HC Freddie Kitchens (8.12.19)

Head Coach Freddie Kitchens:

On DE Chad Thomas’ status after being taken off the field on a stretcher during practice:

“He is at the hospital just getting further testing. He is moving all him extremities. Just precautionary to make sure everything is OK. Anytime something happens like a stinger or anything dealing with any issues like that, you want to be more cautious than anything. That is what we are doing.”


On if an injury like Thomas’ sucks some of the life out of practice today:

“It does. In our game, that is reality. Sometimes that happens during the course of the game. Mentally, we have to keep moving forward. At the end of the day, this is still practice. You do not want to see your teammate laying there. The protocol from anything like that is sometimes it looks worse than it is – not to make any light of it; it is a serious nature – but (Vice President, Player Health & Development) Joe (Sheehan) and his staff did everything to protocol to make sure that there was no damage done after the fact.”


On how Thomas was injured:

“He kind of just got caught on the side of his shoulder it looked like. That is what it looked like right now. I have only seen one version of it. This is a pretty quick turnaround that you guys are making me do.”


On QB Baker Mayfield’s improvements on picking up blitz looks in Year 2:

“From the standpoint of a progression with a quarterback, if you see a blitz coming, there are a couple of things that you can do. You can fix the problem or you can react to the problem. Giving him the ability or letting him continue to grow in the fact that he can do either one of them and know what reaction comes off of that is the key. Yeah, I definitely see improvement, and I expect to see improvement tomorrow over today, and so on. Then before long, he will be pretty good at it.”


On the switch at LT during practice:

“Are you talking about with (T Kendall) Lamm in for a couple of plays? It was just (T) Greg (Robinson) had to redo something with his tape or something on the thumb.”


On if Robinson’s thumb is OK:

“Yeah, everything is fine. It was just the tape job. It was nothing.”


On how much the Browns need ‘a blocking specialist’ in the run game, given recent signings at FB and TE:

“We are always looking for better guys. Anybody that we bring in, we feel like has an opportunity to help us, whether it be the run game or the pass game. That is always important. We are going to run the football, and it is important to have guys that can block.”


On if there is another TE that he has tried to groom in the backfield:

“All of them. It depends. We are going to rep all of them at it and see who comes out of the mix. The more versatile you can be, the better off they are as a player and the better off we are as a team. We will continue to rep a bunch of them.”


On if the Browns would ever consider putting a DL in the backfield:

“I am not giving you all of my secrets now. I told you guys last year about the Wishbone and you did not believe me so why would I tell you now (laughter)? Yeah, we have a package with two defensive linemen back there actually, where they lead and a fullback is carrying the ball. Just kidding. Now he is going to call my bluff if I ended up doing that, right?”


On if Browns players will benefit mentally and physically when practicing somewhere else and going against different opponents:

“Yeah, I think it is always good to see what else is out there. This has been a pretty tough camp for these guys. I think it has been kind of a culture shock, but I think they have embraced it. We have a lot of guys that are willing to pay the price. We understand that now. A lot of guys have bought in to what we are trying to do. Now, it is just a matter of going in and seeing what you got against someone else. Wednesday and Thursday are not going to make or break our season, but it is going to give us a little barometer of where we are at from a physical standpoint. “


On if one of his objectives in training camp was to learn which Browns players were ‘willing to pay the price’:

“Oh, definitely. I said that at the very beginning. Our guys, I think, have embraced that. They have embraced the challenge of keeping the tempo up on a regular basis. At the end of the day, when you get into the season, you are allowed one day a week with pads on. This is the time that you have to build some of that toughness. I think that they have embraced that from the standpoint of they know… This is a tough game played by tough people. Sometimes you have to look inside yourself and make sure that you are tough. Sometimes you have to demonstrate that to realize that you are. I think that they have embraced all that.”


On how LB Mack Wilson is showing he can be a reliable player:

“I think he is getting better. He is not there yet, and I would think he would be the first to tell you he is not there yet. I want him to keep getting better in all areas. He is a good cover guy. That is why is here or one of the reasons he is here. Then I expect him to be able to stop the run, too. At that position, you kind of have to be a jack of all trades, and that is what we want our linebackers doing.”


