Browns transcripts -- Monday, Oct. 12, 2020

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Rob McBurnett

Director, Community & Corporate Communications

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement:

“Going to start with injuries. We are going to put (CB) Greedy (Williams) on IR this week. He has a nerve injury in his shoulder and he is working so hard in rehab, but just the docs felt it was best shut him down and see how it responds. There is no surgery required at this point. There is potential that he is back this year. We just do not know, but I am going to obviously leave this to the medical experts and leave it to the trainers and the docs. That is where we are going to go with Greedy. Disappointing for him, but I still hold out hope, and he is doing everything he can.

“From the game, (G) Wyatt Teller strained his calf. That is going to be week to week, and see how he responds. (S) Ronnie Harrison (Jr.) is in the concussion protocol. You know how that goes, and we will see how he responds. (QB) Baker (Mayfield), as you know, the X rays were negative. He is sore, and then we will see how he works through it this week.

“On the game, really proud of the guys that stepped up. That is a great team win, and in great team wins, you need guys that step up. There are a bunch of guys where their number was called and they went right in there and performed – (T) Chris Hubbard, (WR) Rashard Higgins, (RB) D’Ernest Johnson, (S) Sheldrick Redwine and Ronnie Harrison – making big plays. I was really proud of those guys. That I think speaks to those guys preparing and making sure they are ready when their number was called.”

On how the team is minimizing penalties in recent weeks:

“I think you have to play with great technique, No. 1. I think the guys know what we are asking them in the technique department. A lot of it has to do with knowing your job. If you know where to line up and those types of things, that eliminates a lot of the foolish pre-snap penalties. I would give the credit to the players and understanding that they have to play at a certain tempo, and that is really not us playing sloppy.”

On if QB Baker Mayfield’s injury is specific to his ribs:


On what he hopes the lasting effect will be with players contributing from all over the depth chart:

“I just know the season is so long, and we are going to continue to need everybody. This week, it is going to be somebody else, and I promise you two weeks from now, it is going to be somebody else. That is just how it goes, and guys have to be ready. Again, I go back to the preparation part of it. They have to know their job cold, even if you do not get reps. That is the other thing with this. Chris Hubbard did not get very many guard reps this week, and he goes in there and performs. That is just how it goes when you are a backup. You are providing depth, and then at a moment’s notice you are a starter.”

On if it makes his job somewhat easier in ensure players know they have to be prepared at a moment’s notice, given the depth of players who continue to contribute when called upon as witnessed yesterday:

“It does. I want to also point out a guy like Rashard Higgins. He was inactive there for a couple games through no fault of his own – that is just how the numbers went – and he works so hard at practice and gives a great look. Whether he is on the scout team or special teams, it does not matter. He does his job, studies and prepares. He is a consummate pro. I am really proud of him, and I am happy for him that he was able to score last night.”

On LB Jacob Phillips’ injury status:

“We will see. He has this knee injury that he is going to keep working through, and we will see as this week goes.”

On if Phillips’ re-injured the same knee that he hurt Week 1:

[Nods yes]

On DE Olivier Vernon leaving yesterday’s game early and Vernon is OK:

“Yeah, he is OK.”

On if he the Browns are hopeful that DT Larry Ogunjobi and S Karl Joseph will return this week:

“Yeah, I am hopeful on both of those guys.”

On what DE Myles Garrett’s game-changing plays do for the team and if Garrett alleviates pressure on the rest of the defense because he requires so much attention from an offense:

“You are right, he gets a ton of attention. I can promise you on Wednesday morning in the opponent’s meeting rooms, they have a big circle on No. 95 and they may be referring to him as a game-wrecker because he has that ability to wreck the game from their perspective. He is applying pressure. Even when he is not getting home, he is applying pressure, and it should open things up for the rest of our guys. I think he is working really, really hard. He prepares on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and then he performs on Sunday.”

On how he celebrates after a win or if he is already thinking about the next week’s game once he gets home from a win:

“No, I am not thinking about the next week’s game. I can celebrate for the remaining hours of the evening, but typically, I sit down on the couch and have the TV watch me.”

On Hubbard’s versatility to contribute at both G and T when needed this season:

“That is a big deal when you are providing depth, if you can provide depth in a versatile way like Chris does and be able to go in there at tackle at guard. He has had center snap reps for us in practice. That is a huge deal. Versatility for any backup is so important because in a game you can’t dress everybody and then you really do not know where the injury may or may not occur. For him to be able to provide depth at every one of those spots is outstanding.”

On if the Browns do anything different on a Monday following a win:

“No, it is Monday. Time to work. Time to learn from the tape.”

