out, all game for 60 minutes. They are tougher than nails. He is 6-7, 300 pounds and very fast. He is good with his hands. He is fast. He is smart. He sees tells. He sees stuff. Like I said, for this scheme he is perfect. Slight movements to where you are missing off blocking combos and stuff like that, and that is what he lives for and I think that he is a good player to do it. I think that he talented and a smart guy, as well as a talented guy. I am not even talking about just No. 99. I am talking about that whole front, that whole d-line, as well as the linebackers. You have a talented front and a talented back core, and you are going to have a good defense. There are reasons why that they have been given the accolades that they have been given, but it does not make us afraid or that does not make us scared. That just makes us understanding of the preparation it takes to take down a giant like them.”

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TE David Njoku:

On how it feels to be back after missing three weeks with an injury:

“It feels really good. My body is really healed now so I am ready to go.”

On his mentality returning from injury and if he feels he can pick up where he left off, given he had a strong start in Week 1:

“Thank you. For sure. For sure. I am completely healed so I am really excited to finally get back on the field, hang with my teammates and have some fun. I am very excited.”

On his level of nervousness when he sustained his knee injury:

“I am a very God-fearing man so I understand that everything happens for a reason. Now, with that being said, when I went to the locker room third quarter of the first game, I was not really too nervous because it did not really feel like anything crazy. I just kept my head up, and I attack everything as they come.”

On the luxury for the Browns to have RB Kareem Hunt as a backup after RB Nick Chubb sustained an injury:

“I think we have all seen what Kareem and the other running backs can do when Nick Chubb went down against Dallas others this past weekend. I have full confidence in all of them. I am very excited to see how they deal with this with what is going on and how they attack it. I have 100 percent confidence in all of our running backs. I am really excited to see them partake in this game this weekend.”

On if the Browns TEs may have a bigger role in the gameplan this week, particularly following Chubb’s injury:

“That is highly classified (laughter). I guess you will see this weekend.”

On what he has seen from the Browns offense and its evolution from the start of the season to now:

“As I see and as everyone else sees, we are having great progress. We are finally coming together as a team, and we are playing for each other. Each week by week, we just keep getting better, and that is something that we have to keep doing.”

On if his injuries this season have motivated him more to show what he can do:

“100 percent motivation. I am very excited to play again.”

On staying engaged while sidelined with an injury:

“I have watched every practice and every game. I am there in meetings. I am there throughout the day. I just do not practice. I am always around. I just was not able to practice the last few weeks. Now that I am back, it is different and I would say I am very excited.”

On what makes this year feel special for the Browns:

“For starters, we have a record that we have not had in a little while – I think I read somewhere about 20 years. It is not easy being 3-1 in the NFL. Kudos to the whole team, but there is a lot more work to be done.”

On the Browns coming together at this point in the year:

“For starters, our record. We obviously had a tough first game, and we picked it up each and every week after that so that is one of the main focal points is winning. That is what we are here to do.”

On if he feels there is a good bond between the team despite the COVID-19 protocols:

“Yes, something we focused on especially this year was embracing the suck. Obviously, we are dealing with a lot of complications going on in this word, and it is our job to focus on what is at hand and the task at hand, which is playing football and winning games. We have to just enjoy that.”

On how he will fit into the Browns offense after how TEs Harrison Bryant and Austin Hooper have played the past three weeks:

“I see myself doing anything I can do to help the team accomplish our main goal.”

On what he has learned about Head Coach Kevin Stefanski and Stefanski as a play caller:

“I guess looking back these last few weeks watching him call the plays is that he loves his tight ends. That is something that I can get along with. He likes running the ball. He likes doing what you have to do to take it to the next level.”

On how much he enjoys blocking:

“Like I said, I am here to do whatever I can to help the team. That obviously includes blocking, it includes catching and includes all the extracurricular activities. I am just here for the team.”

On if there is a sense of satisfaction after making a big block to spring a RB free:

“Yes, of course. Of course, especially when the back is your close friend, it means a lot much more to block for someone you care about.”

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Colts Head Coach Frank Reich conference call

On RB Kareem Hunt:

“Obviously, he runs hard. He runs with confidence. He has tremendous balance and vision. Ultimate respect for him. He is a big-time playmaker in this league.”

On if he believes Hunt will have a different role with RB Nick Chubb out with an injury:

“In my experience in these kinds of situations is that 80-90 percent of the offense stays the same. They have their schemes. They are going to run their schemes that they are successful at running. Then you get a player or an adjustment so you maybe accentuate a player’s particular gifts. Obviously, he does have some ability in the pass game so some of those could be featured to try to get him more touches in that way.”