On specific goals for joint practices in Indianapolis:

“Not in particular. I want to see how we react to going on the road for the first time. It is just simply you are sleeping in a hotel in a different city, you are playing against different people and you are practicing against different people. Just that aspect in itself can go a long way to giving you practice when we travel. We travel the second game of the year. Everything surrounding it, I do not have any problem with the competition. I think the competition is going to be there. If it is not, we have some of the wrong people. What I am looking forward to is how do we respond to distractions. You guys have built several distractions. Do not take offense, goodness (laughter). You understand what I am saying. Everybody wants to talk about distractions and expectations. Well hell, let’s see how we do under some distractions.”

On if he is concerned about potential fights during joint practices with the Colts:
“You saw what happened last time. It does not matter to me. Whatever they want to do. We do not practice penalties so if we start practicing penalties, there are consequences.”


On practicing offensive goal-line situations and how difficult it is to score against a loaded box:

“It is like fitting two people in a phone booth and seeing who comes out. Sometimes, you can’t even open the door. If you and me were in there, you would not be able to open the door (laughter). It is tough. The space gets diminished. Throwing the ball is harder because you only have to cover 11 yards instead of whatever else distance you have. It is definitely hard.”


On if he wanted to see what TE Rico Gather could do on the goal line:

“I wanted to see what the new guy could do. I wanted to see what the O-line could do. I wanted to see what our defensive line and linebackers could do and what our tight ends could do. Everybody is involved. Some of it falls on the quarterback and running back and whoever had the ball in their hand. Sometimes, I like to see spots I could run the ball through. You are supposed to laugh at that one.”


On having full pads in practice more often than other teams:

“Yeah, I have seen other coaches do it that I have worked under, but I do not think there is any other way. To me, it is a no-brainer. The game is played in pads so it is my job to make sure those guys are ready to play the game so it is my job to understand when we need to take the pads off and get them ready to play the game. I think they were ready to play last week. They will be ready to play this week. I will have them ready to practice against these guys on Wednesday. The game is played in pads. We are going to be physically and mentally tough.”


On if he has received complaints from a Browns players leadership council about the padded practices:
“I do not have a leadership council. I have me, and that is it. I do not get into that stuff either. That is all a façade for excuses to blame other people. I will take the blame.”

On expectations for the starting Browns OL, understanding RG is still a competition:

“Anytime you are dealing with a group – whether it is a group of receivers, a group of offensive linemen, a group of defensive linemen – you are always looking for consistency within that group. I think we are continuing to work on that, but we will have three or four weeks left. I think they are doing a good job right now of just trying to get better every day, and that is the only thing I am asking is just for them to get better every day.”


On areas for LB Sione Takitaki to improve:
“I want him to keep his emotions in check, and I do not want to diminish who he is. Sometimes he gets in situations where he creates penalties for himself because of his emotion. I want to eliminate that first and foremost. Secondly, I just want him to play him. He is an aggressive, physical guy and that is what we are looking for. I want him to continue with his eyes. A lot of times linebackers, negative or positive, can be directly correlated with their eyes, a lot like a quarterback. I want him to continue to see what he sees.”


On Takitaki balancing his emotions and energy with not creating penalties:
“It is simple. When the whistle blows, you stop. That is it.”


On the Browns potentially only having one padded practice left for training camp when returning from joint practices, if there is a limit:

“No, I do not think so. I hope not because we are breaking that rule (laughter). That was not a joke.”


On if the Browns have accomplished what was needed to establish toughness:

“I think these guys have embraced [it]. They will not tell you that it is easy, but they have embraced the work, they have embraced the physical nature. Those guys have been through games. They have been through a season, most of them have, and they know what it takes. I do not want them worried about the pads. I want them knowing that the football game is played with pads on. I told them at the beginning that the light that they see as a train. It is not at the end of the tunnel. That is what I want them focused on is today. That is it. I think they have done an excellent job embracing the challenge of that.”


On S Sheldrick Redwine saying the first preseason game was not as fast as he expected, and if the Browns practices contribute to that:
“I think the goal of any training camp is to build toughness and to build a relentless nature in your players. They have to embrace those things, and I think they have. Also, the more life-like or real that you can make it, of course, it can’t do anything other than make the games at least the same. Now, depending on who you are playing or the person you are playing, it could be different. Everything we do, we do for a reason and we try to simulate something.”


On if the Browns would consider not having a FB on the roster:

“Yes, we could. Definitely.”


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