Browns transcripts -- Monday, Nov. 9, 2020

Rob McBurnett

Director, Community & Corporate Communications

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“Great to be back on the grass. Had the bye week there. Guys were able to go for the fresh. Spent a lot of time last week as a coaching staff pulling it apart, and I think really had a very productive week. This being a bonus day in our preparation for Houston, we were able to talk about our key learnings from the bye week, able to introduce the Texans and their scheme to the team and then get out in the field and work to stay sharp.

“It was good to see (RB) Nick Chubb back out there, (G) Wyatt Teller and obviously (TE) Austin Hooper, who was back last week, but good to see those guys out there – (LB) Jacob Phillips, as well.”

On how Chubb looked in practice today: 

“I was joking, he was fresh legs out there. He looked like Nick looks. He was ready to roll out there at practice. Obviously, he is chomping at the bit. He has done everything in this rehab that has been asked of him. As you can imagine, he has attacked it. We will see how the week unfolds here.”

On if there is an update on QB Baker Mayfield’s status and if there is optimism Mayfield will be able to return to practice on Wednesday: 

“No update. I can’t really get into it. We are just following all the protocols. In this day and age, all of our guys are doing their absolute best. Nothing is foolproof, but we will make sure that we just follow all of the rules.”

On not having Mayfield at practice today and how that impacts the team’s preparations for the Texans: 

“He was on our virtual calls this morning so he is very much involved in what we are doing from a meeting room spot. He will watch this tape. We will watch it with him. Anytime you are not out there, you wish you had all of your guys out there to get the reps – that is just natural – but we will make sure we bring him up to speed as soon as he is back in the building.”

On if there was anything else the team could have been done in terms of Mayfield’s status, given the team’s concerted efforts related to COVID-19 protocols and minimizing potential for close contacts: 

“Like you said, we try to be very careful and try to make sure at every moment we are reminding the guys. At some points, there are going to be some unfortunate moments, but I can promise you all of our guys are being diligent about this. No one, I can promise you, is flippant in any way about the rules, protocols, etc. All of us have to make sure that we stay on top of it.”

On how different today was as the team is in the NFL’s intensive protocols: 

“Not much different. We had been moving to so much virtual already. Maybe the main difference is guys are wearing the Oakley face shields – that is mandatory. All in all, it is pretty similar to what we have been doing. I told the guys this morning that we have been meeting virtually since April and we have been able to cover a lot of ground so we have to make sure that we continue to do that.”

On DE Myles Garrett practicing today and if Garrett is fully recovered from previous injuries: 

“He is in good shape. We will see how he responds to this and how he looks Wednesday, but he looked good to me out there today.”

On how Teller looked during today’s practice: 

“I think all of these guys as they come off of this, we are going to be smart, we are going to work them in and then really the big thing is see how they respond. Got him out there. It was great to see having those guys out there, Wyatt included. We have to see how he comes out of it right now. I am sure he is in there talking to trainers, then sleep on it for 24 hours and come back and see how he is feeling. We really have to let these days guide us.”

On the boost Chubb and Teller can give the Browns offense and running game, if both are available this week: 

“We will see how this unfolds this week, but you are talking about two good football players. If we are able to get them back, I think that will give a boost to our team.”

On what the Browns learned from self-scouting during the bye week and if that included eliminating some plays: 

“I can’t get into specifics, but I will tell you, we pull it all apart, and then what happens is you get all this information from the coaching staff and from everybody and you compile it, you talk through it, you pull it apart and then then you check the tape. For us, what we tried to do is on offense look at the run game, look at the pass game and look at us situationally and the same on defense, and maybe find some areas that we are good at and why are we good at them and then make sure we protect those type of things. Then things that we are just not so good at, if it is a play on offense for instance, like you mentioned, we can throw that play out if it is not working, and there are plenty of other plays. It is really just spending spent a lot of time on those eight games. I think that is the nice part of having a bye week right in the middle, where you get a nice eight game sample, and you can really make some determinations based on that sample.”

On if the Browns’ self-scouting resulted in any lineup changes: 

“We will see how that all shakes out over the next few days. Obviously, in terms of when you are pulling it apart, you are looking at scheme, but of course, you are looking at personnel just the same. We will make sure that we continue to have discussions with the coaches. As you know and as you have seen, we play a lot of people so we are going to be counting on a lot of guys. We are going to continue to rotate guys in there. As it relates to specific lineup changes, we will just see how that plays out.”

On if Hooper’s reception statistics are a reflection of the offensive scheme or if he is disappointed in Hooper’s production: 

“I am in no way disappointed with the impact that Austin has made. Missing these last two games – I have said this before – any success that we had on offense, No. 81 is heavily involved. We are really excited to have him back. He is a real threat in the pass game. He has been great in the run game. In no way am I disappointed.”

On if he feels fortunate that Mayfield is the only player who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, understanding the unprecedented situation 2020 presents: 

“Like you said, it is a different year. It is 2020 so you have to be prepared for anything and have to be ready to adjust. We knew at some point with everything that is going on in our country that there is a high likelihood of something like this happening, and we have to make sure that this does not become a habit, so to speak.”