On if Garrett’s takeaways and big plays are helping other Browns defensive players do their jobs:

“Yeah, we talk a lot about takeaways and how we do that and the technique, and that will always be a huge emphasis for us. Like you said, we have tried to put an emphasis on getting off the field. You get in these moments on third down, it also speaks to first and second down. If you can get them into a third-and-7-plus, it is way easier to get off the field than third-and-2 so to speak. I think they all go together, but our focus continues to be on playing technique sound and fundamentally sound, and that typically rewards you by getting off the field.”

On the difference in Mayfield’s performances in the first half compared to the second half during the past four weeks and if it is related to game management:

“First of all, I think I can do a much better job as a play caller in these moments where we need to get into a rhythm and get the offense into a rhythm. There are some calls that I really want back. I know I can do a better job. As it pertains to Baker in the second half, I think he is doing what it takes to win. We are going to be in some games where you are playing four-minute offense, so to speak, and you are playing conservatively and you are chewing up the clock, and then we know we are going to be in some games we are going to have to open it up. I think you saw in that first half, did a nice job. We were able to move the ball, and then for a bunch of reasons, we were not in the second half, but I would put a lot of that on me.”

On the emphasis of this week’s game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers:

“Just trying to go 1-0. I know and I understand fandom and I get all that, but within these walls, we are just trying to go 1-0.”

On Hubbard embracing the role as a backup on offense after initially signing to start at RT for the team:

“I can’t say enough good things about Chris. He is a key member of our social justice committee. He is a great teammate. His teammates really respect him. He does anything you ask of him. It is just kind of the makeup of Chris Hubbard.”

On if Teller is likely to miss this week, give he stated Teller is week to week rather than day to day:

“We will see, but it is a calf strain so I would put it as week to week, less so day to day.”

On if Teller’s injury also extends his Achilles, given its association with the calf:


On Teller’s season to date:

“Obviously, Wyatt, disappointed that he was in there and then out with that injury last night. He is playing hard. He is getting people on the ground. I think we have talked about him before, he is a very, very hard worker – one of the first guys out on the field and one of the last guys to leave and constantly working his technique. I know he will be fighting to get back out there.”

On Mayfield saying Sunday’s game was his worst of the season and what Mayfield can improve:

“I like that he is hard on himself. He wants to be great. I think he is doing some really nice things. For us, it always comes back to the turnover margin. Nobody is more disappointed at the two interceptions than he is. I think we can learn from them. You do not like those interceptions that to happen obviously but if you can learn from them and prevent them from happening in the future.”

On the Browns run game not producing as high of number yesterday and how much of it was due to the Colts defense and the absence of RB Nick Chubb:

“We knew it was going to be hard, and those are some hard yards – 130-some (124 rushing yards). The guys earned every single one of those. That is a testament to their defense. It is a physical front. They run. They did a very, very nice job. We stuck with it and grinded it out. That is what the game called for.”

On if the Browns OL and RBs still performed at the level they had in previous weeks:

“Yes, sir.”

On S Sheldrick Redwine sharing in postgame interviews that Redwine was staring at and talking to the ball to come to him prior to the interception:

“That was unique. We did talk a little bit about visualization last week so he took it to another level. Nice job, Sheldrick.”

On Mayfield saying he can play through his injury this week and if sometimes that is out of a player’s hands:

“Yeah, honestly every injury with our guys, we have to be smart about. I know Baker, I know he is tough and I know he is going to fight through this, but we will be smart.”

On the attention on Garrett this week, given the matchup against the Steelers, and what he wants to see from Garrett this week and in the game:

“He has done a great job this whole offseason, training camp and all through these first few ball games. He is all about ball. He is providing leadership to the defense and to the team. We know about the production, but I just think the things he does out there on the field and in the locker room, providing leadership is very impressive to me.”

On Redwine producing on Sunday and potentially getting more playing time on Sunday with Harrison currently in concussion protocol:

“Sheldrick has been really good. He is, as you saw, ready to go in there and do his job. That is so important when guys study and prepare like our guys do. When they get put in that spot, they can respond because they know what to do. I think Sheldrick is an example of a guy that really prepares hard during the week, knowing that his number could be called.”

On if RB Kareem Hunt was unavailable on D’Ernest Johnson’s 28-yard run in the fourth quarter and the blocks Johnson received from Hubbard and Higgins:

“We are just trying to be smart with Kareem. Very mindful of workload. Credit to (run game coordinator/running backs coach) Stump (Mitchell) there. He does a great job. We have a plan, we talk about it and then Stump executes it. He does a great job. You are right, talk about individual effort by No. 30, but then watching Hub and Rashard get those blocks, that is big time. Those three guys we just mentioned, you never know who it is going require to make a big play and win these games.”

