Browns transcripts -- Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020

Rob McBurnett

Director, Community & Corporate Communications

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

On if DE Myles Garrett will practice today: 

“He is not going to practice today. We are outside so just want to be cautious. He will get some work done inside.”

On if Garrett tweaked his ankle on Sunday: 

“Exactly, nothing more than that.”

On if he expects Garrett to practice tomorrow: 

“I do.”

On if any Browns players will return to practice today: 

“(C) JC (Tretter) will be out there. Not sure how much he will be doing.”

On G Wyatt Teller’s status for Sunday: 

“I would say it is doubtful.”

On if WR Jarvis Landry will put more pressure on himself with WR Odell Beckham Jr. out: 

“I do not think so. He is a veteran. He has been around this game for a while. He understands the work that he puts in to get ready for Sunday. He understands his role as a leader. I do not see any additional pressure, no.”

On if Beckham’s injury has had any lingering effects on Landry: 

“No. Obviously, I think he wants his friend and wants his teammate out there, but he understands what needs to be done.”

On Raiders QB Derek Carr’s low interception numbers this season: 

“He does push the ball down the field, but he is extremely accurate. When he is throwing it into windows, he can throw into tight windows with his accuracy. Ultimately, it is so much a product of decision making, and he is making very good decisions with the ball.”

On S Andrew Sendejo’s performance and if Sendejo is ‘getting more grief than he deserves’: 

“I can’t speak to the grief he is getting. We grade all of our players every week, and he is a player that has some good plays and has some bad plays, and you can really chalk that up to every single one of our players. He has done a nice job for us in the meeting rooms and on the practice field. He provides leadership. To say that any defensive back is not going to miss a play, I do not think is accurate.”

On Raiders TE Darren Waller: 

“I see a very rare combination of size and speed. He at time looks like a wide receiver, a very good one at that, and at time he looks like a tight end blocking people, and a good one at that. There is versatility there.”

On how Waller helps open up the Raiders’ outside receivers: 

“With anything, that goes together – the outside and the inside, whether you are talking about a slot receiver or a tight end. When you can be a threat on the inside it really takes the defense’s attention towards you. If that is the case, there is safety that is helping on the inside and he can’t help on the outside.”

On the significance of the ‘Stay in the Game’ t-shirt coaches and players are wearing today: 

“The message behind it is we want to make sure your kids are in school. There is a problem with absenteeism. We want to make sure that we are encouraging the kids and we are encouraging the schools to make sure that those kids are staying in school. We know how important that is for them to be in there day to day. There are just too many examples of when kids are not in school so we are really trying to encourage them to make sure that they are taking advantage of the education that is available to them.”

On how many of the Browns defense’s preseason objectives have been achieved thus far and if that has been complicated by injuries: 

“I would say we are in the first year of systems on both sides so I do not think either side of the ball, offense or defense, is where we ultimately want to be. Obviously, special teams plays a huge factor into this. (Special teams coordinator) Coach (Mike) Priefer still being here, that system was remaining the same. I think we are getting there. I do think we put such an emphasis on taking the ball away, and to be able to do it how we have this first seven games in, we have to make sure that we continue to do that because that is part of our DNA.”

On how giving WR Rashard Higgins a clean slate to start the season has helped Higgins and his first impressions of Higgins: 

“I gave everybody a clean slate. Since the moment he has been with us, whether on Zoom calls back in the spring or out here on the practice field when we finally got together at training camp, he does his job. It is somewhat as simple as that. He does his job, and he makes sure whatever the team needs, he is going to do”

On if Higgins goes above and beyond in practice: 

“He does do a nice job. We have the mile per hour numbers on all the guys and the yardage that they go based on GPS. He is one of those guys that can just run all day, and I do appreciate that about him.”

On how impressive DE Myles Garrett has been this month when named AFC Defensive Player of the Month and how Garrett has increased takeaway production year: 

“He has been a game-changer. He has changed the game many times this season. That is those sack fumbles – he has four – that is changing the game. It is changing the outcome of games. He knows that we are counting on, he is a great football player, and we are going to need him for the rest of this season to continue to apply pressure to the Q, get the ball out. He is the straw that stirs the drink there.”

On having another WR pass against the Bengals and if there is an element of fun to calling those types of plays: 

“Yeah, I think there is an element of fun there. I think it gets our players’ attention in practice, which is sometimes hard to do. When you install those plays early on a Wednesday morning, they kind of perk up and sit up in their chair. Not going to say we are doing it every game. Maybe we will. I think it just adds another element that the defense has to get ready for.”

On if Landry’s pitch to RB Kareem Hunt was a designed option play: 

“It was. You are going to call some of those and you are going to hope for a look, and sometimes you do not get exactly what you want. The outcome was we retained possession of the ball, which is important. We do not anticipate that every single time we do something outside the box that it is going to be a big hit. We are just going to keep testing the limits and thinking outside the box, and again, just try to make ourselves tough to defend.”

