Browns transcripts -- Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020

Rob McBurnett

Director, Community & Corporate Communications

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

On WR Jarvis Landry playing through a broken rib and what it means in the big picture for the team:

“That is the player that Jarvis is. That is why he is a leader of this football team. I made a big deal of it in that Indy game. We knew how physical that game was going to be, and he was a team captain for a reason in that game because I know he is a wide receiver, but he is a physical player that everybody feels when he is on the field. He gives great example to really all the guys.”

On if he had an appreciation for Landry’s leadership and Landry’s toughness prior to joining the Browns:

“I had never met him and did not know much about him. Obviously, I think that is until you are around guys and understand what makes them tick, you just know the player, you know the jersey and you know the helmet but you do not know the guy.”

On if he sees the rib injury affecting Landry and as a coaching staff do they have to protect Landry at all:

“Do I see it affecting him? I am sure he is sore and I am sure he feels it when he plays, but I think he is playing well so no, I can’t tell you that I noticed it. In terms of protecting him, he is medically cleared and ready to roll, and he is out there and he wants to play.”

On if there is an update on RB Nick Chubb’s status and if Chubb could be available after the bye week:

“No real substantive update other than he is progressing and he is right on schedule. I will wait until they tell me he is ready to go. I can’t speculate, though.”

On if Browns players are practicing ‘with a little more fire’ this week:

“No, I think the guys have been pretty focused throughout. Yesterday was a good practice, and guess what? Today has to be a good practice. That is kind of the mindset that the guys when they walk through those doors they have to be ready to work.”

On if the atmosphere seems more determined or different:

“We were indoors yesterday so the speakers were a little bit louder maybe (laughter)?”

On the Bengals defense, particularly given new roles for tenured players like Bengals DT Geno Atkins and Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap:

“They are playing a lot of players. They are rotating the linebackers in there. They are rotating along the defensive line. They are rotating the secondary. Our guys really have to go to work this week and understand your opponent. Sometimes you play those teams where it is the same 11 guys and then the nickel comes in to replace the linebacker, but it is the same players. Really have to go to school. I think they have some linebackers that can really run and some young guys. You are right, we have to see with their personnel changes if that is affecting their schematic changes, and we will kind of see that early on in this game.”

On if he has noticed a difference in the Bengals WRs since Week 2:

“I can’t speak necessarily to the difference in the first game, but like I have said, I think it is a really good wide receiver corps that they have at their disposal. They will line up with four wide receivers at times. They really want to utilize those guys and get them in space. They have big receivers and small quick receivers. They kind of have a full complement of guys.”

On Bengals WR Tee Higgins:

“Fits right into that group. I think he is flashing for them. I think they are seeing the big play ability with him. I just think it is a solid group overall.”

On how S Karl Joseph looked returning to practice from injury and what Joseph brings to the Browns defense:

“I would say he is progressing coming off that injury. We will see how he does today responding to working yesterday for the first time out there at practice. Karl brings a veteran presence, a smart football player, plays fast and kind of fits what we want to be.”

On if S Andrew Sendejo will not participate in practice again today: 

“He will be back limited today.”

On if LB Mack Wilson is getting healthier with more time passing since his knee injury and if Wilson is itching to get more playing time: 

“I would say yes to both. I think you see him, he is getting knocked around in there. He is, I am sure, getting cut, and people are hitting the knee and then he bounces back up and makes a great play chasing down the jet sweep. I do see him progressing. A long season. With all of our guys, I expect all of their roles to adjust and grow throughout this year.”

On what was most impressive about Bengals QB Joe Burrow’s performance in Week 2: 

“He kept firing. They kept coming back. He did a great job. They were 4-4 on fourth down. I thought his pocket movement was really impressive for a young player. He stepped up. He slid right. He slid left. He is a good young player.”

On where Burrow has grown during the past five weeks: 

“I think in all areas. I can’t really specifically tell you one spot that he has shown more growth than the others. With these young players, these are great valuable reps, these game reps. Without an offseason, he is seeing things that I am sure they could not give him a ton of looks in training camp as you are installing a system for a rookie quarterback. He is just banking all these game reps and getting better because of it.”

On Mayfield, Landry and RB Kareem Hunt playing through injuries and what that shows about the toughness of the team: 

“It is the National Football League. I think those guys get it. No one feels 100 percent in Week 7 right now so they are pushing through injuries. Some guys are just gritting their teeth and pushing through, and that is what you have to do. Those three guys in particular and then we have a bunch of guys that I think are playing, practicing and pushing through injury that mentality-wise is just not going to hold them out.”

On if Hunt would potentially not be asked to do as much due to the injury if Chubb was available: 

“I do not know. I do not think so.”

# # #

WR Jarvis Landry:

On confidence that the Browns offense can get the pass game going: 

“It starts with practice. It starts with coming out here and making sure that we are doing everything that we can do, being in the right spots, making the plays here in practice and continuing the gain the trust of the coaching staff to be able to get it called on Sundays.”

On if he got hit in the eye on Sunday when he missed a couple of plays: 

“Yeah, I think my visor or something hit me in the eye, but I was able to come back after a couple of plays.”

On if it bothers him when he has to miss practices like he did last week: 

“Of course. Of course. I love practicing. I love being out there with the guys. It is always tough to miss practice.”

On if looking to come back from last week’s loss is different than bouncing back after the Week 1 loss to the Ravens or similar: 

“No, it is all the same. We do want one loss to turn into two. (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski, that was one of the first things that he told me and that is the first thing that he told us as a team. We do not want to turn one loss into two. You have to come back in here, come back in the building, get ready to work and put a good plan together to go out there and beat the Bengals this Sunday.”

