HC Kevin Stefanski (1.15.21)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“You guys have the injury report – listing four guys as questionable.

“Looking forward to the challenge, and it is going to be a challenge. A really good football team, the Super Bowl champs. A really good coaching staff as we have talked about. It is going to be a battle. We had a good week of practice.”

On how critical it is to get off to a fast start this week, particularly given the Chiefs offense’s ability: 

“It is easier said than done. I promise you every coach goes into every game saying, ‘We have to start fast.’ Sometimes you do, and sometimes you do not. Is it critical? It is always critical.”

On if any Browns assistant coaches returned today who were previously not in the building due to COVID-19 protocols: 

“Yes, we had (pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach) Jeff Howard and (tight ends coach) Drew Petzing back today.”

On if assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters is the only Browns coach or player who has not yet returned to the building due to COVID-19 protocols: 

“Yes.”

On the significance of G Joel Bitonio returning and Bitonio’s opportunity to play in a postseason game: 

“I think it is a big deal. Getting a good player back. He is excited to be back as you can imagine. Looks good.”

On how encouraging it is that T Jack Conklin practiced today on a limited basis: 

“Similarly, he has been a good player for us. We will see how the next few hours go with all of those guys. Obviously, you want to go into the game with the full complement of your players. We will see how it shakes out.”

On if it feels good to have nearly all of the Browns players and coaches back with the team after several were missing in recent weeks due to COVID-19 protocols: 

“Yeah, it does. First and foremost, you concern yourself with everybody’s health and well-being. Anytime somebody is back in the building, it means that they are healthy enough to be back in the building. Obviously, want to get everybody back here as quickly as possible but as safe as possible.”

On if he feels that this game could come down to the last possession, given the Chiefs have played in several close games in recent weeks: 

“We go into every game – similarly, I am sure they do – and we are just trying to win it any which way you can. If it is by one point, that is great, and if it is by a bunch of points, that is great, too. We want to see how this game unfolds, but both teams are looking to do anything it takes to get that win.”

On if there will be any unique travel plans to Kansas City like last week’s trip to Pittsburgh or if it will occur as it normally has this season: 

“Normal.”

On how Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry has been this season: 

“He has been great. Andrew and his staff have done an outstanding job. Talk about the guys that continue to make plays for us on Sundays and guys that were not with us back in training camp – late adds, as we call them – him and his staff really have done a great job in identifying those guys. Andrew does a great job leading this organization.”

On why DE Myles Garrett was chosen as one of the playoff captains: 

“He has provided great leadership throughout this season. He is a player who shows up and gives us everything he has. He plays hard through the whistle. He plays hard for the entire 60 minutes or more. That is a great message for our players.”

On sharing QB Case Keenum mentioned a prank and leaving something in his office and if he found what Keenum placed in it: 

“No, I have not figured out what Case left in there.”

On if there is anything benefit that Conklin plays OL and the position requires more choppy steps rather than long strides as it relates to Conklin’s hamstring injury: 

“With any injury, they are all different. Certainly, when you talk about positionally, some players take full strides to your point, but I think you deal with each injury individually. We will see how he responds over the next 48 hours.”

On if he spends a lot of time during the week thinking about how a game may play out as it relates to it being a high or low-scoring contest: 

“I do. I will tell you, sometimes I am right and sometimes I am wrong. You prepare for one game and you have to be ready early in that first quarter to be in another. We talk as a coaching staff how we might see it going, and we are prepared for that, but you better be ready to pivot.”

On how often he is right about how a game will play out from a high or low scoring standpoint: 

“I do not know, truly. These games are a one-game season so once that game is done, I am kind of all in on this one.”

On how excited he is for his first postseason game as a head coach, given he was not able to be on the sideline last week: 

“I am just excited for our team to have another opportunity to compete. That is what these guys want to do, and that is why it is so important in these playoffs. It is win or go home, and you want to just want to keep winning so you get another opportunity to compete. I am excited to be with the guys on Sunday and compete with them.”

On the team’s mood during practice this week and how the team has responded: 

“I feel like it has been a really good week of practice. It has been crisp. There is energy out there. Guys understanding the gameplan and understanding their jobs. It was a really good week of practice and moving around. I thought we needed it. Again, the guys worked very hard.”

On if the team looked better in the padded practice and during this practice week after an odd schedule in past weeks: 

“No, I think they have gotten into the routine of how we operate around here. They know what to expect. Probably the strange part was that they had three straight days of practice – that is unique (laughter). They are ready whatever it looks like. If you practice one day, two days, three days or zero days, they are ready to go.”

On Chiefs DT Chris Jones and how much the Browns have talked about Jones this week in their preparation for Sunday:         

“We have talked a lot about him. He is a great player. We played against him last year when I was with the Vikings. I saw firsthand how just physically imposing he can be. He plays really hard. He is a tough matchup for anybody. Whether you are double-teaming him or single blocking, you are in for a long day because he is just a really good player. The guys understand that, and I think they are looking forward to the challenge.”

On what he likes about Browns players’ heart, scrappiness and desire: 

“Scrappy is a good word, and I will steal it. These guys have shown this season that they are willing to fight and compete, and that is what January football calls for. We have a great challenge this week again versus a great football team with a bunch of great players and great coaches. We are going have to fight, and they understand that.”

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