On if he regrets the play call to have Mayfield pass on second down before Johnson’s run rather than run clock:

“Yeah, I think, again, learn from those. Could I have given him a better play call? Yes. I think he will learn from that play, as well, that we have to make sure that the clock is running on that play.”

On the Browns’ offensive potential with its ability to be successful running and throwing the ball:

“I think defenses go into a game trying to make you one dimensional a lot of times. For us, we want to be able to move the ball any which way we can, and it really depends on what the defense is doing and what they are susceptible to. That really is a week to week proposition.”

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WR Rashard Higgins:

On if his run blocking helps him earn more playing time:

“It is just knowing that if somebody goes down that I know I can step into the job and fulfill the needs. (Pass game coordinator/wide receivers) Coach (Chad) O’Shea does a hell of a job of making sure everybody is bouncing around, not knowing one position but knowing all positions, so when a time comes like that, I am able to bounce around to any position and I am able to get the job done.”

On how he remained ready and engaged after being inactive for the past two weeks:

“David Robinson, my receiver coach back in Dallas, he would always go about this saying, ‘Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.’ I just know it is only a matter of time until my time is coming. It just so happened to be the Colts game, and I showed up and did my thing.”

On playing for Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

“We all believe in him. Hell of a coach. He knows what he is doing. With a great leader like that, he knows the way. He is showing us the way, and if we do it correctly, we will win games. It is obviously showing. He is doing a hell of a job leading the pack. What a great leader he is for us.”

On scoring his first TD of the season:

“It felt like I have been there before. It was just like, ‘You know what? I miss you. You miss me. Let’s walk together (laughter).’ It was fun, having my teammates just over there and just getting a win. It has been a hell of a journey. You guys know. I have been here for 0-16, and just to see everything turn around, it is amazing – night and day. I can’t describe the feeling because I am still living in the moment right now. It is still unreal right now.”

On QB Baker Mayfield dealing with a rib injury and how Mayfield can rebound this week, given Mayfield said Sunday’s game was his worst of the season:

“His ass better get his ribs going (laughter). We have the Steelers this week. I know he will bounce back. That is just the type of guy he is – resilient, battle-tested. There is nothing he has not been through. Every week, we expect him to play. That is how we are going to move moving forward.”

On why his TD-to-reception ratio is so high:

“That I do not know. I am like a magnet to the end zone for some reason. All I can say is when the ball comes to me, I try to make the plays and it so happens when we get down to the red zone. I am not the fastest. I am smart, and I find a way to get open. At the end of the day, I realize I have been in the NFL for five years because I am smart and I know different things. That has helped me along this journey.”

On the Browns’ resiliency this year and the team’s ability to turn negative moments into positive ones:

“That is one thing Coach Stefanski always preaches on. Team coming in, we are both 3-1, we know at some point in time there is going to be a downfall and something is not going to go our way. He always harps on that. It is already instilled in us and second nature – something might happen, but do not let that outcome make or break us. Regardless of the outcome, just keep moving forward, keep pounding and keep pounding, and at the end of the day. we are going to look up at the scoreboard and see who is on top.”

On how the team is approaching this week’s matchup against the Steelers:

“It is a big game because it is the next game, a division game. We have a lot of film to watch on these guys. Moving forward, we are going to hone down on them, see what they are good at and see what they are weak at and try to exploit those weaknesses.”

On why the Browns team is ‘legitimate’ this year:

“I say we are sound. We are like a bend-but-don’t-break team. In the past, there have been times where let’s say Baker threw an interception and the team just gets down. It is like, ‘No, you know what? We are fixing to go back out and get the ball back.’ We are all feeding off of each other’s energy. This COVID thing sucks, but we still have the best fans in the world. Although everybody is not able to come to the games, having the crowd noise, we feed off of that. In this bubble, we have to feed off of each other so that is exactly how we are playing the game. We are feeding off of each other.”

On the Browns fully embracing the mantra of going 1-0 each week and if the team pulling for and feeding off of each other factors into the ability to take that mindset:

“Absolutely. We just have to pull for each other. Exactly what you said and what I said, we just have to feed off of each other’s energy.”

On the Browns’ success in the run game and pass game and how that impacts opposing defenses:

“You have to keep them guessing. A team should never know what you are doing. Make everything look the same. If that is a keeper where Baker is scrambling to the left, make it look like a run but it is a pass. It is just little things and little details like that that Coach Stefanski harps on at practice. It makes it a big thing in the game. That is a 20-yard gain now just because you carried out a fake. It is just little things like that, and it is helping us win.”

