Browns HC Kevin Stefanski Provides Update on OBJ Situation

Opening statement:

“Good to see everybody. We will get (WR) Donovan Peoples-Jones back out there today. (CB) Denzel Ward and (FB) Andy Janovich also will be back out at practice. (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) will not be out there. He has been excused. (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and his representatives are continuing to talk. For today, Odell will not be out there.

“Looking forward to this challenge playing a really good Cincinnati Bengals team. I think they are well-coached. I think they are doing a nice job on offense, defense and special teams. They have a bunch of really good players. They added good players to their mix so we understand the challenge that this week presents.”

On if Beckham arrived to the facility and sent home or told not to arrive:

“We decided that, I think, this morning. He was not here.”

On what Berry and Beckham’s representatives are discussing:

“They are discussing a lot of things. The truth is I do not have a ton of details for you. I am happy to answer as much as I can, but I think some things we will know more as we go.”

On if Beckham has asked to be released:

“Again, that is something that I think his reps and Andrew will talk through.”

On what kind of a distraction the situation involving Beckham is for the team:

“I think we work really hard in this building to concern ourselves with things that are going on in this building and concern ourselves with the Cincinnati Bengals. That is really where we get laser-focused on the task at hand.”

On if the Browns are preparing to play Sunday without Beckham:

“I am really just worried about today. He is excused today.”

On if the situation with Beckham is fixable or not:

“I would just tell you, I am going to work with today. He is not here today. Again, like I mentioned, they are having some discussions so we will see where it goes.”

On his reaction to videos posted online by Beckham’s father:

“No reaction. I would just tell you social media in general, I am not on it. I am aware of things that are on there. I just think in general, we talk about ignoring the noise in our building, and certainly, there are a lot of things on social media that we need to ignore.”

On if he has talked to QB Baker Mayfield about the situation with Beckham:

“I have talked to a lot of our players about a lot of things.”

On how to ignore Beckham’s father’s comments about Mayfield:

“Again, I would just tell you, there are things that we focus on, and that is not one of them.”

On if Beckham needs to apologize:

“That is something I probably can’t answer.”

On if there is friction in the locker room despite what is being said publicly by Browns players:

“I think there is a legit feeling that we need to get a win this week. We have a big game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a really good team and another division opponent. I think the guys are laser-focused.”

On if he is concerned about players taking sides in the situation:

“What I would tell you is that we talk a lot about things in the team meetings with the players and individually. There are conversations, but our team is focused on the task at hand.”

On if this is a greater challenge to a head coach compared to COVID-19 challenges last year:

“I see the challenge in trying to get a win. We are 4-4. We have to get a win. Our lives depend on it is the way we look at it. We are desperate, and that is where our focus is.”

On Beckham saying at the beginning of the season he was all in for whatever role was required to win games and was not concerned with stats and when it ‘started to sour’:

“I can’t really get into the specifics. I would just tell you, right now, (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) and his representatives are working through all of those things.”

On if this can be repaired, given his track record of getting players to buy in:

“For me, it is probably best if I just stay on Wednesday and know that he is excused today. We will deal with everything else as it comes.”

On if Beckham could return to the team without QB Baker Mayfield’s OK:

“Again, I would tell you that there are a lot of conversations that are ongoing between Andrew and [Beckham’s] reps. I am sure there is substantive talk towards all of those things.”

On the decision to excuse Beckham today:

“Just felt that was the right thing to do.”

On if he is disappointed:

“No, I am excited for the opportunity this week.”

On if the Browns can run the desired offense and win games with Mayfield in the pocket due to Mayfield’s injury potentially limiting opportunities to make plays outside of the pocket on play-action roll outs, keepers and boots:

“Yeah, I have seen Baker win football games making a ton of plays from the pocket. Some of those plays on the perimeter that you mentioned have really been the defense designing to take some of those away. We have opportunities that we can make big plays from the pocket. We have this season. I think we will continue to.”

On rumors that Mayfield was deliberately not throwing Beckham the ball and if that is something he observed:

“No. I am not going to go down that road. I will just tell you that we work really hard to get guys open, get them the ball and share the ball. Those are always things that we are thinking about.”

On if the Browns have identified items from film to help improve the passing game:

“I think there are opportunities. Listen – I have told you guys and I believe this – I can think back to multiple times in that game where were called some bad plays, designed some bad plays and just did not get guys open. That is going to happen, and we will work really hard to make sure that we are putting guys in position. You are not going to hit every throw. Quarterbacks across the league, you watch it, and it is hard. Sometimes you are going to miss a throw. Sometimes you are going to have a drop. We are realistic about that. Having said that, I would tell you that I know what this group is capable of. I have seen it. We just have to do it more consistently.”

On how the Browns can adjust and improve week to week, given the team has a later bye this year compared to being able to self-scout during midseason last year:

“I think that is the NFL. I really think that is a week-to-week proposition. I do not think you need the bye week to implement a bunch of changes. That is what we as coaches need to do week to week.”

On how leadership and accountability could help the Browns prevent matters becoming a distraction:

“We work really hard as a team to make sure that we are accountable to each other and have a ton of conversations with different players on the team, but this is what part of being a team is. There are going to be times that you are going to have to work through some resilient moments.”

On how matters involving Beckham could impact WR Jarvis Landry, who is close with Beckham:

“I think Jarvis is a pro. I am not worried about Jarvis.”

On if he addressed the situation with the team this morning:

“Certainly, I address a lot of things with the team, but I would keep those things internal.”

On if the Browns could resolve the situation with Beckham today in order to have full clarity and focus on Sunday’s game:

“We talked about Jarvis as a pro, and I think I have a bunch of pros in there. I think they know how important Wednesday is in terms of our work week. I think they understand that we have to get out here and have a really good practice.”

On reports that the Browns came close to trading Beckham to the Saints yesterday:

“I do not know about those reports. No comment.”

On if Mayfield is seeing the field as desired:

“Yeah, as an offense, we have had good moments. We just have not done it consistently.”

On if the Browns need to redesign some of the pass routes and concepts to improve the pass game and get more separation:

“We are looking at it from every angle and really looking at it long and hard and saying, ‘Alright, No. 1, you have to score points, and you have to be explosive in the run and the pass.’ If we are not doing that, why and how do we fix it?’

On if he has talked with Beckham in the past 24 hours:

“I have not.”

On if he would encourage the Browns leadership council to have a meeting with teammates to clear the air of the situation with Beckham:

“I have spoken to a bunch of our players. I would tell you, leadership shows up in a bunch of different ways, and you do not be a captain and you do not need to be on the leadership council to lead. I trust that we have the right people in the locker room.”

On if he feels Mayfield is in the right frame of mind heading into a significant game against the Bengals:

“Yes, I do.”

On if it is a big adjustment to prepare for a Bengals team that is regularly scoring 30 points per game compared to a Steelers matchup that was expected to be a lower-scoring contest:

“You have to call and you have to play the game that is called for. We will see how it shakes out. Offensively, our mindset is always to score a bunch of points any which way can. Defensively, it is a tall task to slow this offense down. They have a bunch of really good players. Again, they have been in this scheme. The quarterback is playing at a high level. We understand the challenge here. When you add (Bengals WR Ja’Marr) Chase to this group, he is a dynamic player. We have to make sure that we are locked in from a preparation standpoint.”

On if he attempted to contact Beckham, given he said he has not talked with him in the past 24 hours:

“I will keep that between me and him.”

On a recent report that he told the team this morning that Beckham ‘is not part of the team anymore’:

“I would just tell you again, today he is excused, and we will see where this goes.”

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