G Joel Bitonio (10.29.20)

G Joel Bitonio:

On being named an NFLPA player representative: 

“Yeah, I am not our main player rep. I am an alternate. It is something you get older on the team, and you just want to make sure decisions are being made that affect all players and people have that information. I just wanted to help out. It was partially (C) JC (Tretter) is involved in the NFLPA and I was kind of part of that this offseason seeing what he does. Just want to be a part of it and try and help them help the players out when you have a chance.”

On if he sees himself having a political future: 

“No, I do not think so. I will leave that to the politicians.”

On the Raiders DL: 

“They are actually really active. They play hard. I know (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan has a lot of experience with their defensive line coach (Rod Marinelli). They run a lot of games. They play hard. They really missed quite a few sacks. They have been close on quite a few, and they have missed some. They run a lot of games. They have different fronts. We are going to see some three-down stuff with spinners. We are going to see some four-down. They have all types of blitz looks. They have a big array of things, and I think they are still learning the system of who rushes where and their rush length stuff, but you can tell they are getting close. The game last week was a close game. They got kind of blown out late in the game, but they are a good team and their front actually has some players that can move around and find ways to get open for them.”


On if opposing defenses have put more players in the box to try and stop the Browns running game: 

“I think it has been pretty similar. Maybe one or two on a play here or a play there when they see a certain formation, but I have not seen anything too over exaggerated by defensive fronts. I think early in the year, we have kind of had some seven, eight-man boxes anyway, and they have kind of kept that as we have gone. Pittsburgh always has a heavy box, and that is kind of how they play and they use their guys up front. I think it is been pretty balanced throughout the whole year.”

On if he could see defenses adding more players into the box now with WR Odell Beckham Jr out.: 

“Odell is a guy that takes the top off defenses. I think teams are a little bit more nervous of him going over the top and stuff of that nature. They might run different coverages now. You never know what they are what they are thinking when you do not have a No. 1 receiver on your team. He is out for now, but I know we have guys that are going to step in and try and fill that void, which is definitely tough void. They could have another guy in the box, but I think we have the guys in the passing game to get open and to make those plays for us.”

On the significance of the ‘Stay in the Game’ t-shirts players and coaches are wearing today: 

“It is something the Browns Foundation has been doing for quite a few years now, at least the last few years since I have been here. We are just trying to get the community… We know there is a digital divide, and that is something that our social justice team has been working on. We are trying to close that digital divide for some of the lower income areas. We are also making a statement that we want kids to stay in school. If you miss school and if you miss classes, that is the easiest way to drop out and not get there. If you have over 10 misses in a year, it is one of those things that there is a significant chance you are not going to graduate or not move on to the next grade. It is all things that the Browns have been doing. We are trying to communicate with the kids and get out there – and right now it is hard – but get out there and stay in school and ‘Stay in the Game’ – that is one of the Browns Foundation’s mottos.”


On if he noticed a difference in how locked in QB Baker Mayfield was on Sunday: 

“As we were playing, I felt really comfortable. I felt like our offense was moving the ball well and we had a chance to score pretty much every time we touched the ball. The Bengals did a good job of holding onto the ball, though. I think we only got four chances in the second half to score, and we scored on all of them. I did not know he was so locked in where we had no incompletions. I was just playing the game. It was impressive. I would not say there was any difference. I think he was just playing, and we had a confidence in the offense so that, ‘Hey, we are going to go down there and we have a chance to score every time we touch the ball.’”

On if he has seen any changes in Mayfield’s personality or confidence this year: 

“No, he is the same guy. He shows up to work and he has a good attitude about it. Obviously, he is not happy go lucky all the time if we are not playing well, but I think his confidence to go out there and do it each and every week has been impressive. It is NFL. You are going to have ups and you are going to have downs. How do you move on? How do you improve from that? He has always had the right mindset. I am not in the quarterback room all the time and things of that nature, but once we get on the practice field and on the game field, he has that mindset of ‘Hey, it is time. We are going to have a good game this week.’”


On what T Chris Hubbard is bringing to the OL, including as the starting RG in recent weeks: 

“His experience. He has been in the league going on eight years now. He has never played guard before in a game so he has had that experience a little over two and a half games now. He is just a steady veteran. He stepped in. Coach talks about all the time of being ready when your number is called because there are injuries in this game. He has come in and done a good job. As a group, we did have a great game against the Pittsburgh D line, but we came back against Cincinnati and we protected well. Our goal this week is to do the same and hopefully get the run game going so we can take our shots and do things like that. He has done a good job. He knows offense. Him and (T) Jack (Conklin) have a good rapport. They were working together at tackle before he moved to guard so they have that rapport with each other, and it has been impressive. That is the thing, what teams can come in and replace guys when they are banged up and injured and try not to lose a beat.”

