HC Kevin Stefanski (1.8.21)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“Injury front wise, (WR) Donovan Peoples-Jones will be back out there today having cleared the (concussion) protocols. We will not have (T) Jack Conklin out there due to illness and (CB) Terrence Mitchell – not injury related.

 

“On the COVID front, getting (S Andrew) Sendejo and (LB) B.J. Goodson back, as well as (S) Elijah Benton on the practice squad. Coach-wise, (pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach) Chad O’Shea will be back out there today. For the game, similar to last week, (coaching assistant) Ryan Cordell will handle the offensive line, (Chief of Staff) Callie Brownson will handle the tight ends and (assistant defensive backs coach) Brandon Lynch will handle the defensive backs. As you know, (special teams coordinator) Coach (Mike) Priefer will handle the head coaching duties.

 

“Worked hard with the league office, (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and (Senior Vice President of Player Health and Development) Joe Sheehan in making sure we could get out there safely today. After some discussion, it was agreed upon to get out there and get some work in, but again, safety being the No. 1 priority. That is what is going on right now. Over at the facility, they will have a walkthrough into practice and then get some good work in ahead of this game on Sunday.”

 

On the format of today’s practice, given missed time earlier this week: 

“Similar to last week where we got out on the field briefly Wednesday, nothing on Thursday and then really we had a Friday-plus so that is kind of how we will treat today. We will have a Friday practice, add a couple periods and added a walkthrough. We have spent a lot of time on Zoom so had a lot of virtual work, and now, we will be able to get some physical work out there today.”

 

On if there is a sense of relief to be able to practice today: 

“Yeah, I think the players and the coaches always like to be out on the grass with the guys. That is much better than being on these Zoom calls. I think they are excited to get out there.”

 

On if DE Myles Garrett and DT Sheldon Richardson are expected to play on Sunday: 

“I am confident about those two guys. Without us putting our eyes on some of these guys, that is kind of where we have to get through this practice and see them, but those two in particular, I am confident about.”

 

On the team’s travel plans: 

“We are going to leave Saturday. We are going to fly.

 

On if Conklin not practicing today with an illness raises a bit of a concern and how COVID-19 protocols impact Conklin’s status: 

“We will just follow the protocols. You are right, in this day and age you have an illness, and you have to be safe with that, but we will just make sure we follow the protocols.”

 

On if Conklin’s situation is similar to what WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Garrett experienced earlier in the season: 

“I can’t speak to that, no.”

 

On Conklin and Garrett being named Associated Press First-Team All-Pros: 

“It is outstanding. Like we talk about, I always want our guys to get individual accolades. I think it speaks ultimately to the team, but I am proud of those guys. I think they are more than deserving so that is always something that I am looking forward to all of those guys being recognized because it is important. Those two in particular I think would tell you it is definitely within the framework of the team’s success.”

 

On what the biggest challenge will be for Priefer in terms of the gameday situations: 

“Our staff for the entire season has done a great job of communicating. Offense, defense and special teams, that sideline, I pride myself and we pride ourselves on being able to think and communicate clearly. I do not that changing at all. Coach Prief understands what needs to occur and things that have to happen on gameday, and that is really the entire coaching staff understanding how we operate and how we communicate does not change.”

 

On if Saturday will be a normal walkthrough and travel day, given changes to the practice schedule this week: 

“Very similar to last week. We might add a few walkthrough-type things but really will be a Saturday that the guys are familiar with.”

 

On if there is an update on any players or coaches who missed last week’s game due to COVID-19 protocols: 

“I do not have any updates on those guys.”

 

On when will be the last time he can talk to the team before Sunday’s game and if he can talk to the team in the locker room on Sunday: 

“I will address the team the night before the game like I normally do. Once it is game time and in that locker room, Coach Priefer will be serving that role. I have a ton of faith in him. The guys know the message. They do not need a Zoom call from me before the game to understand what they need to do.”

 

On if he has a sense for if Mitchell will be able to play on Sunday: 

“I do not have a sense, no.”

 

On the uncertainty at the CB position with Mitchell being listed as questionable and Ward and CB Kevin Johnson on the reserve/COVID-19 list: 

“Uncertainty has been the name of the game. We have plans, and we will adjust as need be.”