On how tough it is for WR Odell Beckham Jr. to receive a two-year ban from LSU facilities: 

“I have no knowledge of the situation, but I know it is going to be tough for him being that he is so tied into that school and the history of the program.”

On how Beckham’s message to the Browns offense midway through last Sunday’s game was received: 

“He is a leader of our team. Anytime he speaks, everybody is listening. I can only say that it was taken the right way, but we went out there and we were not able to put it together. Sometimes that happens. That would never make him shy away from continuing to be a leader and saying what he needs to say, and that goes for every leader that is on this team.”

On if the mood feels the same as it did after the loss to the Ravens and if there is a belief that the Browns can rebound in a similar fashion: 

“I think the belief is in each other, coming out here each and every day and understanding that we still have to get better and there are still areas of our team that we still have to get better. We still have to stop turning the ball over. All of the things that got us beat in Week 1 showed up again this past week. We have to find a way to eliminate those things. With that being eliminated, that comes with making more plays and having more opportunities.”

On if the turnovers are happening because of better competition or if it is due to the Browns’ execution: 

“We had two turnovers. Both of those turnovers were just for us if you look back to everything that we have practiced and talked about, they are on us. Guys are out there trying to make plays, and you can never get mad with that or feel some type of way about that, but then you understand, too, when you are playing against great football teams that know how to manage the game and know how to make your defense stay out there as long as possible, it can get tough to win those games. You look at any team in the NFL, you turn the ball over and the percentages of you winning that game goes down dramatically. We put our defense in a tough spot a lot of times with those turnovers. For us, we have to figure out a way to play complementary football.”

On how he learned he was being traded to Cleveland from Miami: 

“I had a cystic fibrosis event at Hard Rock Stadium that same day. I was getting ready to head there to head to Hard Rock Stadium to put on my first ever cystic fibrosis event in South Florida.”

On Stefanski being hard on himself after the loss and if he has lost any confidence in Stefanski’s leadership: 

“No. No. No chance. One of the things that I have always continued over our conversations, whether it is me to other players or me to coaches and having conversations, is we have a hard job. Our job is not easy. Our job is hard. We get criticized and critiqued whether we do well or whether we do bad. For us, we have to just know that everything inside of our building that we can control, we need to control that. Come out on the practice field. His motto has always been just come to work. We are doing that. We are doing that each and every week. Hopefully, that all translates to wins, but sometimes, it does not, and that is just what it is.”

On if the Browns picked it up more in practice yesterday: 

“I think the intensity of practice has been the same since Day 1. I think guys are out here working hard. Guys are practicing through injuries. Guys are retaining new information each and every day we come in the building and then taking it out to the practice field and executing at a high level. I would say our attention to detail and our focus is definitely here.”

On if he is healthy enough to return punts if needed: 

“If needed, yeah. Maybe that is when guys get (special teams coordinator) Mike (Priefer) on here and throw that up for him and you guys can lobby for me a little bit (laughter). Honestly, DPJ (WR Donovan Peoples-Jones) is doing an excellent job back there. I have been on this team and whether I have been back there or somebody else has been back there, that has been an area that our team needs some production. He has been doing a hell of a job back there.”

On Browns players playing through injuries is a good sign that everyone is bought in and pulling in the same direction: 

“Yeah. It is Cleveland, right? It is blue-collar. Whatever it takes. I think that we have that mindset and that mentality here. These guys come and show that each and every day. We want to be smart. We want to protect our guys, as well. If they can go, we always like for them to be out there at least participating.”

On what Browns skill players can do to help QB Baker Mayfield: 

“Again, we have our jobs. Whether we are going to talk to Coach Stefanski or having a conversation with CO (pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea) and hopefully that conversation gets to Coach Stefanski in the right way that we can get things called or whatever it is. For us as receivers, we can only make the plays when we are given the opportunities. I think there are a lot of guys in the receiving room who are ready to make plays, myself included, and we just need some more opportunities.”

On if the Browns WRs are doing a good job of ‘staying patient’ for opportunities: 

“Yeah, we are. We are. We are. It is tough, but it is part of it. It is a team game. As receivers, a lot of our success is solely based on the 9-10 other guys. Everybody, again, we have hard jobs. Everybody, again, is coming out here and working as hard as they can, and everybody is trying to win. There is not one person that is in this building or that takes the field is not trying to win or when a play call comes in that Coach Stefanski does not think that it is the right call. For us, we just have to continue to trust and believe in each other.”

On if taking a significant hit in the Colts game has had any lingering effects: 

“That hit actually broke one of my ribs so I am still kind of dealing with that and playing through that. Just kind of out here in practice doing whatever I can and giving it my all on Sundays.”

On if he has broken a rib before: 

“No. Never.”

On playing through a broken rib: 

“It hurts. It hurts. It hurts. Depending on the play or whatever, at times it is bearable, but we have done a good job of making sure that I am getting protection here throughout the week and making sure that I cover it up and do whatever I need to do to play on Sundays.”

On if sleeping or breathing has been challenging: 

“All of the normal stuff. All of the normal stuff that I guess one would anticipate from having a rib injury.”