On his level of concern with the team’s points allowed: 

“We look at it every week. We pull this thing apart. We are almost eight games into this thing, and we will really do a deep dive when you get there eight games in. There are areas that we absolutely want to improve. Obviously, starting with scoring points and not allowing points, it makes sense to me to start there. I think we are going to really drill into what we can do better in a bunch of areas that contribute maybe to the points scored and points allowed.”

On how quickly the Browns need to pivot off the Raiders game to focus on the trade deadline: 

“I think that is why (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and his staff do a great job. They are not waiting until the deadline to think about this. They are constantly talking, and they have a plan. We will just make sure that we stay in communication. I know Andrew is going to do what is best for the team.”

On his Bengals postgame speech to the team when he said he would take care of the team during the bye week and if it is harder to take care of players on a bye week this year than in past years, given COVID-19 protocols will not permit them to go out of town: 

“That is unique. Guys are testing every day during the bye. There are rules based on what you can and can’t do during that week, which are the same for every team. I think more than anything, the guys understand that there is a very, very big challenge in front of us with the Las Vegas Raiders and that is first and foremost. They need to get our best shot. This is a good team coming in here so anything that happens after that, that will get our focus, but not before the Raiders get our focus.”

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RB Kareem Hunt:

On if opposing defenses have loaded up to stop the run in the past few weeks: 

“Most definitely. When teams play us, I know they make the emphasis on stopping the run. That is what they try to do.”

On how much tougher it makes his job when opponents put an emphasis on stopping the run: 

“It makes it tougher, but you just have to grind it out sometimes and do whatever to help the team have positive plays.”

On the Raiders defense: 

“I see guys who play hard and play fast. They have some guys who can make plays out there. We have to definitely come ready to play.”

On how happy he was to see WR Rashard Higgins have a big performance last week: 

“I am very happy for him because he works so hard and that is all he does. He is a great person and a great teammate. I love seeing good things happen to good people.”

On if Higgins is someone who puts in extra effort at practice every day: 

“I definitely believe so. It is paying off because he is doing a great job. It is not shocking to me. He has been making plays through camp and through the past years. He is a great football player.”

On Higgins’ high-point catch and if he has seen Higgins do that in practice: 

“He has great hands. I saw him make some great catches in practices like that. It is not shocking to me. I know he can make the plays.”

On the mood with the bye week approaching and if the focus is on what has to be done this week: 

“Definitely. We still have to take care of this next game. It is one game at a time, and then we will see where the bye week goes from there. Right now, our biggest focus is on this next game.”

On if he has talked to RB Nick Chubb recently: 

“Yeah, I talk to Nick every day. He is a good friend of mine. I always talk to him.”

On how the Browns WRs blocking contributes to the run game: 

“It helps a lot, seeing the receivers give second effort in making those blocks downfield. I definitely believe in our receivers as blockers. Those guys are tough guys. They like to get their hands dirty sometimes.”

On WR Jarvis Landry being dedicated to blocking in the run game: 

“Definitely. Jarvis, I will never complain about Jarvis’ effort. He always gives it his all.”

On how much pride he takes in being able to make an impact in the passing game, including in the red zone: 

“I pride myself on being a back who can do it all and who can be out there all downs. That is the biggest thing. I have been working on that my whole life so when I get the opportunities to make plays, I can make them.”

On if he feels he flies under defenses’ radars sometimes as a receiver: 

“Most definitely. I think sometimes they might forget about me, but I think a lot of defenses know I can catch the ball.”

On how important it is for him to finish plays inside the 5-yard line to score touchdowns, given he is tied for the league lead in TDs:

“That is my thing. I just like smelling the end zone. If I get an opportunity to make a play in the end zone or close to the end zone, I am definitely going to try to fight my way in there, make the nice catch or whatever it is to get in the end zone. That is just because of the team needs. I would rather have seven points than three any day of the week.”

On if he attributes some of the Browns running game’s lower rushing totals in the past few weeks to facing tough defenses:

“We have been playing some good defenses lately. They seem to know we want to run the ball and stuff like that. It is nothing different. I am not really worried about that. We are still winning games. I am going to take care of business.”

On WR Jarvis Landry and QB Baker Mayfield playing through rib injuries:

“Those guys are fighting through pain right now, and they are doing a great job of it, too. They are not letting the team down. They are still going out there and giving it their all. You probably would not even tell if Jarvis has a crack rib.”

On if the bye week is needed to help Browns players to heal, including Landry, Mayfield and himself:

“Yeah, most definitely.”

On DE Myles Garrett winning AFC Defensive Player of the Month and comments that Garrett appears to be on a mission this year:

“Most definitely. He has definitely been on a mission, and he has been nothing but great – a great teammate and a great player. Obviously, you turn on the film and you can see that.”

