HC Kevin Stefanski (1.1.21)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“First, I would like to say that I appreciate (NFL Chief Medical Officer) Dr. (Allen) Sills, (NFL Senior Labor Relations Counsel) Meghan Carroll and (NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer) Dawn Aponte for working closely with us and with (Senior Vice President of Player Health and Development) Josh Sheehan with (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry the last few days and making sure that we are keeping our players safe and our staff safe. That has been a really positive working relationship and I appreciate that, and I appreciate that we were able to get in here today and get some work done.

“You have the injury report. Other things of note, (pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach) Chad O’Shea will not be able to coach in the game this weekend so (Chief of Staff) Callie Brownson will fill in, similarly to how we did that down in Jacksonville. We will not miss a beat there.

“I do not normally announce captains, but I am going to have (DE) Myles Garrett be the captain this weekend. I do not want that to be misconstrued. It is a big game so I am sending the big guy out there, but it is in no way a call back to anything previously so I just wanted to make sure that is clear.”

On naming Garrett the game captain this week: 

“Just every week kind of look at who has done it and who has not been one yet. Again, it is a big game so might as well send Myles out there.”

On if the Browns have accomplished everything he hoped during the week despite the limited time and schedule changes: 

“I think we are where we need to be from a preparation standpoint. Again, we have not missed a beat in the Zoom meetings and the mental aspect of this. We got our work done Wednesday. We got some extra work done today. I am comfortable with where we are.”

On if Saturday’s walkthrough will look different for the team due to schedule changes this week: 

“Maybe a little bit but not a wholesale change. We may add some time to our walkthrough, but we will not have a practice tomorrow.”

On how Browns WRs who returned from reserve/COVID-19 yesterday looked in practice, as well as LB Jacob Phillips: 

“Everybody looks good to me. Got extra work in between periods and the quarterbacks and receivers would throw. I am very comfortable where those guys are, and Jacob just the same.”

On how he feels about G Wyatt Teller, LBs Sione Takitaki and Tae Davis for Sunday: 

“I feel good about them. They have had good weeks.”

On if he is concerned about the depth on the OL with C Nick Harris ruled out and T Kendall Lamm questionable: 

“We will work through it. We have plans. We will see who is available to us, but that is the nature of this.”

On how QB Baker Mayfield has looked this week, given offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said Mayfield had a ‘perfect’ practice on Wednesday: 

“He is locked in. I can’t speak to what AVP was saying necessarily, but I agree that he is locked in, I agree that he is on top of this gameplan and had a good day today. He is ready to go.”

On gauging the team’s readiness for Sunday: 

“I gauge it through their preparation. They got their work done. Sometimes it was unique how we had to get it done, but I saw them putting in extra work Wednesday, virtual on Thursday and then they are getting extra work right now. I am comfortable with the preparation.”

On there was any consideration to creating ‘its own bubble in the team hotel’ this week: 

“It never came up. I was not a part of that consideration, no.”

On if it is a good thing that there has not been as much of a focus on the significance this week’s game due to the focus on COVID-19 protocols this week and if anyone in the building is feeling the enormity of the moment, given the Browns have not reached the playoffs in 18 years: 

“Honestly, I do not get that sense from my team – certainly, not from me or the coaches. We understand the task at hand. We understand this is a win-and-you-are-in game. We get that. I think the guys are certainly excited about the opportunity, but we really try to ignore the noise as much as possible.”

On why the Browns players and coaches do not have to ‘carry the weight of the 18-year playoff drought,’ given the organization and fans do: 

“I just think we focus on the job and focus on what we have to do. I have said this before, I get fandom. I get it. I love our fans and I want them to be excited about this, but it is really my job to get this team ready to play, and that includes really ignoring the noise.”

On the Browns WRs experience this past week and how Brownson will handle the opportunity to coach the WRs: 

“Those guys are all in a good place. They all came back here ready to work today. They get some of these things that have been going on. It is just a unique year. They get that. Obviously, we do not want to be without Chad. Chad is an extremely important part of this operation. Having Callie here – I have said it before – it is nice to have utility players – I almost said this year – in the past two years. It is important to have them, and Callie is one of those people who can step into a dual role for us and run the personnel and the substitutions on gameday and work with the coaches. Yeah, I think that is important.”

On if Garrett looked healthier against the NY Jets: 

“I thought he looked good to me. He had a game-changing play there if it goes the other way. He made a great play. He is right there. He is healthy. He is working through it.”

On if Garrett is more determined than ever this week to get the Browns to the playoffs: 

“The whole team is determined. Again, we are well aware of what is at stake here. Myles has been a great leader for this team. He does it in his actions, and he does it with his words. He is just an important part of what we are trying to get done, and he understands that I am counting on him.”

On CB Denzel Ward being placed on reserve/COVID-19 late afternoon yesterday and how and when he addressed that with the team: 

“Once that news came across, it was clear that we were not going to get in the building, I had a team meeting yesterday afternoon – very brief, just let the guys know what was going on and why we were not back in the building. My message to them is we are just going to deal with what is in front of us. That has really just been our mindset this season.”

On how disappointed he is for Ward to miss this game after recovering from the calf injury and if there is a silver lining knowing the team has played without Ward before this season: 

“I am disappointed anytime we are without any player for really any reason – injury, illness or otherwise. Wish we had him out there, but I have a ton of faith in the guys who we are going to put out there. Like you mentioned, he was out recently so we know we can win with our guys because I have seen it.”

On if K Cody Parkey has bounced back from last week’s game and if Parkey will practice at the stadium: 

“Cody is a veteran. I trust in his preparation. I trust he will get all of the work he needs to get done to be ready for Sunday.”

On LBs B.J. Goodson and Malcolm Smith being out as the team’s top nickel LBs: 

“I go back to we have played a lot of guys this season and in a lot of different roles. They all know those roles. Whether they were getting the reps in the games or not, they are ready at a moment’s notice to go in there. (Linebackers coach) Jason Tarver does a great job with those guys, and they will be ready to go.”

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