 

On if anyone on the reserve/COVID-19 list can be ruled out for Sunday: 

“I will just let the protocols be what they are. When you are on the list, you are on. When you are off, you are off.”

 

On if he will watch practice today live virtually:

“Yeah, there is a chance I will live watch it over Zoom, but I will not be radioing in any corrections. We will make the corrections on Saturday morning.”

 

On why the team is flying to Pittsburgh compared to the usual bus drive:

“I would just tell you any of those type of decisions lean heavily on the medical staff and experts.”

 

On if the decision to fly is COVID-19 related:

“Yeah.”

 

On his coaching philosophy to always include his assistants and players, given C JC Tretter’s comments that he frequently talks to the Browns OL about running schemes and plays that they like:

“The players have a pretty good sense on what is working. They have a front row seat so I try to lean on them as to what schemes they think have a chance. Anytime you can get input from guys like JC and all of the veteran guys who you trust, you can get a feel for what is working and what is not. There are certain blocking schemes that puts stress on certain guys, and if they have a good feel for what maybe will work or will not, I think that is important for our play calling.”

 

On if it is fair to say that Sunday will feel like ‘dropping his kids off at college,’ given offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt’s comments earlier in the week:

“I have never sent them off to college, but I also have never watched my team play from my basement. I can probably answer that better next week. I do think I have tried to make the point and I think the players and I know the coaches understand this, we have established who we are over the course of the season so the guys know that. They do not need me to remind them about any of that at this point.”

 

On how QB Baker Mayfield handled this week without practice thus far:

“He is locked in. Through these virtual meetings, he has done a great job. He always does on our calls. He fully understands the gameplan and understands the opponent. He is somebody who I have been very impressed to watch him work and watch him prepare. Obviously, different when you are talking about the virtual aspect of it, but I think it will be beneficial for him and all of the guys to get moving around today and get some of these wrinkles to this gameplan to get them physically worked through.”

 

On what a virtual walkthrough is like:

“It is nothing more than putting the cards up for practice. Taking the scout team card and put it on the screen. Alright, here is the look that you are getting. Offensive line talk through your call. Look at the coverage. What are maybe some of your adjustments that you are going to make on this route wide receiver? Alright, quarterback chime in. What is your read? Those type of things. It sounds cooler than it is.”

 

On Priefer and Van Pelt stating they would plan to channel him and the balance of doing that versus what they may naturally feel is best:

“I have talked to those guys and we will continue to talk over the next 48 hours. We have had 16 games to kind of establish the way we do things. This entire coaching staff has been a huge part of that and the way we operate, the way we call the game and those types of things. I do not see there being a huge deviation to what we have done the last 16 games because it is truly a collaborative group effort.”

 

On if he has an idea of what Sunday will be like for him:

“Once you get to gameday, those are long days waiting for those games to start. I am sure there will be some phone calls here or there, but by and large, a lot of the work is done. We will have a walkthrough Sunday morning at some point with offense and defense for each one to go over some of the finer points. Again, I can’t stress enough how much I trust the coaches we have and the players to do their jobs. It is not going to be me inserting myself into the gameplan on Sunday.”

 

On the decision for Cordell to coach the Browns OL this week:

“Ryan has been working with the offensive line since the spring, working closely with (offensive line coach) Bill (Callahan) and (assistant offensive line coach) Scott (Peters) so he knows how we operate. He does a lot of the run drawings. As somebody who has done run drawing in my past, that is one way to really understand the run game. He has worked in different schemes before so he knows what he is talking about and I think he has a good rapport with that offensive line.”

 

On the importance of having individuals like Cordell and Brownson who are versatile when building a coaching staff:

“I have said it before, you need utility players in a season like this, and that is where I am happy to have people like Ryan and Callie to step in in these moments.”

 

On G Michael Dunn and how important it is for Dunn to practice given he has not previously lined up with the first team:

“I think that is the benefit of getting on the field today is for players to get into different spots and have some of those communication things going on. Michael is like a lot of players, we may be counting on him Sunday so we trust in their preparation. He is somebody who is always on point in what we are doing, gives a great look and can fill in at multiple spots on the offensive line so versatility is key in a season like this.”

 

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