HC Kevin Stefanski (12.17.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

On NY Giants TEs coach Freddie Kitchen being assigned play calling duties this weekend after the team announced NY Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett would be unavailable on Sunday night: 

“First of all, I hope Coach Garrett is feeling OK. I do not think it changes much. They have an offensive philosophy that they believe in. They have a system. We have plenty of games worth of what that system looks like. I do not think it changes much, regardless of who is calling plays on Sunday night.”

On if teams have been defending the Browns differently since QB Baker Mayfield has been rolling out of the pocket more frequently: 

“I do not know if he has been doing more frequently, but I that is part of the key to our offenses is the marriage of the run in the pass. If you look at (RB) Nick (Chubb)’s first touchdown run there in the game the other night, the defensive end is playing Baker Mayfield. That is important because in the run game, Baker owns those defensive ends so that is where the two play off of each other.”

 

On if the Browns will look back on Kitchens’ past play calling film from last season, particularly due to Kitchens’ proclivity to call trick plays or use unique formations:

“I do not expect them to reinstall an offense, and really, Coach Garrett may still be heavily involved in every single one of their meetings. He just won’t be there Sunday night potentially. I do not think we should look into that too much in that regard. Again, they have established an identity of who they are. We have plenty of tape to go off.”

On if the Browns players who returned to practice yesterday will be back at practice today, including CB Denzel Hooper, WR KhaDarel Hodge, TE Austin Hooper and T Jedrick Wills Jr.: 

“Yes. All looked pretty good to me.”

 

On G Wyatt Teller’s status: 

“No update today, other than he is not going to practice. He is progressing. We will see where he is through the day.”

On the impact of Ward potentially returning this week: 

“Denzel is obviously a good player. He has given us a ton of productive reps this year. He has made big time plays in key moments in these ballgames. If we are able to get him back out there, I do think it gives us boost.”

 

On if the Browns have eased back practices on Wednesday and Thursday and taken it easier on the players physically following the Monday night game: 

“I just think you need to be mindful of the calendar and understand when the bye week was, the games we have been playing, the short week and all of those things. Just take everything into account and put together a plan where we can remain sharp while also being fresh.”

On if there is a rookie wall for rookie head coaches: 

“I do not know. I guess I have not seen it yet. I do not know if that answers your question.”

 

On Mayfield’s comment that WR Donovan Peoples-Jones’ trip to Austin was really beneficial and how impressive it is for Peoples-Jones to not be overmatched in big situations like on Monday night: 

“He played at a big time football program and he played in the Big Ten so he has played a bunch of big games so that does not surprise me. In terms of going down to Austin, I just think the rapport with the quarterback can only help when you are gaining extra reps for a young player who came into this with zero reps with him. I think all of it helps.”

 

On LB Sione Takitaki’s growth this season: 

“He is a very physical player in our base packages. Really, it is dependent on the other team a lot of times in how much he plays. When you go up against teams that are playing in bigger personnel – 21, 22, 13 – that is a game where Taki is really going to provide great value for us, and he has done that. He has been great on special teams, too. He brings energy to the practice field. I am really pleased with what Taki is doing.”

On revisiting old news about his emotions when Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur wanted to interview him for the NY Giants offensive coordinator job but the Vikings did not approve the request: 

“Like you said, old news.”

 

On how RB Kareem Hunt’s versatility and ability to catch the ball has helped mitigate some of the losses and shuffling at the WR position: 

“Versatility is the key word there with a lot of our players, and Kareem definitely is that. We ask him to do multiple things. We line him up in different spots. You have to No. 1 know your job and you have to detail your work. When he can run routes like he does and catch the ball like he does, I just think it gives us a lot of options there. You can also just leave him at running back and hand him the ball, and he is outstanding at that, too. Again, versatility is the key with Kareem.”

On how he has been able to help draw the best out of Mayfield: 

“Baker has drawn the best out of Baker. All of our guys are self-starters. They do a nice job with their work week, and Baker fits in that category. Again, I go back to his work ethic and how he prepares is something that gives me great confidence.”

 

On Mayfield saying he would reach out to WR Odell Beckham Jr., knowing how much this week would mean to Beckham, and his communications with Beckham during rehab: 

“I stay in touch with him via text. Again, disappointed that he is not with us right now. Like you mentioned, I am sure the competitor that he is he would love to play in a game like this, but he is doing well on his rehab. Obviously, I wish him all the luck in that. Definitely keeping in touch with him via text.”

 

On DE Olivier Vernon’s recent strong performance and its impact to help complement and take pressure off of DE Myles Garrett: 

“OV has had some really good moments for us. He stepped up when Myles was out, which we really needed. He has given us some great reps. He is a physical player. He is very, very intelligent. We put a lot on his plate, and he is able to execute it just because he is a savvy player.”

On if he knows Kitchens well: 

“I do not.”

On Kitchens as a play caller and if he has studied Kitchens’ past film as a play caller with the Browns: 

“I think it would be unfair for me to comment on that. Again, he is a very good football coach. As it pertains to this week, I think it is going to be the Giants offense, and I think he will be running the scheme that they have been showing all year.”

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