On if he has more details to share on WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s surgery: 

“I do not. I know he has surgery planned, but I do not have any details, no.”

On the Browns seeming as healthy as they have been since the beginning of the season and the impact it could have for the second half of the season: 

“I think that the NFL season is a slog. Every game comes at you and every team deals with injuries. We are no different. To get this bye right in the middle and to be able to have guys that are coming back potentially off of this, I think, can be a big boost to our guys. Like we have mentioned before, nobody feels 100 percent. That is just how it goes. They are all battling through different things, but it is nice to have those guys back out there.”

On why T Jack Conklin was not at practice today: 

“He was excused. I expect him back on Wednesday.”

On G Joel Bitonio’s status, given Bitonio was on an exercise bike during the open period of practice and missed some of practice last week, and if Bitonio should be ready for Sunday’s game: 

“He should be, yes.”

On Bitonio’s injury: 

“Elbow. I think you guys know him, and he will be just fine.”

On if he will address the playoff picture with the team, given his continued focus on going 1-0 each week: 

“For us, we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we concern ourselves with anything other than the Houston Texans, who I think are a good football team. I do not think it helps us to set our gaze anywhere but where we are right now, and that is a big game this Sunday in our building versus, I think, a really good football team.”

On if WR Jarvis Landry and RB Kareem Hunt came out of the bye week in better shape health-wise: 

“Yeah, I think they are in better shape, but I would also go back to saying nobody is 100 percent.”

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TE Austin Hooper:

On his appendectomy:

“It just came out of nowhere, super random. Pretty much that. Out of my control. It just kind of happened. Before I knew it, I was out on an operating table. Pretty fast process.”

On how he is currently feeling: 

“I feel great. I feel great.”

On if he has any worries getting back on the field:

“No, ready to get rolling again.”

On if has talked to former teammate and Falcons C Alex Mack, who also had an appendectomy when playing for the Browns:

“Oh, yeah. Saw it happened, and he hit me up and was like, ‘Oh, that sucks. What is your timeline set?’ We are talking, and he is like, ‘I came back pretty quick, but I also do not get tackled in the internal organ area, either, so you might be out a little longer than I was.’ He said the same thing – just super random, was getting in and getting ready to go to work just like me and then you are headed to the ER for something completely out of your control. Definitely happy and grateful to be back here with my teammates on the field.”

On if it was nice to be able to talk with Mack who can relate to the situation:

“Yeah, it was good knowing a guy who has been through it. At the end of the day, it is not that big of a deal. A lot of people have to deal with it. Just unfortunate that it happened to me smack dab in the middle of the season. Definitely grateful to have him and just talk to him about the recovery process and things to do and things not to do. Definitely grateful to have a guy like him.”

On assessing his first six games of the season and the Browns halfway through the season:

“It is always a constant grind. Feel like I can always improve on some things. Like all players, definitely some plays I want to have back, but for the most part, I felt like I was doing my thing for the most part. There is always stuff to improve on and always another level where you can go into. That is my goal is to just try to be the best version of myself every time I go out there. I know what I need to work on, and I am ready to get rolling. I feel like that same sentiment resonates across the board with all the guys. Collectively as a unit, we have done some things but there are also plays we want back and we know that there is a different level we can all go to.”

On having multiple Browns offensive players return to practice following injuries:

“Getting your starters back on offense is always a good thing. Just having a guy like (G) Wyatt (Teller), a road raider up front… First of all, shout out to (T) Chris Hubbard and (T) Kendall Lamm. Being able to fill in and not just fill in but ball at the level that they did, they deserve a ton of credit. Yes, it is awesome having Wyatt Teller back and just the juice he brings and the physicality and the nastiness. Definitely a guy that is a lot of fun to play with on gameday when he is burying people. (RB) Nick (Chubb) obviously is one of the premier backs in this league so it is definitely awesome having those guys back.”

On if he is eager to see the one-two punch with Chubb and RB Kareem Hunt back on the field together: 

“It is always great when you have both of your top two running backs back. Just having that one-two punch back and just allowing Kareem not to have to carry the load, so to speak. Having Nick back in there is going to be awesome, along with (RB) D’Ernest (Johnson). Those guys are doing an awesome job. You also have (RB) Dontrell (Hilliard) who can come in and do his thing, as well. We have a very deep and versatile running back room, but having Nick Chubb back is huge.”

On Teller bringing a bit of ‘nastiness’ to the Browns offense and if that type of attitude is contagious: 

“It is definitely fun when you have a guy like that on the field just burying people and having fun with it, laughing and joking around. He definitely has that infectious personality that I think resonates with not just the offensive side of the ball but the entire team. Definitely good to have a guy like that back.”

On his reaction when learning QB Baker Mayfield was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list: 

“This is the new normal, right? It kind of is what it is, unfortunately. Definitely sucks. Baker is not just my teammate but one of my friends, as well, and my neighbor. When you see that happen, you definitely feel for him and his wife. I am an optimistic person, and I think they are going to be alright. Time will tell, right? This is the new normal.”