On what makes the Steelers such a tough opponent at Heinz Field: 

“They are always a sound team. Like I have been telling you about us, they are a bend-but-don’t-break team, and they always feed off of each other’s energy. We have to go in with a clear mindset of it is the next game, it is a division game and it is a huge game for us, but it is the next opponent so we have to get ready for them. They have to get ready for us.”

On his block on RB D’Ernest Johnson’s 28-yard run to help seal the win:

“When that play was called, I was not even supposed to be in that position. (WR) Jarvis (Landry) was supposed to be right there. It just so happened that I know the position. Came in motion, D’Ernest came to my side and everything was just set up. I saw him, I tried to lay the wood down on him and D’Ernest was going for 20 or 30 yards. Just doing my job. That is all that was. Just doing my job.”

On if the team made a big deal of his block when reviewing the game film:

“‘Nice job,’ but that is my job to do it. It was not just outstanding, but it was my job to do it. That is all I can say about that one.”

On the benefit of the Browns rotating personnel at WR and other positions:

“At practice, we have a lot reps where guys are moving around, like I have been saying. That only prepares us to stay ready for our opportunity. There is one ball going around, but you never know who it might go to. You stay ready so you do not have to get ready.”

On how Stefanski has handled his play time this season and his opportunity to make an impact in yesterday’s win:

“Coach believes in me. I would not be on the team for no reason. He knows what I am capable of, and I do at a high level every time. He kept me on the team for a reason. He believed in me. He trusts in me. The whole staff upstairs, they believe in me. They know what I am capable of. There is nothing to question. I am on the team for a reason. When I am called upon, I have to do my job.”

On comparing how he was used in the offense and felt last season compared to this season:

“I would say it has been a long journey. I do not know where to go with that one. The staff believes in me. I have said this in an interview before, but there is nothing like someone else believing in you more than you believe in yourself.”

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T Chris Hubbard:

On the key to staying ready to contribute this season and making an impact in a big win against the Colts and their No. 1 defense in the NFL yesterday:

“My preparation is always something that I take really precious time at. I really hone in on what we have that week. Every position, I always try to go down the line and just figure out what I could get better at and just follow the people that are in front of me basically. Just seeing what works for them and also just trying to find things that works for me on Sunday’s. The key to the victory was just to stay ready and ultimately just continue to do my job at a high level. We always have that next man up mentality. We just want to be able to just take control and keep fighting.”

On how much pride he will take in keeping the RG position strong, given G Wyatt Teller has been playing well and Teller may be unavailable for the Steelers game:

“Watching Wyatt, it is amazing to see. He works his butt off and you see that on film game after game. I just want to continue that role and continue to do well in that position, not only for me but for him too, because I know him looking at the film, he will be like, ‘Man, I can learn from you’ or ‘I can learn from him.’ Some of the things that I tried to look at and just try to take advantage of is just getting better. He has been getting better, and I am going to continue to hold this spot down for him.”

On why this Browns team seems so ‘legitimate’ after five games, given his experience with playoff-caliber teams in Pittsburgh:

“(Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski and the whole coordinators and everybody is doing a great job. It is just staying together, sticking to the plan and making the right adjustments when need be. I feel like whenever we step on the field, we are able to just put up as many points as we can. Everybody is sticking together like glue. We are working hard and we are making sure that we are all on the same page. That is ultimately the key of playing football is you want to be on the same page and the communication has to be at an all-time high level. That is what it takes to be a playoff contender team. As well, you have to have depth too because injuries may happen and you want to continue to make sure that you are ready when that time comes.”

On what has impressed him most about Stefanski as head coach:

“I just like the fact that he is willing to put it all out there. He is willing to make the right adjustments, as well as make the right play calls. Like I said before, he is just keeping us all together and making sure that we are accountable for each other. That is how you win games.”

On how much time he spends practicing at G and C during a normal week:

“For guard, I literally had one rep at guard this past week. That is something I just constantly try to look at the position and watch the person that is in front of me. Just picking up new tools that (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan has been giving us. He is always teaching us the right techniques and the things to do on Sunday. That is pretty much what I am capable of doing.”

On if he was discouraged when the Browns signed T Jack Conklin in the offseason, given he had been starting at RT:

“Not at all. This is a business. I know that for a fact. You have to constantly just be ready. No matter what, this game is going to have its changes. Jack is doing a great job handling his job. I am just here to continue to fill the role and continue to help this team win no matter whenever they need me. I would kick the ball if they asked me to kick the ball. I am constantly trying to learn the game. I missed out on your question about center – I take center snaps after practice every day with coach Callahan.”