On DE Myles Garrett:

“He is a tremendous player, both run and the pass. As far as a pass rush, he has get off, he has the knee bend and instincts getting to the ball. He has that knack about getting the ball out and getting strip-sacks. In the run game, he is not just a one-dimensional player. He can play the run and the pass. You have to account for him. You have to know where he is. He certainly is a big-time playmaker for them. I just think they are strong. I think the Browns are strong all up front. I think their whole front four is strong. They are very good against the run. They get great pass rush. They cause turnovers. That is it a good formula. That is why they are 3-1 right now.”

On QB Baker Mayfield:

“I think Baker Mayfield is a playmaker. He is a winner. He has been a winner his whole career. He is accurate. He has a knack at making plays. Athletic. Can extend plays. Always has his eyes downfield. When he moves in the pocket, he is moving to make a play down the field. He keeps his eyes down the field. He can do that for them with the timing. He can make all the throws. Plays smart football. You can utilize him in a bunch of different ways. He is good at all the nakeds and boots and stuff like that. All the play-action stuff he does a really good job on. He has the accuracy and touch that a starting quarterback in this league needs to win consistently. He has really done a nice job and had a good career so far. It is still very early, but he has done very well.”

On Colts QB Philip Rivers:

“Philip is Philip. In my mind, he has elite accuracy. He has elite intelligence. He has elite leadership. He has elite playmaking ability. He is playing really good football right now. Our defense has been playing at a very high level so we have been in some games where we have called it and played it a little bit differently based on the circumstances of the game. This guy has all the experience in the world and can hurt you in a number of different ways, and physically is still the same player that he was five years ago when I was coaching him five years ago. I do not think he has had any diminishing skill physically. Really excited he is our quarterback.”

On putting together a strong OL and if he sees similar traits with the Browns OL:

“Yeah, we do. When I got here, (Colts General Manager) Chris (Ballard) and I, that was one thing we were on the same page off of Day 1. We were going to build a team inside out and really start with the O line and D line. I think the Browns have done a good job of kind of retooling and getting their O line where it is. Obviously, I know (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and have a ton of respect for Andrew personally and professionally. We worked together when he was here in Indy before. I was working with the quarterbacks at the time, and he would always give us evaluations on the opposing team’s defense. I could just tell this guy was a rising star. I think the Browns organization with (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski and Andrew Berry is in really good hands.”

On Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni:

“Love Nick. When I got here, the first thing I said to Chris Ballard was ‘There is one guy we have to get on this staff, and that is Nick Sirianni.’ We got him out of L.A. at the time. Thankfully (Chargers General Manager) Tom Telesco and the Chargers organization allowed Nick the opportunity to take the coordinator position. I was grateful for that. I think the world of Nick. I think he is a brilliant offensive mind. He is a tireless worker. He pays attention to detail. I think he has a dynamic coaching personality. I think he is going to be a great head coach in this league sooner rather than later. It is hard for me to have a higher opinion of Nick than I already do. I just think so much of him.”

On what has allowed the Colts defense to play at such a high level through the first four games:

“We are playing as a unit. We are playing smart. We have been good against the run. It starts with the O line and D line. It starts with stopping the run. That is why this week is going to be such a challenge going up against the best rushing attack in the NFL. It will really put that to the test. I think in the back end, we are playing the best that we have played. We are doing a good job of mixing up coverages and playing our technique, and then we are doing a good job of turning the ball over and then putting some pressure on the quarterback.”

On the additions of Colts DT DeForest Buckner and Colts CB T.J. Carrie:

“DeForest is a playmaker. Obviously, playing the 3-technique for us, which is a centerpiece in our defense. He is a game-wrecker. He is like Myles Garrett. He is a force against the run and the pass. Now, it looks different just for what we ask him to do, but his impact is felt on every play. On top of that, off the field, he is an A-plus leader and person. Could not be more happy to have him. T.J. Carrie is much the same way as far as A-plus person, a great leader and really good for our younger players. He has provided great play. (CB) Rock (Ya-Sin) got hurt and missed the one game, and T.J. came in and had a pick-six and played great football for us. He is a guy really from Day 1 in training camp every time we would talk about the roster and evaluate our personnel, we would say, ‘Man, I am glad T.J. is here.’ He is really a lot to our team and our roster in every way. Provides that veteran leadership. Smart, tough player with high character and great locker room presence.”

On if WR Odell Beckham Jr. looks back to normal after dealing with an injury all of last year and the challenge Beckham presents to a defense:

“He does look back to normal to me. When I was in Philadelphia for a couple years, I coached against him and got to see just how dynamic of a playmaker Odell is. He can stop and start on a dime but yet still has the speed to go the distance. He has unique instincts in the pass game and with the ball in his hand. He can hurt you in a lot of different ways. He can catch a slant route, make you miss and go the distance. He can beat you on a double move. He can run by you. You can throw a screen pass to him, and he is dynamic with the ball in his hands. He looks physically strong and healthy and obviously is a big-time playmaker. With the Browns offense playing the way it is, obviously, the run game being the centerpiece but along with that run game, Odell is the playmaker so we have to account for him and know where he is.”

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