# # #

G Joel Bitonio:

On what the Browns OL learned from watching the Steelers game film: 

“It is a whole array of things. Like you said and I kind of touched on it, I do not think it was every play, but I think there was one guy on most plays that either made an assignment mistake or got beat. Those things when you play a good defense, you have to be able to fix. They tried to collapse the pocket and they got us a few times. I think us just being a little bit firmer on the inside to give our tackles a chance on a few plays. There was a lot that we could do better. When you play a great defense, one or two guys making a mistake on a play really shuts it down for you.”

On how offensive line coach Bill Callahan approached practice on Wednesday: 

“We went back to work. It was a normal work Wednesday. We went hard. We were in full pads hitting. Just getting back to that training camp-style practice. It was a good one yesterday, but we needed it. We needed to refocus, get back going and try to get back on the winning train this week.”

On the Browns’ lack of production in the run game against the Steelers and confidence the team can bounce back: 

“From a game flow perspective, you go down 10-0 early, it is hard to stick exactly to the run game. Then when you run and you only get three or four yards on a play or you lose a yard, the coach loses confidence and those type of runs. We did not run quite as much outside zone because they have such good edge guys in (Steelers LB Bud) Dupree and (Steelers LB) T.J. Watt, but there were yards there. Like I said earlier, we were one guy away a lot of the times on a couple of those early runs by (RB) Kareem (Hunt), where we are getting 7, 8 or 9 yards and we were really one guy away from breaking for a touchdown. As the game kind of went on, the short-yardage stuff was not good enough. We did not execute good enough on that. It was usually one or two guys away on a play where it is like, ‘Alright, we would have gotten more production.’ Then kind of the game flow. You get down and you have to try and throw the ball more, and against the front like that, it is tough to do.”

On if the next step for the Browns offense is to be able to counter when a team is taking away the team’ strengths: 

“Yeah, we have to improve. That is one of our things where, ‘Hey, if they are not giving us this, what can we take advantage of and do?’ We ran some gap scheme stuff and we actually had some success early, but we just could not keep it going. I think later in the game we had a couple of negative plays and that just loses the confidence of the coaching staff.”

On what it does for a team’s morale knowing people like WR Jarvis Landry are playing through pain: 

“It is big. Jarvis is a tough dude. I do not know what injuries everybody is going through and stuff like that, but for him to go out there and battle through those things is a testament to him. He is prideful. He wants to play. I think he has a pretty good streak of playing most of the games in his career, and he is over 100 now. That is just something that I think it is a mentality and a pride thing, and he wants to be out there for his teammates. It is something you want every guy on your team to be. Obviously when, guys are injured are injured and you can’t play and you are going to make things worse. I am sure it is very painful, but the guys that can play and the guys that fight through it, it is a testament to them and it shows what type of teammates they are and what type of people they really are off the field, as well.”

On expectations from the Bengals DL this week: 

“I think they are much improved. I think they were pretty banged up that first time. I know (Bengals DT) Geno (Atkins) is back, and they are kind of working him in a little bit slowly, mostly on pass rush downs. (Bengals DT) Mike Daniels has the opportunity to come off IR this week. The guys I think are more comfortable in the scheme now and they are doing a few different things than they were earlier in the year. You can see they are taking their chances and their opportunities. They are still banged up – (Bengals DE) Sam (Hubbard) is out, (Bengals DT) D.J. Reader and those guys – but they have guys that are trying to do their assignment and trying to do their thing. It is going to be challenging. I think anytime you play a division opponent the second time, there are always new wrinkles and new schemes, and it is going to be what team can kind of adjust on the fly and see what the other team is doing against them.”

On if he has learned anything new about Head Coach Kevin Stefanski from Stefanski’s approach things coming of the loss: 

“He is consistent. I kind of knew that, but he is consistent. We lost pretty bad Week 1, as well. It is just one of those things, it sucks. We wanted to compete, we wanted to play better and we wanted to do all these things, but we can’t do anything about the last game. All we can do is move forward. That was kind of what he stressed all week so far and after the game. We have to learn from it. That is the thing is it is one loss on our season. We are 4-2. At the end of the year, whatever our record is, it is not going to be like, ‘Man, Pittsburgh, bad loss. Baltimore, bad loss.’ It is going to be whatever your win-loss record is. We are going to improve from it and grow from it. We can’t let one turn into two. That has just been our motto this week. We are ready to work. I know Cincinnati is going to come and give us a heck of a game. It is going to be a big challenge for us. His consistency and his leadership of, ‘Hey, we are not going to turn this into two. We are going to learn from it, though. You have to have tough skin because we are going to coach you hard and we are going to teach from the things that we made mistakes on so hopefully, they do not happen again.’”

On the Browns being 4-2 as it relates to the playoff picture:

“I think that is a little ways away from us. We are really just trying to focus on Cincinnati, but it is a good start. The two losses we had, we did not perform up to expectations. I think that is tough and I think that makes those losses feel worse, but as a group, we have won a few games and we are trying to move on and trying to get to 5-2 this week, which will be big. It is good to be in position. You never want to be like, ‘Man, they are out of the playoffs already. They are 0-6.’ That is not what you want to hear. We are 4-2, and we know we have things that we want to improve on and work on and that it is a day-to-day, week-to-week business.”

On if he was surprised by ‘the lack of fire’ from the team last week:

“From a mentality standpoint, at least from my position, we were OK to start the game, but then you give up a field goal and you throw a pick-six and I think that momentum kind of hurt us and that is where you kind of see the low in energy. Pittsburgh is a well-coached team and they come to play, and we have to meet or exceed that same energy that they have. It is different when there are 5,000 fans or 7,000 fans in the stands, but it is our job to come out and meet those expectations and really surpass them. No matter what happens in the NFL, the game is so long that you can be down 10 points. We saw it against Dallas. Teams can come back from a huge amount of points in this league, and it is focusing on that next play. I really did think like for most guys the mindset was good. We got down bad in the second half, but the mindset was good. We were trying to just execute a little bit better each time we went out there.”

