DE Olivier Vernon (8.17.20)

DE Olivier Vernon:

On waiting to see what his future held during the offseason and why it was important for him to stay in Cleveland:

“First of all, at the end of the day when it comes to the NFL, it is a business. I understand that business aspect of it. Everything during the offseason just had to get sorted out. Kept in communication with the coaches and the GM to figure out everything that was going on. Just staying ready, trying to get healthy and everything like that. Those guys brought a lot of good coaches in here and brought in a lot of talent, and we are trying to make something happen this year. For them to have me a part of it shows that they want me here, and I am glad to be here. Now, it is just time to get to work.”

On his mindset heading into the season and if playing hurt last season adds more motivation:

“It was really unfortunate for that to happen, but it is football. I have been during this offseason trying to get healthy. My goals for this year are to play healthy and contribute to the team. There are always going to be ups and downs and hurdles that you have to bound over, but that was just one them last year. It was unfortunate. The whole season last year ended up being unfortunate for everybody. We had high expectations, and it just did not go the way we planned it. That is the NFL for you. At the end of the day, it isn’t a fairytale. There is not a fairytale script when it comes to this league. You play in the best league. You are playing against the best. Everybody has talent. Looking forward to this year, guys getting on the same page and putting in that work. We have a lot to look forward to right now.”

On if he and DE Myles Garrett can be more effective in this defensive scheme:

“(Defensive coordinator) Joe Woods has a good plan. He keeps it very basic, very simple. He just wants guys to play fast. Joe Woods has had success a lot of places he has been – in Denver and San Francisco. Him implementing this type of style of defense, I feel like it could benefit a lot of guys.”

On why the Browns were unable to meet high expectations last season:

“For one, everybody put those high expectations just because of how good we looked on paper. I feel like me coming in, it was a very young team across the board, and me being in this league for a little while, nothing is ever going to be given to you. You have to earn, scratch and claw to get a win. It is not going to come easy and no teams are going to just fold for you just because you are projected to make freaking run to the damn Super Bowl. If anything, it is going to be even harder for you. As far as the maturity level and having those expectations, too, I feel like that kind of got misconstrued so when the season did start and did not start off the way we wanted it to, especially when I remember one of the first games, I do not know how many penalties we had, but I had never been a part of any football like that in my life. Seeing that, we needed a lot more discipline. Right now, it is hit the reset button. It is a whole new coaching staff. We have a lot of different faces on this team. Now, we write our own script now for this year.”

On if the Browns are more mature and better equipped to handle this season:

“I think it was a lesson to a lot of the guys and a lot from last year, especially when you know how long the season is and the type of competition we have in our division. We have Baltimore, the two-time defending champs in our division. It is always going to be a battle. It is not easy to win in this league. Week in, week out, you have to bring it no matter what. No team is every going to lay down for you. I think that was a learning lesson and learning curve for a lot of guys. Hopefully, a lot of guys gathered that information and carry it with them, and hopefully, that reminds them, especially for this upcoming season, just to give more motivation into staying focused, staying disciplined and getting after it.”

On his impressions of T Jedrick Wills Jr. and Wills transition to LT:

“He is making a big transition. From what I understand, he played right tackle in college. Personally, doing that transition, especially coming into the league and to be left tackle, you have big shoes to fill. It is not going to be easy, but he is putting the work in. He is just trying to get better as far as technique-wise. Especially under the circumstances we are in now with an offseason with no OTAs, no preseason games and training camp, it is going to be a real fast learning curve for him. All he can do right now is soak in what he can and try to just focus on little things each and every day just to get better at it and get more comfortable on that side. The sky is the limit for him.”

On if the Browns defense has something to prove this year:

“That is how the story is always going to be. Defense is always going to be on the back burner, no matter what. I feel like all we have to do is do our jobs on defense and worry about winning on our side of the ball. Everything else is going to take care of itself. We can only control what we can. I think a lot of guys understand that. Even when they bring in veteran guys, the (S Andrew) Sendejos here and being able to have guys like him to teach guys in the secondary to boost the IQ up on certain things. Anything you can do as far as just learning from your mistakes from last year and getting better from that, honestly. All we can do is play defense. Play defense and try to win on defense. That is it. Everything else is going to take care of itself.”

On if the necessary discipline and structure is in place this year after not feeling it was in place with the roster last year:

“This is going on two and a half, maybe going on three weeks that we have all been together now so it is not going to just happen with the snap of a finger. We are just getting into pads today. Now, it is just going to really start strong with the people we have on our team and   we just have to start building. Coach K (Head Coach Kevin Stefanski) is coming in here, and he has been doing everything as far as game planning and how he wants to structure the beat, he is doing a great job of that. He is all about efficiency – efficiency of everything. Work hard but work smart. Bringing in more veteran guys to the team helps establish how he wants this thing to run. I feel like the more time that we have and the more time that we are gelling together, it is just going to help the whole process. Right now, it is just the beginning stages. We have to just keep building, working, put our heads down and try to make this thing work because it is uncommon ground for a lot of people and a lot of teams. You can’t make excuses about anything or about not being ready. Everybody is in the same boat right now. I think we have maybe 14 or 15 days until the season starts so it is a quick turnaround. We have to have everybody on their P’s and Q’s and everybody crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s. That is basically the main focus right now.”

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