G Joel Bitonio (11.19.20)

G Joel Bitonio:

On dealing with another interesting week in intensive protocols and also not having T Jack Conklin at practice when preparing for the Eagles pass rush:

“It is tough. Last week, we got put into the intensive protocol so we just kind of stuck in there now, and I know the NFL is mandating that everybody stays in the intensive protocol starting this weekend so we kind of have a jump on that. We are getting used to it, meeting at home and just being here for practice, workouts and things of that nature.

“As far as Jack goes, it is one of those things where we are ready for 2020 and it has been wild. We have done a pretty good job on COVID so far, especially at least on most of the close contacts and stuff. We will see. Hopefully, we will get him back by the end of the week. I know (T Kendall) Lamm has been working his butt off at right tackle, and he takes a ton of reps anyways on the scout team – left side and right side. He will be ready if he has to go. Obviously, Jack is still in meetings, getting all of the practice film and those things. He knows what he is doing. He has been playing in the league for five years now. I think he will be ready if he is cleared to go by then, but if not, I think we have the confidence and the faith in Kendall. He has played a lot of football in this league, as well.”

On the boost of potentially having Conklin back against the Eagles pass rush:

“It would be huge. He is a great player. You have seen that this year. He has come in and done a good job for us. That is the strength of their defense is their front four. (Eagles DE) Brandon Graham is one of the best edge guys in the league, and to have Jack match up with him, we like him battling him. We know it will be a tough battle, but we like having Jack out there and it would be big for us. He is one of our better players on offense, and to have him out there would be huge.”

On G Wyatt Teller’s performance in the first game back from injury and having the starting five Browns OL back together:

“It was good. It was good to have the five guys back. It took us awhile to get the run game going. Early in the game, we missed a few with just one or two guys – an edge guy on one, an inside guy on the next – and we just missed one or two blocks. As the game wore on, we had a chance and we kind of wore them down a little bit. Late in the game, you saw he had a couple of good pulls around the edge. It is nice to be able to pull both ways with both guards. It is just good. I think we have five solid guys who can be the important part or important block on each play when we get Wyatt back in there. It was good just to have the five guys. I think that is how we want to finish games is finishing games on the ground and run the ball. It is a little bit less stressful for us than dropping back to pass late in the game. If you can have the lead and run the ball, it is nice. There were some good blocks. I know he would have a few that he wanted back early in the game, getting kind of that rust out, but as we went on, I thought we kind of got our cohesion back and we started rolling late in that game.”

On what he misses most not being able to meet in the Browns OL room every day:

“First and foremost, the Thanksgiving decorations. I think they actually decorated for Thanksgiving, but we have not been able to be in the offensive line room since they decorated it so that is a little disappointing. From an O line perspective, we hang out in there all of the time. We had pizza parties last year. Wednesdays after practice, we would bring pizza in and donuts on the weekends. Just things that you do in the O line room and kind of joke around. When you are on a Zoom call, one person is talking and it is hard for everybody to interact so you do not have that 5-10 minutes before a meeting or 5-10 minutes after a meeting where you can really interact. Just off the field, we do not get to hang out. Obviously, we are blessed to play football for a living, but we do not have those date nights and the O line and wives getting together and the O line dinners on Thursday nights. Just things that you normally do where you get to know your guys more. We are still around them, but it is just not the same. Obviously, everybody is sacrificing right now so it is a very minute thing for us to sacrifice, but it is definitely something we miss.”

On if the Browns OL has found ways to replicate some of the personal elements that are missing this year: 

“We were meeting for a little bit. We still had Halloween decorations. We got to see that. They dressed up a couple of times for us for Halloween, the rookies did. That was fun. It is hard on the Zoom. We just kind of get in and get our work done and do that kind of thing.”