On how much kids look up to professional athletes and if it makes a difference, considering the three-team Cleveland alliance between the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians:

“They look up to professional athletes a lot because a lot of kids, young kids want to grow up to be a NBA basketball player or a NFL superstar. That is everybody’s dream at some point in their life, I would think, if the kid played sports. They definitely look up to us and wonder what it took to get there and stuff like that.”

On if he hopes to be highly active in Cleveland and helping underserved communities following the pandemic:

“Yes, most definitely. I have done it the past years and stuff like that, too, so most definitely.”

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WR Rashard Higgins:

On how he expects his role to expand this week: 

“I am still in the starting lineup as of now. I really do not expect anything to change. When the ball comes my way, just make the most of it. Still just doing what I do. Playing football at the end of the day.”

On the confidence boost last week’s game gives him: 

“To be honest, I get my confidence during practice. I try to go hard in practice. Therefore, when game time comes, it is just easy. I say my hardest thing is just picking up all the new plays and trying to learn all the positions just in case a guy goes down, just like what happened it the game. We were able to bounce around and just know every position. I would say that is my biggest challenge – just knowing what to do and being in the right spots all the time.”

On why QB Baker Mayfield does not feel pressure to throw the ball to any specific player: 

“I feel like that goes with the coaches surrounding Baker with ballplayers. Every receiver on the team is able to make the plays when it comes their way. I feel like we all run the routes just about the same. If not, some people just run them faster. (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) was a little faster. I am a little slower so Baker has to slow the ball down for me a little bit (laughter). I feel like Baker has playmakers all around so there is really not a huge difference.”

On why some statistical numbers may indicate Mayfield’s performance is better without Beckham on the field: 

“I have no idea.”

On if WR Jarvis Landry feels a need to take on a bigger role and if there will be more pressure on Landry with Beckham out: 

“I do not feel like Juice has a lot of pressure on him. I do not feel like any of us do. That was one main thing that coach told us is do not feel like there is a lot of pressure on you guys. We are going to continue to keep the offense the same, and whether the ball comes to you or not, it is up to you to make the plays. That is really the biggest difference for guys like DPJ (WR Donovan Peoples-Jones), him getting his first catch and him getting his feet wet. Now it is go time for him. There should be a lot of balls coming his way. (WR) KhaDarel Hodge just came back so we are expecting a lot out of him, as well, too. We have playmakers, but it is up to us.”

On his high-point catch at the end of the Bengals game: 

“When the play was called, I was like, ‘Baker just be ready for a back shoulder.’ I was expecting him to be on top. Baker said, ‘To hell with that. I am throwing the ball down the field, and you are going to get.’ Those were his exact words. Looking back at it, I just went up and tried to high point the ball and come down with it. Like I have been saying, whatever I can do to help the team, I am here for it.”

On if it was the best catch of his life in a game: 

“I had the same catch before in college.”

On if it was his best catch in the NFL: 

“Best in the NFL so far.”

On how different things feel in the locker room this year with the team’s successful start: 

“Big difference. Try not to get too high on ourselves because at the blink of an eye, everything can go south. It is up to us to be poised. We have the [Las Vegas] game coming up. It is a big game. We have to come out to play because those guys are some ballers. Can’t wait till Sunday.”

On his reaction to seeing the photo of his spectacular high-point catch against the Bengals: 

“Like I have been saying, I try to practice so hard. I know you all have not been able to watch practices and stuff, but I practice hard. When times like that come, it is just like, ‘You know what? That is like a routine catch.’ It was nothing spectacular for me. I just went up and high pointed the ball and came down with it.”

On facing adversity during his career and producing with opportunities in recent weeks: 

“At the end of the day, I had to work for everything I ever got. If I had to work to get in this position, I am going to do it. Here I am. To God give the glory. I can’t be thankful for enough. I am going to keep working, keep putting my head down, not get too big headed on myself and just keep working. The sky is the limit.”  

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G Joel Bitonio:

On being named an NFLPA player representative: 

“Yeah, I am not our main player rep. I am an alternate. It is something you get older on the team, and you just want to make sure decisions are being made that affect all players and people have that information. I just wanted to help out. It was partially (C) JC (Tretter) is involved in the NFLPA and I was kind of part of that this offseason seeing what he does. Just want to be a part of it and try and help them help the players out when you have a chance.”

On if he sees himself having a political future: 

“No, I do not think so. I will leave that to the politicians.”

On the Raiders DL: 

“They are actually really active. They play hard. I know (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan has a lot of experience with their defensive line coach (Rod Marinelli). They run a lot of games. They play hard. They really missed quite a few sacks. They have been close on quite a few, and they have missed some. They run a lot of games. They have different fronts. We are going to see some three-down stuff with spinners. We are going to see some four-down. They have all types of blitz looks. They have a big array of things, and I think they are still learning the system of who rushes where and their rush length stuff, but you can tell they are getting close. The game last week was a close game. They got kind of blown out late in the game, but they are a good team and their front actually has some players that can move around and find ways to get open for them.”