On if it can be hard for everyone to keep their guard up related to COVID-19 and health and safety protocols for a full 17-week season: 

“For sure, you could be doing everything right, and then you go to a restaurant socially distancing and a waiter who does not know that they have it slips their mask, coughs, forgets to wash something, touches the plate that ends up being… You know what I mean? There are a million different ways you can get it. Someone can cough and the ventilation system has it. It is a nameless, faceless thing that is coming after you. It is hard, even when you are as precautionary as we are in this building and away from the building. It is a global pandemic. It is non-discriminatory just to the NFL. This is something people around the world are having an issue with, not just the NFL.”

On coming out of the bye week with a mostly healthy Browns roster: 

“Whenever you have your starters back, it is a good thing. Definitely having everyone back up, and the bye week – even if you were not down, so to speak – just allows you to correct all those little ailments within your body and all those little tweaks, pulls and some spots that there is an ouch somewhere. It just allows you to get some sleep throughout the week and really come back fresh, so to speak. It is huge.”

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LB Mack Wilson:

On items the Browns addressed today:

“Just the moral of the story is to make sure that everybody is taking care of the team and trying their best to protect everyone by doing the right thing outside of the building. Everybody is just trying to keep their home safe and not letting any and everybody come to their home around them and their loved ones because those are the people that you are with every day so obviously they do not COVID and you do not, either. I feel like it is very important that you just make sure that you just taking care of things at home, most importantly, and not trying to bring it home around your family or anything like that.”

On hearing QB Baker Mayfield was being placed on the reserve/ COVID-19:

“It was crazy. At first I was like, ‘Dang, Baker got COVID?’ But then I saw that he was a close contact with someone that tested positive, which is big, as well, because they are going to treat just as if you have COVID. I feel like it is important that we stay six feet apart. I feel like that is hard on a lot of guys because we are a team and we may be close to one another, not on purpose. That is just something that we have been used to doing all our life. I feel like it is just very important that we just remind each other and remind ourselves to try to stay six feet apart.”

On if there was a lift at practice seeing RB Nick Chubb, TE Austin Hooper, G Wyatt Teller and LB Jacob Phillips back on the field:

“Oh yeah, it definitely gave me energy just to have everybody back. I just feel like this team is still building and we are still working on trying to become a great team. Just try to get everybody back healthy and to have those guys back today obviously gives us a huge boost as a team. I just can’t wait to see what we do week in and week out. I just can’t wait to see how we respond with having everybody back and how hard we want to go out each week and finish this second half of the season out strong.”

On his optimism about the team attacking the second part of the season, given his Twitter comments about his excitement for the second half of the year:

“It is just something that I had a chance to think about over the bye week. Just thinking about all the things that are stopping us from winning and just going back watching film and looking at how close we were to winning games and some of the things we were doing that was killing us as a team, we were beating ourselves a lot. Just small things that I can see the potential of us becoming a great football team. It is those things that we have to correct. Hopefully, the rest of the guys on the team did a self-evaluation, as well, and just were honest with themselves. ‘This is what I have to do different. This is what I have to do better. This is what I have to work on.’ I feel like we are headed in the right direction. We are just going to continue to take it one day at a time and just be at our best.”

On if he feels he will be much better in the second half of the season after having more time to recover from his knee injury: 

“Oh yeah, most definitely. Today, I felt good moving around. I feel like I am at 100 percent. Just going to continue to treat it as if it is still messed up to stay on top of it. Just go out and be the best version of myself and just be that guy that is always going to be willing to do whatever it takes to win and do whatever it takes to help the team win. I am just all about what can I do to help impact the guys around me that are on the field with me, even in the locker room or anything like that. I am just happy to be back feeling like myself.”

On evaluating the Raiders game and how the Browns defense can make corrections, particularly in the running game: 

“Obviously, that was one of our worst games as far as stopping the run. When we watched the film, it was not what they did. I feel like there are a lot of plays from that game where we mis-fitted runs where maybe the linebackers did not come down the field quick enough to get the double team off the D line so that they can win their one on ones. We were just shooting ourselves in the foot. That allowed them to get those five to six-yard runs every pop. That is something that we corrected over the bye and something that we went over today and corrected so that we can go and be at our best and just compete. It is all about who wants it more. We just have to continue to show that every day.”

On if the Browns defense can make impactful changes for the second half of the season following the team’s self-scout during the bye: 

“Honestly, that will be all up to the coaches. That is out of my control. That is out of my hands. Whatever adjustments they feel that they need to make to give us a better chance to be dominant or give us a better chance to be a better team, that is what it is going be. Obviously, you have guys on the field who may feel like they deserve more playing time or something like that, and the coach may think otherwise. It is not on us. It is all on the coaches. We are going to do whatever they ask us to do, and we are going to work hard because at the end of the day it is our team. They are the coaches, but we just have to make sure that we stick together as one and basically go with the coaches’ plan.”

On if he wore an Oakley face shield in practice today: 

“Yeah, everybody had to.”

On how different it is wearing an Oakley face shield: 

“It is alright. It is not as bad as I thought it was. I thought it was going to be kind of harder to breathe, but it is not as bad. I definitely would not want to wear it in a game, though.”

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