On if RB Kareem Hunt is anxious to have a breakout performance:

“I have not seen any anxious behavior, but I know he wants to play better and he wants us the offense to play better, and that means he is probably going to run a little bit better. It is one of those things where he has been the leading rusher in the NFL before and he understands what it takes to kind of do those things. There are ups and downs in a season, but the O line wants to get him going. (RB) Nick (Chubb) is a great running back and we miss him obviously, but Kareem is a dude, too. We want to get him going. I think as an O line, we are more stressed about that than he is.”

On confidence Stefanski will be able to make the correct adjustments with the first head coaching opportunity to face an opponent for the second time in a season:

“We are confident in him. He has done a good job this year. Like you said, they are going to have something special for us, but hopefully we have something – offense, defense and special teams – special for them and we can figure it out. It is his first opportunity as a head coach, but he has been around gameplans and he has coaches that have been around gameplans where every year you play at least [twice]. Some teams you play three times if you go to the playoffs. I think we are ready for it. I think we are ready for the opportunity. We had a good day of practice yesterday, and we are ready to stack a good one today.”

On his role this week in helping QB Baker Mayfield rebound from a tough loss, as well as helping the Browns pass game continue to advance:

“I think Baker’s mindset is fine. Obviously, he is disappointed in the way we performed as a team, but I think he is ready to go out there and give it another go. It is such a fast week. You get in, you review the film on Monday and you are off Tuesday, but quarterbacks are never off. They are focused. They are learning. We have to focus on Cincinnati or it turns into two losses instead of just one and winning the next game. I think he is in a good mindset. We talked after the game, and I told him that we did not protect him well enough and that was on us. I think mentally he is fine. He is ready to take that next step. As far as the offense goes, I think winning cures that. Obviously, we have not gotten guys as many touches that they have in the past, but if we are winning games, I think the guys have the right mindset in this locker room to where we are going to be fine.”

# # #

LB Mack Wilson:

On WR Jarvis Landry playing through a broken rib and what it means to see a teammate playing through injury: 

“Most importantly, I feel like it just shows what type of guy he is or what type of guy anybody could be. It is crazy when you have guys on the team who are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team, to help win and to give us any chance to win. It is crazy. It is something that you can’t really even put into words because guys like Jarvis work extremely hard, and he is one of those leaders who has been here for a couple of years. I am just trying my best to be one of those guys like Jarvis as my experience and my years come along.”

On if the Browns defense not getting any takeaways against the Steelers reinforces how important creating turnovers is to the team’s success: 

“That is something that we have harped on ever since our first day back in the building together. We talked about how we want to create takeaways and how we want to make that a priority in our defense. We did not do a good job of that this past week, obviously. We just try to create takeaways to set our offense up to be successful and to give us the best chance to win the game.”

On if the Bengals offense presents opportunities to create takeaways: 

“Yeah, definitely. The first time we played them, they threw the ball 60 times. For a quarterback to throw the ball 60 times, that sounds like at least two to three interceptions to me. We just have to do a great job with making sure everybody is locked in, playing within the gameplan and just attack the ball.”

On if he admires Landry’s determination to keep his consecutive game streak going despite facing multiple injuries during his career: 

“Definitely. That shows a lot about him. That basically just lets you know nothing will stop him from anything. He has been doing a great job here in Cleveland with being consistent and with being a leader with fighting through adversity. When times get tough, he always finds a way to push himself through. I feel like that is spreading all around the team because that is something that does not go unnoticed, and we all see it and we all realize that there are guys out on the field who are hurting every day who are pushing to do whatever it takes to help the team.”

On if Landry pushing through injury is more inspiring during a game or if that pushes everyone throughout the week of practice, as well: 

“Yeah, definitely. He may make a catch, make the wrong move with his body or maybe fall to the ground, and you can see him reaching for his ribs. We just know he is hurting. We just know that Jarvis is a warrior or whoever it may be is a warrior to be able to go out there and compete on Sundays and still try their best to give us a shot to win a game.”

On if the Browns defense is emphasizing anything in particular this week following last week’s loss: 

“We just have to remain focused. It is the next game. We learn from the things we did not do well the past game, and we just carry it over to this game with a new mindset, a new focus. Just getting ready to go out and compete and give ourselves the best chance to play great as a team and win.”

On where he is in the learning curve of his career: 

“I would say it has gotten a lot better from last year, obviously. You can see it in my play a little bit. I have gotten more comfortable. I am able to kind of see things before it happens. That just comes with experience. With me starting 14 games last year, it kind of helps me out a lot this year. I am still learning. I am still growing. I am young. I am just going to continue to take it one day at a time.”

On if he is physically feeling 100 percent: 

“I feel like I am getting there. I am not 100 percent yet. It is something that I have been pushing myself every day to kind of get back to being me. I am just going to continue to do whatever the guys tell me to do as far as treatment wise to kind of get back to 100 percent.”

On LB B.J. Goodson wearing the headset on defense: 

“We have B.J. Goodson doing it. Coming into the offseason program and into now, my coach was saying I am capable of playing any of the three positions. They decided to play me at WILL, but if I have to play MIKE, I can. B.J. has been doing a great job with that, (LB) Jacob (Phillips) or whoever is in at MIKE, they have all been doing a great job with that, but it is something that I am capable of doing for sure.”