On if opposing defenses have put more players in the box to try and stop the Browns running game: 

“I think it has been pretty similar. Maybe one or two on a play here or a play there when they see a certain formation, but I have not seen anything too over exaggerated by defensive fronts. I think early in the year, we have kind of had some seven, eight-man boxes anyway, and they have kind of kept that as we have gone. Pittsburgh always has a heavy box, and that is kind of how they play and they use their guys up front. I think it is been pretty balanced throughout the whole year.”

On if he could see defenses adding more players into the box now with WR Odell Beckham Jr out.: 

“Odell is a guy that takes the top off defenses. I think teams are a little bit more nervous of him going over the top and stuff of that nature. They might run different coverages now. You never know what they are what they are thinking when you do not have a No. 1 receiver on your team. He is out for now, but I know we have guys that are going to step in and try and fill that void, which is definitely tough void. They could have another guy in the box, but I think we have the guys in the passing game to get open and to make those plays for us.”

On the significance of the ‘Stay in the Game’ t-shirts players and coaches are wearing today: 

“It is something the Browns Foundation has been doing for quite a few years now, at least the last few years since I have been here. We are just trying to get the community… We know there is a digital divide, and that is something that our social justice team has been working on. We are trying to close that digital divide for some of the lower income areas. We are also making a statement that we want kids to stay in school. If you miss school and if you miss classes, that is the easiest way to drop out and not get there. If you have over 10 misses in a year, it is one of those things that there is a significant chance you are not going to graduate or not move on to the next grade. It is all things that the Browns have been doing. We are trying to communicate with the kids and get out there – and right now it is hard – but get out there and stay in school and ‘Stay in the Game’ – that is one of the Browns Foundation’s mottos.”

On if he noticed a difference in how locked in QB Baker Mayfield was on Sunday: 

“As we were playing, I felt really comfortable. I felt like our offense was moving the ball well and we had a chance to score pretty much every time we touched the ball. The Bengals did a good job of holding onto the ball, though. I think we only got four chances in the second half to score, and we scored on all of them. I did not know he was so locked in where we had no incompletions. I was just playing the game. It was impressive. I would not say there was any difference. I think he was just playing, and we had a confidence in the offense so that, ‘Hey, we are going to go down there and we have a chance to score every time we touch the ball.’”

On if he has seen any changes in Mayfield’s personality or confidence this year: 

“No, he is the same guy. He shows up to work and he has a good attitude about it. Obviously, he is not happy go lucky all the time if we are not playing well, but I think his confidence to go out there and do it each and every week has been impressive. It is NFL. You are going to have ups and you are going to have downs. How do you move on? How do you improve from that? He has always had the right mindset. I am not in the quarterback room all the time and things of that nature, but once we get on the practice field and on the game field, he has that mindset of ‘Hey, it is time. We are going to have a good game this week.’”

On what T Chris Hubbard is bringing to the OL, including as the starting RG in recent weeks: 

“His experience. He has been in the league going on eight years now. He has never played guard before in a game so he has had that experience a little over two and a half games now. He is just a steady veteran. He stepped in. Coach talks about all the time of being ready when your number is called because there are injuries in this game. He has come in and done a good job. As a group, we did have a great game against the Pittsburgh D line, but we came back against Cincinnati and we protected well. Our goal this week is to do the same and hopefully get the run game going so we can take our shots and do things like that. He has done a good job. He knows offense. Him and (T) Jack (Conklin) have a good rapport. They were working together at tackle before he moved to guard so they have that rapport with each other, and it has been impressive. That is the thing, what teams can come in and replace guys when they are banged up and injured and try not to lose a beat.”

On the nature of political discussions in the locker room with the election next week: 

“It has been good. We do not hear that much about it. I do not think guys are like discussing it in between meetings necessarily, but I think when there have been talks, it has been pretty cordial. People just want information, and we did that with the social justice group. I am pretty sure the whole team is registered to vote, and I know a lot of guys have already mailed in their ballots or done early voting. Tuesday of next week, everybody having off – we have tests – everybody is going to have their chance to go out there and vote and hear their voice. That was one of the things we wanted to discuss is voting is the key to change, and we have to get out there and be part of that if we want to talk about change and we want to talk about fixing things in our communities. Tuesday is going to be a good day to show that these guys are out there, we are voting and we are part of this community. I would not say there have been political discussions all the time, but if someone has one, I think people are just open and want to learn what is this, what is that, how are we going about certain things and what are people’s opinions. It is nice because you have so many different backgrounds in a football locker room that you actually have a national kind of audience when you talk about those things.”

