DC Joe Woods (12.24.20)

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods:

On if the Browns considered giving DE Myles Garrett some time off and describing Garrett’s physical well-being at this point, given Garrett is not listed on the injury report as missing any time:

“I think he is fine. He missed a few weeks, and I think he is just getting back into football condition. He is fine.”

On if LB Mack Wilson was inactive last week due to not having a good week of practice prior to the NY Giants game and if Wilson is having a better week of practice prior to Sunday’s game:

“He is fine. I know it was a decision we talked about that (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) made, but he has practiced well this week. He is part of the plan just in terms of playing this Sunday.”

On if S Ronnie Harrison Jr. will be available on Sunday after being designated to return from IR and returning to practice:

“He is back on the field practicing. Looks good. Really, just giving him limited reps. It is something we are going to have to evaluate every day. I do not know if we will have him this week, but he should play in the near future.”

On characterizing Harrison’s potential availability on Sunday as of today and if Harrison is unlikely to play this week:

“We meet as a staff. We talk about each player with the training staff. I think it is unlikely that he will play this week to be honest with you, just because he just got back on the practice field. Look for him more on the field maybe next week.”

On the factors into the decision for Wilson to be inactive last week:

“That is really something in-house. Probably a better question for you to ask Coach Stefanski. It was something that he made the call on the final decision. Mack is back this week and doing a good job, and again, he is part of the plan to play this week.”

On if Wilson needs to show anything this week to solidify a spot on the Browns defense this week:

“Just continue to work hard, make plays on the practice field and translate it to gameday.”

On the impact of CB Denzel Ward when returning to the Browns defense:

“He gives you a lot of confidence. I feel like he is one of the better corners in the NFL. I feel he is capable of matching up and covering any receiver. When you have him in there, you are making calls and you want to play tight coverage, it just gives you that confidence that he can lock down whoever he is covering. Really, gave me comfort last week just to have him back.”

On how important is it to have versatility at S and a player who can do everything at the position, referencing Harrison and S Grant Delpit:

“It is critical. To me, the NFL has always been a league of matchups, and it changes week to week. Teams are spreading out more. The tight ends are more dynamic. When you have a guy who has the ability to go down and matchup against a tight end and you have a guy who can go down in the box, he can blitz and he can fit the run, it allows you to do a lot of things. That is what Ronnie brought to us. Somebody like Grant, he will bring that to us, as well. Having those two guys in the plans for the future is exciting.”

On if the S position is evolving across the NFL to where it is not just someone who plays deep:

“You still want that ranging safety. You want a guy who can go sideline to sideline and make plays. To have a guy to create matchups – that is what offensives are doing is they are spreading out receivers, and tight ends are more athletic – so when you have a guy who can play in the post, play in the box and go matchup with a tight end, it just gives you the ability to create different packages and move that player around to your advantage.”

On if DE Myles Garrett’s health has improved each week and if the hope is that Garrett will be 100 percent soon: 

“I think he has gotten in better football shape the last couple of weeks. I do not notice it as much in practice because we rotate guys. In the game when you get those long series and it gets into the fourth quarter, a lot of those guys look winded. Just based on our conversations, he is fine.”

On if the Browns would consider using ‘a pitch count’ with Garrett: 

“We rotate. We always want him out there, especially getting into the fourth quarter and you want to be able to rush the passer. That is part of our plan. (Defensive line) Coach (Chris) Kiffin does a great job of rotating guys in and out. Obviously, you would like for him to be in there all of the time, but we have to be smart in terms of what we are exposing him to physically.”

On if allowing only six points last week was a step in the right direction for the Browns defense after the past high-scoring games:

“It was good to play a game like that. The most important thing is always just winning the games defensively. Being prideful, you do not want to give up a lot of points, and we have this year at times. It feels good. After playing that game, it feels like we are moving in the right direction. Week to week, you never know what is going to happen.”

On how important DT Sheldon Richardson has been to the Browns defense this season:

“He is very important to our defense. He has flexibility along the defensive line. There are some things we do when we create some different fronts, and he allows us to do certain things because he can play multiple positions. Just the veteran leadership and the experience. He is just fun to be around. He keeps everything light. He is definitely a major part of our defense. I am glad that he is able to play this week.”

On if he believes Richardson should have made the Pro Bowl this season:

“It is a vote. He is a Pro Bowl player for us, I will say that. How everybody else views him, that is always up to the vote and however the coaches see him.”

On Richardson helping the Browns force a turnover on downs on fourth-and-2 against the NY Giants:

“That was a huge play. Especially early in the game getting off the field on downs and not giving up any points, that helped turn the momentum for us. Again, he was critical. He was sitting right in that A gap and did a nice job of controlling his area.”

On the identity of the Browns defense, particularly given the number of players who have contributed this season, and the Browns defense’s identify seeming to be based on takeaways early in the season:

“I am still definitely proud of the takeaways because initially, that is the most critical stat. The team that normally wins the turnover margin wins the game. I still feel very prideful and I feel like the guys have done a great job of that, and we work on it every week. To be honest with you, I just like the guys’ fight. They show up every week and we have our identity we go by and we talk about all the time, but when the guys show up on gameday, they fight and they fight for 60 minutes. Whenever you have a defense that does that, you are always going to give yourself a chance to win, and we proved that throughout the year.”

On if S Andrew Sendejo will start this week when returning from the concussion:

“He has been back at practice so everything looks fine and he is healthy. He will go back to starting at the free safety position. Like you said earlier, we played so many guys this year. It is just part of it. I like it because now if something happens and you put a guy in, it is not that he has never played. We have a bunch of guys who have game experience so we will work a little rotation back there, as well.”

On LB Jacob Phillips’ development this season and Phillips’ performance against the NY Giants:

“He did a great job. There are still some things. He is a see-ball, get-ball guy. When the lights come on, he plays with his hair on fire, and that is what you like about him. He is physical and very competitive. He is just going to keep getting better with every rep he gets. He missed some time earlier and that kind of hurt him a little bit. Now that he is back in the fold, I just look forward to seeing how he can progress throughout the rest of this season.”

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