On the nature of political discussions in the locker room with the election next week: 

“It has been good. We do not hear that much about it. I do not think guys are like discussing it in between meetings necessarily, but I think when there have been talks, it has been pretty cordial. People just want information, and we did that with the social justice group. I am pretty sure the whole team is registered to vote, and I know a lot of guys have already mailed in their ballots or done early voting. Tuesday of next week, everybody having off – we have tests – everybody is going to have their chance to go out there and vote and hear their voice. That was one of the things we wanted to discuss is voting is the key to change, and we have to get out there and be part of that if we want to talk about change and we want to talk about fixing things in our communities. Tuesday is going to be a good day to show that these guys are out there, we are voting and we are part of this community. I would not say there have been political discussions all the time, but if someone has one, I think people are just open and want to learn what is this, what is that, how are we going about certain things and what are people’s opinions. It is nice because you have so many different backgrounds in a football locker room that you actually have a national kind of audience when you talk about those things.”


On if the Browns have adjusted their COVID-19 protocols after what occurred with the Raiders OL last week: 

“From the start, we have been trying to social distance. The O line meets in the team room so it is a huge room. Now, we have made sure of it. We make sure we are four or five seats away from each other and a couple rows away. When we get on the field, it is hard because you want to talk about the plays. You get off to the sideline, and you are like, ‘Hey, what did you do on this one or what happened on that one?’ When we are at practice, we try and say the six feet apart. It is a huge thing. If you test positive on a Thursday or Friday and you have to sit out for five days because you are close contact, you are not going to have a starting O line at least out there, if you have any close contacts. It is one of the things we are trying to stress. Obviously, the main goal is to not get COVID, but some of that is out of our control. Now, we are just trying to be as careful as possible with the close contacts and trying to stay as far apart as we can while still being able to accomplish our goals at practice.”

On if not being able to spend as much time with the OL this season due to the COVID-19 protocols: 

“The toughest part is it does not feel like a real NFL season in the sense where we can go out to eat with each other and we can meet each other’s wives, girlfriends and families. For the rookies, it is little bit different. They are just here and they did all these Zoom meetings in the offseason. Usually, you have an O line dinner pretty much once a week at someone’s house, at a restaurant or something. You get to just learn what these people do off the field, and it is a little bit harder. Technology has helped that, but it is one of those things that you miss. We are trying to keep people safe and we are trying to get a season in, and that is the most important thing right now. Hopefully, years down the road we will be able to make up for that.”

On Raiders T Trent Brown:

“I have seen him in the past. I know he has been on a couple of teams now, but he signed a big deal with the Raiders. The thing that stands out is how big he is. He in a monstrous guy, and he actually has pretty athletic feet for a guy that big. Usually if you are that big, it is tough to get into position. When he gets in the pass pro, he gets his few kicks in and he is a wall now. It is hard for guys to bulrush him. It is hard for guys to get around him because he is so big and can move athletically. In the run game, when he gets his hands on guys, he moves his feet well. They have a big O line, I know that group is a bunch of big guys, and they like to run block and they like to get physical, but he is the biggest of the group. It is just cool to see a guy that big that can move that well, and he is a good player.”

On if there is anything different about DE Myles Garrett this year:

“I think he is on a mission, mentally. Physically, he has always been a freak, and the way he can bend and move is just impressive, his first step and his power. I think mentally he is on a mission. He has always been there, but I think with missing some games last year and being injured a couple of times, I think he wants to be on a mission to prove that he is the best pass rusher in the NFL.”

On the mindset with the possibility of heading into the bye 6-2 and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski’s message of taking care of the players after the bye once the team is done being fully focused on this week’s game:

“His whole motto all year has been one week at a time. That has kind of been his motto. He understands what is ahead, as well. He looks at the big picture while still taking it one week at a time. As a group of guys, we understand we are going to have some days off and we are going to have a week off where we are not going to have to play a game. You try and put it out there as best you can every week, but this week, there is some stuff on the backend. If we can get the win this week, I think it is big for our momentum and big for us going into the week and the halfway point of the season. It is a natural break in the schedule. It is big for us. No one is really looking ahead to that. We can’t travel anywhere. We are going to be in Ohio. We are going to be in Cleveland and Berea during that time anyways. We are really trying to focus on the Raiders. We know they are trying to get a win, too. They are at .500 right now, and it is a big game. That is kind of where our mindset it. After the game, it will be a relief once we get a few days off. Right now, we are real focused on the Raiders.”

# # #