On if the Browns have adjusted their COVID-19 protocols after what occurred with the Raiders OL last week: 

“From the start, we have been trying to social distance. The O line meets in the team room so it is a huge room. Now, we have made sure of it. We make sure we are four or five seats away from each other and a couple rows away. When we get on the field, it is hard because you want to talk about the plays. You get off to the sideline, and you are like, ‘Hey, what did you do on this one or what happened on that one?’ When we are at practice, we try and say the six feet apart. It is a huge thing. If you test positive on a Thursday or Friday and you have to sit out for five days because you are close contact, you are not going to have a starting O line at least out there, if you have any close contacts. It is one of the things we are trying to stress. Obviously, the main goal is to not get COVID, but some of that is out of our control. Now, we are just trying to be as careful as possible with the close contacts and trying to stay as far apart as we can while still being able to accomplish our goals at practice.”

On if not being able to spend as much time with the OL this season due to the COVID-19 protocols: 

“The toughest part is it does not feel like a real NFL season in the sense where we can go out to eat with each other and we can meet each other’s wives, girlfriends and families. For the rookies, it is little bit different. They are just here and they did all these Zoom meetings in the offseason. Usually, you have an O line dinner pretty much once a week at someone’s house, at a restaurant or something. You get to just learn what these people do off the field, and it is a little bit harder. Technology has helped that, but it is one of those things that you miss. We are trying to keep people safe and we are trying to get a season in, and that is the most important thing right now. Hopefully, years down the road we will be able to make up for that.”

On Raiders T Trent Brown:

“I have seen him in the past. I know he has been on a couple of teams now, but he signed a big deal with the Raiders. The thing that stands out is how big he is. He in a monstrous guy, and he actually has pretty athletic feet for a guy that big. Usually if you are that big, it is tough to get into position. When he gets in the pass pro, he gets his few kicks in and he is a wall now. It is hard for guys to bulrush him. It is hard for guys to get around him because he is so big and can move athletically. In the run game, when he gets his hands on guys, he moves his feet well. They have a big O line, I know that group is a bunch of big guys, and they like to run block and they like to get physical, but he is the biggest of the group. It is just cool to see a guy that big that can move that well, and he is a good player.”

On if there is anything different about DE Myles Garrett this year:

“I think he is on a mission, mentally. Physically, he has always been a freak, and the way he can bend and move is just impressive, his first step and his power. I think mentally he is on a mission. He has always been there, but I think with missing some games last year and being injured a couple of times, I think he wants to be on a mission to prove that he is the best pass rusher in the NFL.”

On the mindset with the possibility of heading into the bye 6-2 and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski’s message of taking care of the players after the bye once the team is done being fully focused on this week’s game:

“His whole motto all year has been one week at a time. That has kind of been his motto. He understands what is ahead, as well. He looks at the big picture while still taking it one week at a time. As a group of guys, we understand we are going to have some days off and we are going to have a week off where we are not going to have to play a game. You try and put it out there as best you can every week, but this week, there is some stuff on the backend. If we can get the win this week, I think it is big for our momentum and big for us going into the week and the halfway point of the season. It is a natural break in the schedule. It is big for us. No one is really looking ahead to that. We can’t travel anywhere. We are going to be in Ohio. We are going to be in Cleveland and Berea during that time anyways. We are really trying to focus on the Raiders. We know they are trying to get a win, too. They are at .500 right now, and it is a big game. That is kind of where our mindset it. After the game, it will be a relief once we get a few days off. Right now, we are real focused on the Raiders.”

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Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt:

On WR Rashard Higgins’ big catches against the Bengals: 

“He made every play that came his way. That was really impressive and good for him. It is kind of the theme of our season as a team right now, the next guy up. He came in and did not flinch at all. I know Baker has confidence in all of our receivers. He showed up huge. That catch was one of the biggest ones in the game. Really proud of him because he puts in the work off the field and on the practice field. To have that opportunity and step up and make one of the biggest plays in the game, that is what it is all about. Really proud of him.”

On Higgins facing adversity in his career and producing with opportunities: 

“That is resiliency. That is that is what it is all about. In this league, it never is easy. It is very rarely easy. You have to keep fighting and continue to work and then wait for your opportunity. That is what he has done. He made most of that opportunity.”

On if the Browns offense will lean more on WR Jarvis Landry without WR Odell Beckham Jr.: 

“Yeah, I think so. He is a leader of the offense. He really got us going in that game. He completed the little keeper to him in the flat. He broke tackles and had an explosive gain that really got us started offensively. Moving forward, obviously he is a big part of the offense. Without pressing, we are going to have to find ways that he can help us.”

On if Landry likes taking on the extra workload: 

“Absolutely. All of those guys like that, the dominant alpha guys like he is, they love having that that put onto their shoulders. We will be smart with what we do and how much we asked Juice to do, but he can really get us going, and he did in that game on Sunday.”