On asking special teams coordinator Mike Priefer to play special teams following the kickoff-return TD against the Colts: 

“First of all, special teams is something that I take pride in. That was something that my freshman year in college that I played and I went 100 percent on it. Just being at the next level, I know that special teams is a big part of being successful in his league. It is a big part of winning. Them returning a kickoff return for a touchdown is totally unacceptable. I kind of got pissed about it, and I went up to Coach Prief and was like, ‘Coach Prief, put me on kickoff. Put me on special teams. Whatever you need me to do, I will do it because I want to help the team win as much as possible. I want to be able to put us in position to win. Whatever you need me to do, I will do it.’ The next couple of days, he texted me and said, ‘I am going put you on the twos on punt, kickoff and different special teams, and we will just go from there.’ Like you said, he knows I am still recovering from my injury, but I am like, ‘I am here Coach. I am suiting up so whatever you need me to do, I will do it.’ That is just my mindset as a football player.”

On if it has been frustrating that he has not been able to be on the field as much as last year due to his injury: 

“Yeah, definitely. It has been tough. I have days where I just kind of reflect on me last year as a player and where I am right now. With me getting hurt, I feel like I took a few steps back. Like I said, I am trying my best to get back to 100 percent so I can play more and so I can do whatever it takes to help us win. That is really it. I want to be on the field as much as possible. I want to play. Everybody knows that. I just have to approach it as one day at a time, just be there for my teammates and my guys in the LB room and just do whatever. Whatever they need me to do, I am here. At this moment, it is just all about what can I to help us win.”

On if he misses not being used on the nickel package and if that is a possibility as he gets back to 100 percent: 

“I miss it a lot. Like you said, being able to be on the field and not really come off, I miss it. I feel like me being on the field more would help me make more plays and things like that to put us in situations to win. As far getting more playing time, that is totally up to the coaches. Like I said, I am just going to continue to take it one day at a time, continue to bust my ass and continue to just do all the little things right to show them that I am recovering well and that I am ready to do whatever when they put me in the game.”

On the boost S Ronnie Harrison Jr. returning can give to the Browns defense: 

“It is a huge boost. Even when we first got Ronnie, I was pumped. I was telling the guys on defense that he is going to be a big spark for us. He brings a lot of swag to the defense. He is just a ballplayer. He can do it all. We are happy to have him back. Ronnie is a great guy. He is a great leader. He works hard. He is not one of those guys who is not going to do too much talking. He would rather lead by his actions on the field and on the practice field. It is a huge boost to have him back in the back end. I can’t wait to see how he continues to contribute to the team and continues to make plays for us.”

# # #

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer:

On how P Jamie Gillan is handling the groin injury and how Gillan performed on Sunday: 

“He is doing fine. He has had several days off for rest. Just something that was very minor. He is good. I thought he did a pretty good job this past Sunday.”

On if he believes Gillan has found more consistency this season: 

“I do. I think what he needs is he needs a really outstanding game like he had several early last year that gave him a lot of confidence. He is still a young player, and that is no excuse. He needs to be more consistent, but like any young player at any position, you need to have some confidence. Once he has a good game and gets a few good punts under his belt, you are going to see him, I think, really take off and be a more consistent performer for us.”

On special teams points of emphasis this week in the second matchup with the Bengals and if the Browns will plan to keep the ball out of Bengals S Brandon Wilson’s hands in the return game: 

“They did a nice job of blocking it up last time we played them. We did a terrible job of covering. Let’s put it in his hands. Let’s go cover him. I have a lot of confidence in our guys, and maybe too much confidence early on apparently. I think we have guys that have a lot of want to, and we have to outplay play those guys. They wanted it more than we did last time we played them. We have to want it more than they do. That is quite simply the best way to put it. Is he a good returner? Yeah, he is outstanding, but I am a pretty competitive guy. I want to get after this kid and see if we can do a lot better than we did last time we played them.”

On why the Browns do not simply kick the ball out of the end zone for a touchback on every kickoff possible: 

“I think there is a time and place for that. There are certain situations in a game where you are going to need that. I think a drive starting at the 18 is better than the 25 for our defense. We have not done that like we should this year. We have had some opportunities, and we have lost leverage or missed a tackle and not done our job. When it is time and the time and place is necessary, we will kick touchbacks. If not, we are going to challenge people.”

On how the Browns can help spring WR Donovan Peoples-Jones for a big return: 

“Last week, Pittsburgh did exactly what we thought they were going to do in coverage, and we had a bounce left and all he had to do was beat the safety. If he beats that kid, then we have a big play, and the guy made a nice tackle. I think we are doing some things with our scheme to try to get him loose. We always do that. That is kind of what we do on kickoff return. We need to block better. We need to finish blocks better. We missed a couple blocks towards. The last return was a left return, and we missed a block at the point of attack. When you do that, you are not going to spring a guy. I do not care how good a returner he is. We have to be more consistent in finishing our blocks and do a better job.”

On Gillan’s personality: 

“He has a great personality I think that is part of his deal. When he is bubbly, having fun and feeling good about himself, he is a really good performer. When he is thinking too much and he is worried about certain things, he is not quite as consistent. It is my job to actually keep him loose, believe it or not. He is kind of a loosey-goosey guy anyway. Some specialists are like that, and they perform better that way. Others are more locked in. (K) Cody (Parkey) is not like that. Cody is a more locked in and serious guy, and that is what works for him. (LS) Charley (Hughlett) is kind of a combination the two and helps keep them in line. I love Jamie’s personality. I think it adheres to him being a successful specialist in this league. Like I said, the more experience he gets, the more confidence he gets and the better he is going to be.”