On what WR Jarvis Landry has meant to the Browns since being traded to Cleveland:

“He is just a tough, reliable guy. He is there every game, no matter how banged up he is and how beat up he is for practice or walkthrough. He is ready to go once we start playing those games. That is something in this league, availability is one of the best abilities, and he is there every week. You know he is professional. He knows what he is doing. Even when the ball is not in his hands – I know for the receivers it is hard because everybody is so used to 10 touchdowns, 100 catches and all these milestones, and obviously he has done that in his career, he is at 600 catches – the way he walks and the way he leads in that sense where we are finishing the game on the ground, we need five O linemen, two tight ends, receivers, full backs and we need everybody blocking, and he is the first guy to throw his body in there to block, no matter how he is feeling. I think that is just a testament to his want to win and his pride in that. It is just a tough guy that loves football. You can’t have too many of those guys.”

On if knew the type of leader Landry was prior to his arrival in Cleveland:

“No, we were in the same draft class so I had heard of him, like you said, and I knew he had a good start to his career in Miami. I had not been around him before so it is hard to really understand that type of passion. You guys saw it on Hard Knocks the way he got into those guys and the way he leads in that sense. I think more than anything, he is not the most vocal guy at practice of all time, but he is always there, he is always willing to work and you know when it comes to Sunday, he has his game face on. It is like anything you need him to do, he is going to step into that role. That is really all you can ask.”

On if it is possible for an NFL team to win a game without attempting a pass in this era of the game:

“I think that would be tough. I think if they caught onto it, they are going to send nine or 10 guys into the box. It would be difficult. Even like Army, Navy and those teams take like four or five passes a game to get their shots down the field. I think it would be really tough to win a game without throwing.”

On the San Francisco 49ers attempting only eight passes in a playoff win last season:

“That is pretty impressive. It might be able to be done. Eight passes is a lineman’s dream for sure.”

On it being difficult to find a coach who would not attempt a pass in an NFL game:

“You would have to get up early and then maybe throw in some wrinkles, some reverses, some quarterback boots and things that are still going to throw the defense off. You definitely would have to get up early because he would not want to be trying run the ball down two touchdowns for too long.”

On what Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz does with the Eagles DL and who he will primarily have to contend with most on Sunday: 

“He has that four-down front with the wide-9s. I think they stop the run on their way to the quarterback. That is their motto. They are going to try and get after the quarterback. It is not just the edge guys, like we talked about (Eagles DE) Brandon Graham and (Eagles DE Derek) Barnett. They have obviously (Eagles DT) Fletcher Cox, one of the best 3-techniques in the league and then (Eagles DT) Malik Jackson and (Eagles DT Javon) Hargrave is coming over from Pittsburgh so we have some experience with him. Those five guys and (Eagles DE Josh) Sweat off the bench too at defensive end and (Eagles DE) Vinny Curry, as well, they have eight guys deep that literally can play. It is kind of like a hockey team where they have four guys out there, they go as hard as they can for a few plays and they rotate. They are penetrators. They get up the field. They try and disrupt. The linebackers are very gap sound. Whatever gap these guys have, there is not a ton of movement. The Colts have a lot of movement where they are slanting guys and stuff. These guys are playing their gaps. They are running. If it does not get home, they will blitz if the four guys will not get home. It is not a huge thing they do, but they do have and have shown some pretty unique blitzes. There are some games, too. Throwing it long, they like the TE-ET, but their main objective is they have four guys that they think can win one-on-one battles and they are going to try and let those guys win their matchups.”


On if he has spent any time looking at where the Browns are in the current playoff standings: 

“Not really. I watch enough NFL games on Monday and Sunday to see the playoff picture and I know there are six teams at 6-3 or something like that. We have matchups with a couple of them coming down the stretch. We have played a couple of them already. You see all that stuff, but I think by the end of it, it is going to shake itself where in a couple weeks it is going to be there are a couple teams that are 8-3 and a couple teams that are 6-5 and kind of see your way out. I just feel like you see it and it is part of it, but really, we have to take care of our business this week. Philadelphia is a good team. They are first place in their division. They have won games. They have been injured, but they are getting healthy. They have all the weapons. They have a lot of the guys that they won a Super Bowl with only a few years ago. It is going to be a challenge for us. That is our main goal. If we win enough games and if we keep winning games, by the end of the year, we are going to be one of the seven teams that are in the playoffs, and that is really our thought process right now.”

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