On how he expects opposing defenses to gameplan differently without Beckham: 

“Often times, you will see when you have an elite receiver like Odell that teams will try to double him in some form or fashion, whether it be man or zone coverage with the safety over the top. Maybe not quite as many as those coverages. We are going to have to find ways to distribute the ball and fill that void because that is a big void Odell not being here is going to leave us so we have to fill it from multiple places.”

On RB Kareem Hunt’s value in the pass game: 

“It is a huge part of his game and his skillset. He is a really good receiver out of the backfield. Finding ways to get him as many touches as possible, whether it is handing it to him or throwing it to him. He is very valuable as a receiver, as well a runner.”

On if Hunt could see more opportunities in the passing game with Beckham out: 

“He already has a big role right now, and part of that is coming out of the backfield as a receiver. Like I said, it is going to take all of us to fill that void. We have to run better, we have to protect better, we have to get open we have to use multiple receivers and highlight what the guys do well. We will do that moving forward.”

On the Raiders defense: 

“They are a big group of guys up front. Their end are long, tall guys, they are big. The thing that stands out is they all play with a motor and that they are finishing to the football on every snap. You can tell that as you watch the tape. We have to do a great job of finishing our blocks and being great with our ball security because they chase to the football. In the back end, they are a talented group back there, as well. They have been in that scheme now for a few years. They have a good understanding of who they are and what they do, and it shows on defense. It is going to be a big challenge for us, no question.”

On if Mayfield can use his finish against the Bengals as a jumping off point for the rest of the season:

“I hope so. I loved the way he played. He was locked in through the course of the game. His week of preparation was one of the best up to that point. That is really the blueprint. That is what we expect each week. Hopefully now, he is after the Steelers game and has a little confidence and a little swagger back in his game. You can see that in practice. Moving forward, you just have to keep that same consistency, protect the football first and foremost and then you give your guys chances to make plays, which he did.”

On conversations with Mayfield after starting the Bengals game with five incompletions, including an interception:

“Really did not talk much with him. Spoke a little with (Head) Coach (Kevin Stefanski) on how we can maybe get him something easy to get going. Things like that. It is gameday, and that stuff is going to happen. You are going to go through streaks. At the end of the game, I had no idea that he had gone on the hot streak that he had. Just operating one series at a time, talking through the series on the sideline. I did not even know that he had five touchdowns until after that game. That is how focused we were, one series at a time going back and seeing how they played us in each series and getting calls ready for the next series. That is the focus that we all need to have. He was extremely locked in. At the end of the day, you look up and complete the balls as many time as he did in a row and have the touchdown production, you are like, ‘Oh, wow. OK. I did not realize that.’ Like you said, it is a good starting point and launch point for what we are expecting from him.”

On if it was pretty remarkable that Mayfield finished the game the way he did to help the team win after watching it on film:

“Definitely is. I actually looked back on it, and it definitely is. Guys obviously made huge plays and huge catches, but Baker gave those guys the opportunity to do that. Some of those balls may have been incomplete, but our guys went up and they made the plays. As far as quarterback play goes, it was definitely one of those days that you look back and say, ‘Wow, that was pretty good ball play by the QB.’”

On if he thinks there is something more to the connection between Mayfield and WR Rashard Higgins:

“I do. I see a good relationship there. They have fun with each other. They enjoy being around each other. Kind of busting each other’s chops a little bit so that is fun to see. I think the reps is where it comes, the repetition of practice. Like you said, he has thrown a lot of balls to him in a lot of different situations. The more you have those opportunities, the more comfortable you are with the guy.”

On if Hunt is getting healthier:

“I hope so, I do. I was really impressed with his ability to break tackles. He ran hard in that game and got us a lot of hard, extra dirty yards. Hopefully, he is feeling better each week moving forward.”

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Defensive coordinator Joe Woods:

On Raiders QB Derek Carr’s performance and low interception numbers this season: 

“I think first and foremost, their run game. They have some good players in all positions. Their offensive line is big. I think just the threat of their running game, people get in eight-man fronts and doing different things to stop the run is putting them in good positions when they are throwing the ball deep. They have it packaged very well, and they are doing a nice job with it.”

On what Carr is doing well this year: 

“I think he is more comfortable in the offense. He has been with (Raiders Head) Coach (Jon) Gruden for a while. I think they have kind of found out what they really want to do with the system. There are a lot of different things they do from play action to drop-back pass to RPOs. It is very versatile in terms of what they are able to do with their whole offensive scheme. I think he is just comfortable with it now.”

On if he expects DE Myles Garrett to play on Sunday: 

“I am waiting to find out. That is what I am hoping for, and I will find out a little bit later on what is going on.”