On if not being able to socialize and be in the community as much as usual due to COVID-19 restrictions is impacting Gillan: 

“If it bothers him, it bothers all of us. I think we are all. It bothers all you guys. We are all restricted with this, and our personalities can’t open up as much as we would like to because we can’t be as social as we would like to be. We all are. We went to Pittsburgh and my son is a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, and he is 10 minutes away from the hotel and I can’t see him. That affected me. My son that is at the Naval Academy and we go play Baltimore a few weeks ago, and I can’t go see him and he is half hour away. It is hard. It affects everybody in different ways. I do not think that is an excuse at all.”

On if he is disappointed in how the Browns special teams have performed so far this season and if he feels there is still a lot to fix: 

“I do not know if ‘fix’ is the right word. We need to be more consistent. I am proud of the way we have handled end of game situations or even the end of half situation. Last week we punted the ball, it was 31 yards and we punted the ball out of bounds with nine seconds left. We are not going to give that kid an opportunity to beat us. The end game and or end of half type situations – the hands team, big field goal against Indy a couple weeks ago – I am really proud of the way our guys reacted there, but it is the consistency and the things obviously like you said we need to fix and we need to be more consistent and get better at it.

“I am going to mention my two daughters, too, because they are going to see this. If I do not mention my daughter at Tennessee or my daughter in Denver, I am going to get yelled at so I want to mention them, as well.”

On having both Peoples-Jones and RB Dontrell Hilliard on kickoff return last week and if that is something the Steelers made the Browns switch: 

“They did not make us do it. We did it because (Steelers K) Chris Boswell is an outstanding kickoff man, especially at Pittsburgh. He is like when (former Browns and NFL kicker) Phil (Dawson) used to be here with the Browns. When you played Phil here in Cleveland, he did such a tremendous job of moving the ball because he understood the winds inside and out, like we have talked about before. I have talked to Phil about that before about our stadium. When you go play Pittsburgh, Chris does such a phenomenal job of kicking off in that stadium. He knows the winds, even though it was not that windy, but he knows exactly where to place the ball. Instead of having one guy in the middle running all over the place to try to get the ball, we put two guys deep.”

On if Peoples-Jones will remain the No. 1 returner: 

“More than likely.”

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Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt:

On WR Jarvis Landry playing more than 100 consecutive games and currently playing with a broken rib:

“Really, there is no one tougher on the team. You think about the things that he does, the injury he had and the way he still plays after the injury, hats off to him. He is made out of burlap and he is tough as nails. Definitely fortunate to have him on the team and appreciate that toughness he brings to the whole team.”

On the trickle-down effect on the team when someone like Landry plays through an injury:

“It is a big trickle down. Everybody in the locker room understands that. It is Week 7 in the NFL. There are not a lot of guys that feel great, but to have an injury like that and to play through it, it sets a fire under everybody else’s butt in that locker room. If Juice is out there giving his best with an injured rib, then why are we not doing the same? It really does light a fire into the guys in the locker room.”

On how getting down early in a game limits an offense and the gameplan:

“It definitely does when you get down a few scores in the game. The defense changes a little bit and they pin our eyes back to rush the passer. The thought of bringing the safety down in the box and giving you on one-on-one matchup kind of goes away so it changes your gameplan a little bit. We definitely have to do a better job of starting fast and not digging those holes for us early in the game.”

On main lessons for QB Baker Mayfield from the two interceptions:

“You have to keep getting better each week. It is always about the ball first and protecting the football, whether you are a ball carrier or a passer. Making great decisions is a big part of it. He got a little fooled on the coverage there on the first pick, and the second one was just a poor decision of trying to do too much. It is fundamental. It is that happy medium of knowing when the play is over and ultimately knowing that turnovers cost us. We can’t turn the ball over at that position or any position on the offense.”

On the Browns OL’s performance against the Steelers:

“Obviously, that is an extremely good front. They are a talented group. We did not play our best football. I think as you look at a team like that, that is a really good defense. You have to play one of your best games offensively across the board to be in the game with them, and we definitely did not do that. I have a lot of confidence in the guys up front. There is no question those guys are going to play at a high level for a long time this year. That was definitely not our best outing as a group, and we are looking forward to rebounding. That is the beautiful thing about this league. It is 16 sprints really, kind of the Tour De France. We did not win this leg of the race, but we have the next one coming Sunday and that is the one we are worried about right now.”

On if he has seen a renewed focused from the Browns OL this week after a tough game last week:

“Yeah, I think so. Sometimes when you get kicked in the butt, it kind of brings some awareness back to you, a little self-awareness of where we are at and refocuses everybody, ties them all down and locks them all in. It is the NFL so you can go out there any week and go against any team, and if you are not playing at a high level or at your best level, there is a chance that you are not going to win that game. It reiterates to us the focus and the narrowing of the focus this week to get ready to play in Cincinnati.”

On Landry and WR Odell Beckham Jr. having surgeries this past offseason, playing through injuries this season and the importance of getting the Browns pass game going: 

“I think we will improve there as the season goes along. Our mentality here is the sky is not falling. It was one football game. We did not play well across the board. We have played some really good football and done some good things in the pass game and in the run game up to this point. Those guys give everything they have. I do not think there is anybody on the team that really does not. Obviously, Odell and Jarvis coming back from the injuries and battling through injuries and playing through injuries. (QB) Baker (Mayfield) played through an injury last week. Guys want to be out there. They want to be out there for their teammates and win. We will be just fine. We feel good that the sun came up after the game so that is all positive. We are looking forward to getting down to Cincinnati.”