On if it difficult to pull at G after not having many reps at it during a practice week:

“No, for us, the paly calls are legit. The thing is you have to flip it in your head, like on the side that you play on. If it is right guard or left guard, I just have to flip that play in my head. At the line I was thinking like, ‘OK, it is me that has to pull. I am ready.’ Those are things that you think about before the play has been called. You try to assess your assignment before it even happens. That is one of the things that I looked at before I got to the line.”

On balancing the importance of this Sunday’s matchup against the Steelers with a 1-0 mentality:

“The assignment all week from week in and week out is to go 1-0. That is our motto. Going into this game, it is a big game. It is a rivalry game. I feel like every game is a big game so no matter the circumstances or who we play, each week is a big game. Going into Pittsburgh, we know what is at stake. Like I said before, we are looking to go 1-0. That is the motto.”

On if he has ever started a NFL game at G:

“Never. That way my first one [playing at guard]. It was it was surreal. I never thought about playing guard in a game before. It just never crossed my mind.”

On how valued he feels being able to contribute at all five OL positions:

“It is a humbling experience. It is amazing to be talked about and being able to hold that weight down. It is something that you never want to see any injuries happen. You never want to see anything happen to anybody, but just being able to be ready and stay constantly ready, that is something that this league is about.”

On if he has ever played guard in a NFL game before:

“I have done it in preseason but not in a regular season game.”

On if this scheme fits him better than past offensive schemes during his career:

“Oh yeah, I love this scheme, the zone scheme. It just shows the athleticism of the offensive line and shows us how we can be able to maneuver, run and just open holes for the outside zone for the running backs. It just shows a lot of skills and a lot of placement. This is this is something that I have always loved this scheme of offense. It is a very high-powered offense to be in.”

On if he has seen anything different from QB Baker Mayfield this year in terms of leadership:

“He is a leader. He is very vocal when it comes to that huddle. He needs us and he wants a lot out of us. Making plays and making adjustments. When it is crucial timing, he is always coming into the huddle making sure like, ‘Man, we got to get this. This is a time crunch, and we have to take control.’ He says those things, and that is what you need in the quarterback. I always look up to Baker because when he came into the league it was a different role for him at first and then he got his opportunity. Then you started seeing the traits that everybody was talking about as far as him being a leader and everything, and he is able to take control. SI see that in him. I love the dude. He works his butt off, and he is going to continue to get better each week in and week out.”

On if Mayfield will do everything in his power to be ready for Sunday:

“Oh yeah, he will. I know for a fact he will.”

On how he prepares for potentially playing different positions in a game:

“My mind runs 1,000 miles an hour. For me, I really have to meditate. Honestly, I really have to meditate and just tell myself, ‘Calm down. You got this. One play at a time.’ My technique and my coaching will take care of itself on the field. Those are some of the things that I look to that help me and get me ready for time to battle.”

On Callahan and how Callahan has helped the Browns OL this year:

“I love his enthusiasm. He is a guy that comes to work happy every single day and you are going to get a smile from him every single day and you are going to get the very best coaching from him every single day. He is a guy that constantly hones on technique and making the right the right adjustments. He is always doing that during a play call. Even when we come to the sideline during the game, he is like, ‘Hey, what did you see here? Hey, could we run that again? Can we make different adjustments? Can we make this game or this play right?’ Those are some of the things that you see out of Coach Callahan that raise my antenna and keeps me on board with him because he knows what he is doing. He is a great coach, and I am glad we have him.”

On matching up with the Steelers when both teams have been playing well:

“Oh, it is fun. Oh man, this is going to be fun going into this game. I think for the most part, the intensity of the game is going to be at an all-time high because we are a different unit this year and we have a different scheme. We are a very hungry team this year. We are very hungry. Those are some of the things that you will see on Sunday.”

On challenges the Steelers defense presents, particularly related to the wide zone offense:

“Our tight ends, they are going to be ready. I know for a fact that because they are going to have to take care of (Steelers LB) Bud (Dupree) as well as (Steelers) T.J. (Watt) when it comes to the wide-zone scheme. As far as the tackles, they will be there to help them and to assist what they can see as far as on the outside and make those big plays that we need. They are a gap-front team as far as controlling the line. For years, I have seen them practice that. I have seen it firsthand, first come-first serve being over there when I was over there in Pittsburgh. We are going to set the edge and make sure we get this wide zone running.”

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