On how much help Garrett needs in generating more of a pass rush and if he would like other players to step up more: 

“We would like to. It is not always the sacks to be honest with you. It is really pressuring the quarterback, moving him off the spot and getting him to throw the ball a little bit quicker, and I feel like we have done that. I think the guys will eventually get him. Right now, I think Myles is playing really well, and we need him to continue to do that.”

On if DE Olivier Vernon and other Browns players could benefit if Garrett played at RE more: 

“We have done that. (Defensive line) Coach (Chris) Kiffin does a nice job with the defensive line in terms of coming up with different games that are running and different alignments to try to create matchups for us. We move Myles around, but we move other guys around too, whether it is right side or inside. We are going to continue to do that, and then hopefully, we get some more sacks.”

On Garrett’s production in October as Garrett was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month: 

“He is playing really well. I think he is comfortable with what we are doing. We had several games where we are running similar things. The pieces may be different and the call may be a little bit different, but I feel like he is getting more comfortable. We are getting some of the matchups we want and some of the protections we want. Hopefully, he continues on that track. It is good for everybody and the whole team.”

On how much attention the Browns defense has to pay to Raiders TE Darren Waller and what Waller does to open up the rest of the Raiders passing attack: 

“We have to pay a lot of attention to him. Anytime we have a dynamic tight end, it is always who is going to match up against him. You have to have awareness. You really have to put together your defensive schemes to account for him. He creates a problem for every team they play against. I feel like we have a nice plan and we have different ways to try to cover him.”

On if there is a common problem with the Browns defense giving up 30 points in five games: 

“It definitely is a problem, and it is something we are trying to address every week. For me, first and foremost, I want to make sure I put them in the best calls I can give them an opportunity to make plays. From there, it comes down to situational football, getting off the field on third down and playing better in the red zone. There are a lot of factors going into it. It is something we are working on. It just has to show up on Sunday.”

On how the Browns LBs are developing this season: 

“I feel at times at each position they are all doing good things, whether it is the D line, linebacker or in the back end. We just have not been able to consistently put together a solid game for four quarters, whether we start off with the interception or give up a few plays in the second quarter or fourth quarter. I just think at each position, we are looking for consistency. We are looking for guys just to execute their technique and play with maximum effort. We have not been able to do it for 60 minutes. Hopefully, this week, we get closer to doing that.”

On if LB Mack Wilson is fully back from his injury: 

“He is out there. Is he 100 percent? Not right now, but he is progressing that way. He is feeling more comfortable each and every week. We just keep pressing him and just tell him to go out there and try not to do too much. We are trying to limit his reps somewhat and give him a little bit more each week. I think he is getting better each game.”

On if Vernon is still fighting through injuries from earlier in the season: 

“No, I do not feel that. I know for a while he was struggling physically just coming back initially from the injury. Right now, I feel like he is definitely healthy. I think he is just trying to find his niche and just get comfortable with some of the things we are doing with the defensive line. He is very close. He has had a couple plays where he has hit the quarterback right as he is throwing the ball. I think it is just a matter of time you will start to see the production from him.”

On if moving Vernon to different positions on the DL has affected his play: 

“I do not think so. I think his natural position is on the right side, and I think last week he took 50 reps there. We will do things again to create advantages for us and do things to attack protections. Part of that is going to be in moving around, whether he is inside or whether he is dropping. I just think that makes us overall better defensively when we can do those things.”

On how much CB Denzel Ward has meant to the secondary, including his instincts and athleticism: 

“It is just what you said, all those things. When you have a corner that can run, is smart, instinctive, you can put them out there and match him up one on one with anybody. That really makes you feel comfortable as a play caller just in terms of opening up your whole menu. Each and every game, you just see him make multiple plays on the ball. Last week, he had a couple of nice plays in the run game. It reminded me of (former NFL CB) Antoine Winfield (Sr.) when he came up on the TFL. He is playing really well for us right now.”

On Ward sliding under the block to get a tackle for loss on a screen play: 

“Yeah, that is what I was saying with Antoine Winfield on that play. He played at Ohio State, too. That was nice. He understands the types of blocks coming his way. He understands his tackling opportunities. He is getting better at that every week.”

On how he handled the shootout between Bengals QB Joe Burrow and QB Baker Mayfield and what he expects to see from Burrow and the Browns in the years ahead: 

“I am kind of right now living in the now. Unfortunately, I am getting used to these shootouts. We need it the other way where we play a little bit better and keep the points low. Obviously, Joe Burrow is a good quarterback just based on the two games that we played against them. He is going to be around for a long time in this division so something you are going to have to deal with at least two times a year. Again, hopefully, it is more about the whole defense, not just the DBs or the D line. When we play guys like that, we have to play well at all levels to have success.”