On Beckham saying he never wants to come out of a game and if that will change how the team makes decisions moving forward: 

“I would definitely want those type of players on our team as opposed to the guys that would be happy to be pulled out of a game in kind of a game that got away from us. Baker was not real happy. He did not talk to me for a little while after the game either. He wanted to stay in, as well. Those are the guys you want on your team – the fighters, the guys that want to finish the race. Like I did say, this is a 16-game one-at-a-time sprint, and it is a little bit of a marathon in that regard. We had some guys that were injured that needed to get out of that game and get healthy for the long run. I do appreciate the fact that they want to play, and I love that about those guys.”

On Head Coach Kevin Stefanski’s approach after last week’s loss: 

“Very impressive. Coach is very consistent. He has a very solid message of what we need to get done. He was very clear about what we needed to accomplish on that Monday after the game, and part of that was flushing it once we were done evaluating and learning from it. Even talking about it this long is giving me the willies. Like I said, it is over, it is behind us, we have learned from it and now it is onto the next one.”

On Mayfield not wanting to talk to him after being pulled early from the game: 

“It is just a part of the deal. It is a long season. That was a game we were not going to come back from there at the end. Guys were banged up so give them a little bit extra time off to heal up. He had taken some big hits in the game after already coming in with a little bit of dinged up rib. Just to be able to protect these guys from themselves. I am sure they would all like to play to the end, but sometimes you have to be smart and think about the future, as well.”

On evaluating Mayfield now and his potential, particularly given external criticism this past week: 

“I think the arrow is up for sure. He is going to continue to get better. We are still very new in this system of what we are getting done. As far as the outside criticism, I hope he does not listen to that. I am sure there is a lot of pressure. One thing that I have told him, one of the biggest steps I made as a coach was not listening to anything and just trusting the internal criticism that you get from your coaches. Those are the ones that matter. Everybody from the outside really does not have a great idea of what is going on inside. Be tough on yourself, but turn off that outside noise.”

On if it is hard to ask Mayfield to ignore the outside criticism, given Mayfield has said he has used that as fuel in the past: 

“That is a tough one. I would hope that would not be what drives him. I think just playing good for your teammates and playing better for your teammates would be what would drive a guy, and I am sure he falls into that category.”

On how eager RB Kareem Hunt is to have a breakout game: 

“Oh yeah, I am definitely excited for that to happen for Kareem. He is a guy that works his butt off. Also, playing a little nicked up right now. Like you said, nobody is really feeling great right now, but fighting through. Hopefully, he can have the success he wants and deserves.”

# # #

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods:

On if not creating any takeaways against the Steelers reinforces the importance of the team creating turnovers:

“Yes. I just talked to the defense about that this morning and showed them a little cut-up tape. Getting turnovers for us defensively, it changes the game because we either want to score with it, which we have, or we want to get it back for our offense and set them up. Not getting turnovers against Pittsburgh was huge.”

On if the Browns defense had opportunities to create takeaways against the Steelers:

“Oh yeah., there were balls tipped. It just felt like the football gods were not with us. The RPO, we squeezed twice, the ball is in the air and we have three guys around it. The tip on the third one, barely missed it. There were some opportunities. We were just a step slow.”

On if opposing defenses will intentionally target WR Jarvis Landry’s ribs, given Landry is playing with a broken rib:

“No, we never think like that. To be honest with you, guys are playing injured and you rarely ever hear about it. Jarvis is fighting through it. I do not think guys will take shots on people like that to be honest with you.

“For me, I am not coaching that. I hope other people are not coaching that. Just try to play the game clean. That is probably something you have to ask the other team, not me.”

On what he and the Browns learned about Bengals QB Joe Burrow during the Week 2 matchup and how that will impact the team’s gameplan:

“We knew he was a good quarterback just based on the plays that we saw. Seeing it at field level, he does a nice job of going through his progressions. He is not a one-look quarterback. I think they catered some of their system to what he did at LSU. You could see that from what they were doing. Overall, as we continue to watch tape, he is really doing a nice job executing their offense. I tell you what, he can take a shot, too.”

On how the Browns gameplan will be impacted if Bengals RB Joe Mixon is unable to play on Sunday:

“We know he is a good back, but they are capable at the position. With (Bengals RB) Giovani (Bernard) there, he has been playing for a long time and he has been productive, as well. Next man up for them. We have to be ready regardless. They have sound schemes. They are doing a good job putting it together. We have to be ready to go regardless of who the back is.”

On S Ronnie Harrison Jr. and LB Mack Wilson getting closer to full speed and if they can provide significant upgrades to the defense when 100 percent:

“Like what we see from both of them. With Mack playing last year, we had a chance to really evaluate him. For us, Ronnie has been getting a little bit better every week, and in the Colts game, a big play running down the sideline. We definitely feel like they have a future and will be very good players for us defensively.”

On if the Bengals passing game has improved this season and how the Bengals WRs have developed since Week 2:

“They are being productive. (Bengals WR) Tee Higgins – he is No. 85 – he is a guy who has emerged, as well. They drafted him this past season. They have a full complement of receivers. That is why they probably threw it against us 61 times. They have good players out there. You can see them being productive in the passing game. They are probably getting more comfortable with the scheme. It will be another hard game for us where we are going to have to match up and win some outside.”

