DC Steve Wilks (11.29.30)

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

“Good afternoon. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. Last week, we talked about how depleted we were with our defensive line, and I can’t be more proud of how those guys stepped up and performed this past week. Starting with (DT) Sheldon Richardson, tremendous job in really trying to neutralize the run game. I think he had two sacks, and all the guys stepped up up front. We have to have another great performance out of those guys again this week in order to accomplish our goal.”


On DT Larry Ogunjobi’s mental state since returning to practice:

“Larry has been great. It has been good to get him back in the building. He is very excited to be here. He has had a great week of practice. He is just looking to get out there and perform.”


On Steelers QB Devlin Hodges:

“No. 1, I think he is athletic. He does a good job in really trying to buy time with his feet. I think he is going to do a little bit more, in my anticipation talking to the guys, we have to be ready for a possibility of a little bit more rollout and a little bit more boot trying to get him on the perimeter. Most importantly, we have to make sure that we contain him. I think he does a decent job of still trying to push the ball down the field, and I know that they have a lot of good running backs. (Steelers RB James) Conner practiced yesterday – he was limited. (Steelers RB Benny) Snell is a good running back, as well as (Steelers RB Jaylen) Samuels. We have to stop the run, and that is going to be the key for  us up front.”


On if it seems like Hodges has the ability for deep passes despite not taking too many deep shots thus far:
“I do, and I really think that is just part of what they do when you look at the makeup and what they try to do offensively trying to push the ball down the field vertically. We just have to be ready for that. You never really know what a young quarterback is just stepping in there and a guy that has not been in there much. You go back and you watch what he did against the Chargers when he came in. They are going to do pretty much their offense. That is going to be the key.”


On the impact of Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey’s absence:

“I do not really know how much it changes things. I will say he is definitely a Pro Bowl-caliber center. Not having a guy in there like that it may affect them, but I am sure whoever the backup is that they put in there is going to be efficient and we just have to be ready once again to stop the run up front and try to get those guys into third-and-long.”


On the potential boost if DE Oliver Vernon is able to return this week:

“It is going to be a great boost if he can go. He has been limited this week and trying to see exactly how he feels. He was playing at a high level before he left. Hopefully, we can try to get him back this week.”


On if there is any less edge to this game due to Steelers QB Mason Rudolph not starting:

“We are just trying to really be 1-0 after this game. That has been our mantra. That is everything that (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) has been preaching to the team. Regardless of whoever it may be out there at quarterback, we are just trying to make sure that we go out there and do our job and try to put ourselves in the best position to win this game.”


On if he has ever been around a player who has had an interception streak like LB Joe Schobert:

“No, and I hope it continues this week. Joe is playing at a high level. Probably one of the best linebackers in the league right now in how he is performing. He is a leader for us. He commands the defense out there, getting everybody aligned and things that we ask of him. I am excited about his performance thus far this year, and hopefully, he can keep it going.”


On if he felt like Richardson took the whole Browns DL on his shoulders last week, given the absence of multiple players:

“I did. He has been a leader from Day 1, but the way he stepped up last week with those being out and really just trying to corral everybody and then to have the performance that he had out there on the field, I just commend him tremendously for his efforts and most importantly, his performance.”


On how much Schobert’s success is due to being at the right place at the right time and how much is due to his ability to read plays:

“It is a little bit of both, and I always say it starts in practice. I tell guys all the time you have to practice well for you to perform well in the game. Joe has that consistency every day in practice. You are right, he is smart, he understands, he studies film and he has great anticipated in exactly what is coming. We always talk about the formation is talking to you, and you have to listen with your eyes. He does some great things in regards to that pre-snap/post-snap play, and he puts himself in position to make plays.”


On the Browns’ decisions to waive DT Devaroe Lawrence:

“When you talk about personnel decisions, I really leave that up to Freddie and (General Manager John) Dorsey. Devaroe is one of my favorites. He was doing some good things for us, but again, I wish him all the best. I do not know if anybody picked him up yet, but hopefully, they will. He is a good player.”


On DE Bryan Cox:

“Bryan has a high motor, a big effort guy. He does some tremendous things for us just rushing the passer. He is really solid in the run game. We have experience with Bryan from Carolina and know him and what he brings to the table.”


On if an environment like Heinz Field also affects the defense, given attention is mostly played to how an away crowd impacts a visiting offense:

“I think we are going to be excited just for the mere fact of we have not won there since 2003. That is saying a lot in itself. Our guys are going to accept that challenge. We have had a great week of practice. We are looking forward to going up there, a divisional opponent and it is going to be a good game.”


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