On if the shootout with the Bengals will serve the Browns defense well if it is another shootout this week: 

“We have already been in several so unfortunately, I am comfortable with it. I do not like it. You never know. [Las Vegas] is an explosive offense. They have very good players at all their skill positions. Their offensive line is big. They do a good job in the run game and the pass game. They are not turning the ball over. We are going to have our hands full. Hopefully, it is not a shootout and we come out of it playing well defensively.”

On what makes this Browns defense different with the ability to come up with takeaways and turn the game around, despite giving up significant points and yards: 

“I feel like it is a unit that is getting closer and coming together every week, just from the front end to the back end, the relationships and the trust that these guys have developed. It comes through going through those battles on gameday. Each week, guys just trust one another a little bit more and understand what they are going to do in certain situations. The thing that we have done best, which is one of the most important statistical categories in the NFL, is turnovers. We have to continue to do that. That has really been one of the main reasons we have been able to win some of these close games. As long as guys get aligned, they do their job and execute their techniques, there are going to be plays available to make, and we have made our fair share so far this year.”

On if DE Porter Gustin: 

“He is still part of the rotation. Sometimes based on what we are doing defensively, he may get more reps than other weeks. That is something we talk about at the beginning of the week. This is a good game for him so he will be more along his normal rep count. That is what we are anticipating. He does it the right way, he plays hard and we love him.”

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Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer:

On his confidence that WR Donovan Peoples-Jones will be able to handle a bigger role on offense and the role as a returner: 

“He is a smart young man. We have been talking about his intelligence from the get go, how he can learn all three positions on offense and how he understands and makes good decisions as a punt and kickoff returner. I do not see any problems with him handling an extra workload on offense and being the returner.”

On if he is excited for Peoples-Jones to get more opportunities: 

“I was excited when he made that play on Sunday, I will tell you that. That was a huge play for us, and that does not surprise me. I think (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski calls him ‘Mr. Reliable.’ I think that is what I heard he called him, and I think that is a great name for him. That is what he is. He is a guy that is going to be in the right spot at the right time, and he understands what to do and how to do it. It was obviously a big play for us last week.”

On what he was thinking when the game-winning TD pass to Peoples-Jones was in the air: 


On the Raiders’ fake punt last week: 

“They ran that same punt last year against Chicago. They ran kind of a misdirection punt-fake against Detroit last week. We are going to obviously be very well prepared for that. It would be based on the down a distance and the call that I throw in, and we have to be more conservative than usual because they are a fake team. They are aggressive with that so we will be ready.”

On CB Denzel Ward’s athleticism and if Ward’s skillset and plays ever surprise him: 

“He and (DE) Myles Garrett are two of the athletes on our team that – I do not say surprise me all the time, but it is amazing what they can do as athletes, how they can turn their body and how they have great explosiveness. It is amazing. We have a lot of great athletes on our football team, but those are the two of the guys that jump out to me constantly.”

On his evaluation of the last kickoff against the Bengals and the decision to not kick it out of the end zone: 

“It actually worked out almost perfectly. We did not want to kick a touchback, and certainly, we did not want to kick it out of bounds. We wanted them to use as much clock as they possibly could. In a perfect world, I probably would have liked that tackle on the other side of the 40, but it was at the 42. I think we covered it well, not great, but the ball was at the 42-yard line, and they had four seconds. They used seven seconds. To me, it worked out almost perfectly. It was a great kick. We knew No. 25 (Bengals HB Giovani Bernard) was going to be moving to the center of the field, thinking it was going to be a squib kick. He did a nice job of getting back to the ball. Our guys probably covered a little bit more tentative than I wanted them to, but we did a good job of getting them down. Like I said, we used seven seconds of the clock and there were four seconds left, and all they had left was the Hail Mary.”

On K Cody Parkey missing an extra point after a perfect start to the season:

“He made 30 kicks in a row for us, and hopefully, he can start a new streak this week. He has been outstanding for us. He, (LS) Charley (Hughlett) and (P) Jamie (Gillan) work extremely well together. He just missed it. I do not know if there is anything we needed to correct. It is not a big correction. It is probably a minor correction. He just has to go out and make those kicks, and he knows that.”

On if it is a good assessment that kickoff coverage was better against the Bengals Sunday compared to the Week 2 matchup:

“That was a great assessment. We shut down the No. 1 returner in the league, in my opinion. (Bengals S Brandon Wilson) is outstanding. We covered him three times, and three times we shut him down so I was real proud the way our guys covered. Cody kicked the ball well and guys were into it all week. In fact, we were back to where we were last year in terms of the attitude of they did not want us to kick a touchback. We had the wind behind our back and we were being more conservative in kicking out of the end zone and we will kick a touchback. They were actually made at me that we called those type of kicks because they wanted to cover every single one of them. Hopefully, we have our confidence back and our swagger back a little bit. We still have to pick and choose our spots to when we challenge teams. I like what I saw from our guys on Sunday.”

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