On if it is odd that Bengals WR A.J. Green may essentially be the team’s No. 3 WR option:

“He is still getting his touches when you look at the numbers. I know he is coming back off of an injury so who knows where he is. When he does get the ball, he looks like the same A.J. Green you have seen in the past. I just think they have some other guys around him they are trying to spread the ball to.”

On the significance of having a player like CB Kevin Johnson in the nickel, given the Bengals’ WRs and their tendency to run three WR sets, and how Johnson has played since returning from the lacerated liver:

“Kevin is playing well. I think the first game, he was working off the rust. He was probably a little nervous, as well. Since then, I think he has stepped up and has played extremely well for us and will continue to get better. In the NFL, it is critical that you have a third corner because you play more nickel defense. They are going to be 60-65 percent in nickel. He gives us the ability to match up and do some things. I am looking forward to watching him play, and hopefully, he plays well on Sunday.”

On his conversation with CB Denzel Ward following the Steelers’ TD on the out-and-up route:

“Anytime there is a big play, and that was a play that he got hit on in the game, the first thing that you look at is what did he do technically. There were some things that we thought he could do better at the top of the route in terms of his eye discipline. Sometimes you get anxious and you think, ‘Hey, here comes the big one.’ Sometimes when it looks too good and feels too good, there is a problem. That is what happened to him. He just had big eyes instead of keeping his eyes in the right place.”

On the challenge evaluating the Browns personnel and identity when having to rotate in several different defensive players due to injury:

“It is tough because there are certain things in our defense that we want to do, but right now, it is probably not the right thing to do. It is just getting more reps and figuring out what guys can do and how much you can throw on their plate. I think it is a problem that is going on throughout the NFL that everybody is dealing with, and we are in the same boat. We are not going to make excuses for it. We are just going to keep pushing forward and just try to keep adding things that we feel are going to help us play better defense.”

On how S Karl Joseph has looked after returning to practice from injury:

“He is coming back. He is going to be out there today. He will take some reps. We will see where he is today.”

On Joseph being someone who plays with a chip on his shoulder:

“I think he has always felt like he is – you hear him talking and all the guys talked at one point during the offseason – and I feel like he probably felt like he was overlooked out of high school and overlooked in college. I just think he has an internal chip where he wants to prove to everybody that he can play. Obviously, coming from Oakland and not getting another contract there, I just think that is something he always has in the back of his mind. My biggest thing is, ‘Hey, you are still in the NFL and you are playing. Just show up and play the best you can, but don’t try to play and make plays outside of what you are supposed to do.’ That has been my biggest coaching point to him.”

On DE Myles Garrett’s success this season and if that will lead to more double teams and chips and how the Browns will react to it, including moving Garrett to different spots on the defensive line:

“Part of it is moving him around. We are definitely aware of the looks where they are going to chip or slide the protection to him, but you have to have balance on your defense. If a team is going to slide the protection to him, we may blitz away and you have to make a choice. I think you have to put that on teams and then people are going to have to make a decision on how they are going to protect.”

On if the Steelers were successful in trying to minimize Garrett’s impact on the game:

“You have to give them credit. They played well. They made plays against us. (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) is a veteran quarterback in getting the ball out of his hands so there was some protection and he was getting the ball out of his hands quick. It was a combination of a few things. Overall, they did a good job.”

# # #

Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor conference call

On how Bengals QB Joe Burrow has grown since the Week 2 matchup:

“I think he just gets better with experience every week. He gets a chance to see different looks. He gets an opportunity to handle different game situations in the NFL. Just the chemistry with his teammates improves. He does a really good job handling his business and showing leadership, but it is just natural that you grow closer to teammates with every day that passes. I have been really impressed with him in that way.”

On how the Bengals WRs challenge opposing teams’ DBs:

“They are smart guys. They are big. Really, you look at the three starters and they are all big. They allow us to do a lot of different things. They can block in the run game so they allow us to do a lot of things that way. You have a trust factor with each one of them that in a 50-50 situation they are going to be the ones to make the play. We are happy with that group. We think we have a deep group on the active roster there that you would not hesitate playing any of them.”

On DE Myles Garrett and how much opponents have to gameplan to slow Garrett down, especially with the ability to make big plays:

“You do. He can change a game in a second. He did it against the [Washington Football Team]. The [Washington Football Team] trying to get back in it, and he had the sack-fumble. He has been doing it his entire career. He is a special player, and you need to make sure that he does not wreck the game. You have to be aware of him at all times.”

On the Browns defense and if the team looks different when it is able to create takeaways:

“That is the thing with them is when the game is starting to get close, they find a way to make that play to separate the game again in their favor in all of those wins that they have had. Really impressed with that group through just six weeks really in this scheme with these coaches. It seems like in some ways they are getting guys healthier and guys are coming back, and it looks like they have a lot of guys playing for them. It is a group that you can see is gaining confidence with each game. I know last week was a tough week for the team, but the defense played really well. They are getting better with each week, it appears.”

On challenges facing a team for the second time in a season:

“Whether you played them within the last four games or the last 10 games, you do not overthink it and you make it more about yourself. Obviously, that was their second game as a team, as a staff and players so they have had a chance to play a couple of more games since then. You just evaluate all of the tape, make the best decisions and try not to overcomplicate things and overthink when you are playing an opponent for the second time in five weeks.”

On if Bengals RB Joe Mixon will practice today:

“He won’t practice today.”

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