Kevin Stefanski Spoke to the Media Today on COVID 12/14/21

Opening statement:

“An update from yesterday, (TE) Harrison Bryant and (S) Ronnie Harrison (Jr.), I expect those guys to practice tomorrow. You saw we added eight guys to the COVID list. We are going to have a team meeting and virtual meetings this afternoon and then we will have a walkthrough over here later today. That really has always been the plan just off of a short week playing on Saturday. We will bring the guys in this evening and get some work done. It is an important week. This is an AFC opponent, a good football team that we are facing at our place on Saturday. The only show in town, which I think the guys are excited about, and it is a good team. (Raiders Head Coach) Coach (Rich) Bisaccia is a veteran special teams coordinator. I think he is doing a great job leading that team right now. On offense, they are very, very explosive. I think (Raiders QB Derek) Carr has incredible arm talent. (Raiders TE Darren) Waller and (Raiders WR Hunter) Renfrow, just an impressive group of pass receivers. A great running back (Raiders RB Josh Jacobs) that is a complete running back. On defense, it is a (Raiders defensive coordinator) Gus Bradley defense so that poses its own challenges. We are going to have to work real hard this week to understand the intricacies of that defense, and they have two really, really good edge rushers. I mentioned Coach Bisaccia so you know their special teams is on point. A big challenge, The guys are excited about it. We have to get our work in and get ready for Saturday.”

On how the additions to the reserve/COVID-19 list change the team’s preparation for Saturday and level of concern of potentially having more positive results as the week progresses:

“We will follow the protocols. We are in the intensive protocols, which means you are wearing masks in the building, virtual meetings, cafeteria is just grab and go and those type of things, but we will get our work in. That is what we do. We have done it before. We will have our virtual meetings, and then when we are on the practice field, we will make sure that we are locked in and ready to go.”

On the challenge of G Wyatt Teller and T Jedrick Wills going on the reserve/COVID-19 list when facing the Raiders pass rushers:

“We have seen through last season and I have seen it this year, guys step up. That is what the NFL is about. You are without guys due to injury or otherwise, and guys step up. That is why we have a bunch of players on this team that we trust.”

On if he feels the need to address the team regarding the latest circumstances around COVID-19 as it relates to the significance of the team’s next four games and the need to be resilient:

“No, I feel like we have pros, and I think those guys understand what is really important is this game on Saturday because it is a good opponent, it is an AFC game and we have to come ready to go. That is why this week of preparation and how we handle these meetings and how we do when we are together out on the field, that is really all that matters.”

On if G Michael Dunn will start at RG and will G Blake Hance start at LT with Teller and Wills likely unavailable on Saturday:

“We will work through all of those types of things, but obviously, those are two guys who you mentioned who we certainly trust.”

On how Browns players have responded to the news today regarding teammates being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“I have not had a chance to see the guys eyeball to eyeball yet, but I have been texting with them and I will see them when they get over here for the walkthrough.”

On if it is beneficial that the positive results occurred early in the week so the Browns can adjust their gameplan accordingly, although there could be additional positive results later this week:

“Honestly, you are right, you have to be ready throughout the week. We found out with (CB) Greg Newsome (II) you have to be ready for maybe the last play of practice. That is just how it is so we will be ready. We will adjust accordingly.”    

On if Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry will bring in new players to fill the gaps after players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list or if only practice squad players will be available, given the timing of the circumstances and the short week:

“I think there is time certainly. You mentioned the guys on the practice squad, our guys on the practice squad work really hard, and they are here for a reason. They are developing, they are working every week and they are giving a great look, but on the side, they are trying to stay ready for their opportunity. Again, they are here for a reason.”

On his level of concern about the potential spread of COVID-19 within position groups:

“We will worry about today.”

On the status of P Jamie Gillan, LB Anthony Walker Jr. and TE David Njoku:

“I do not have an update on those guys in particular. Again, we will just follow protocols on each one of them. We are just going to focus on today. I really think that is the prudent thing to do is make sure that we do a great job with our virtual meetings and do a great job with this walkthrough.”

On if the Browns are instructing players to limit their time in public in order to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19:

“I think it is important that you follow the rules that are in place and to keep yourself and your family safe. We have constantly messaged that. Prior to right now, we have not been in intensive protocols. We are in a really, really good spot from a vaccination status and all of those types of things. I think using general common sense and using the CDC guidelines is always smart.”

On if there is anything the Browns wish the team had done differently in order to potentially avoid having to place the recent players on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“I do not know the specifics in that regard. We make sure that we follow the rules.”

On if the Browns will now be tested daily for COVID-19 after being placed in the enhanced protocols:

“It is, but I am not sure for how long.”

On if the Browns will require the booster shot for players, given the NFL announced it will be mandated for Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff members:

“We have definitely educated players and staff on the booster. I am not going to get into the specifics with that. I can tell you that I am boosted because that does not violate any laws.”

On what more can be done to help mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19, in addition to following the protocols, given the number of players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list today:

“I think with the news and with what is going on today, you just have to be smart. That is what we have been trying to do really throughout this season because the protocols have been in place all of the way back through training camp. It is something we have been working on even through this season. We know last year was last year, but it is not like it has gone away. We make sure the guys are following the protocols that are put in place.”

On how the Browns will gameplan without fully knowing who will be available for the Raiders game:

“We know who we have today and then we will adjust accordingly.”

On how the short week adds to the challenges of preparing for Saturday’s game with the recent COVID-19 results:

“We are just focused on Saturday – 4:30 p.m., an AFC opponent, a good football team, great players and great coaches. We are excited about the opportunity. That is kind of what is in front of us so that is really where our focus is.”

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