HC Kevin Stefanski (12.2.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement: 

“On the injury front, I know you guys saw we put (S) Ronnie Harrison (Jr.) on IR. I am hopeful that he can make it back. (CB) Denzel (Ward) will really be the only guy not at practice today. I do not have an update yet on (DE) Joe Jackson, (DE) Porter Gustin and (LB Sione) Takitaki.

“As you know with this morning, we closed the building after a staff member had a positive test. We are always going to be careful and cautious when it comes to safety and health of our organization, our players, our coaches and our staff. With that, we did the close contact tracing with the league and feel comfortable that the building can open back up. As you can see, I am in my office. We are going to bring the players in this afternoon. All we really had to do was move practice back a bit. It will not be a split-squat practice or anything like that. We will get our normal work done in, just a little bit later. Really, we have been virtual with the players for a while now so it really was not that disruptive of our morning. That is kind of what the guys are used to.

“Have a big one this week versus Tennessee, a good football team. They are extremely well-coached. They do a great job really on all three sides of the ball. On offense, (Titans offensive) Arthur Smith does a great job with that attack, and they have a great running back and they have really a great complement of receivers, tight ends and backs. The quarterback is playing at a high level. They are physical up front. Defensively, the scheme is outstanding. They play multiple fronts and multiple coverages. They disguise. They really keep you on your toes. They do an outstanding job. It is a really, really good special teams unit – multiple challenges for us on that side. Ultimately, they are plus-11 in the turnover margin so they do a great job of taking care of the ball. I think they have the fewest giveaways in the NFL. I know defensively, they are very much trying to get the ball out, they are stripping and they are getting their hands on balls. They do a great job. Going to be a big challenge going down there to Tennessee trying to find a way to win.”

On the Browns being without Harrison: 

“Ronnie was doing a nice job so I am disappointed for him. It happened on the first play of the game. I felt bad for Ronnie, especially playing against his former team. He has given us a bunch of good reps. He has impacted the game. He has made big plays. Without him, somebody is going to have to step up and make those plays, and we are confident in the guys we have.”

On the mindset needed when facing a player like Titans RB Derrick Henry: 

“You have to tackle. You have to have 11 hats around the ball. He is outstanding. He is physical. He is fast. He is just an outstanding running back. Everybody knows that. You watch the tape. It is a big challenge. You have to be sound and disciplined in your run fits, and you have to gang tackle.”

On the Browns will practice in pads at least one day this week to prepare for Henry: 

“We do just because it is every week these things are battles, but the players understand the physical affair that it is going to be on Sunday.”

On the Browns’ 8-3 record and potentially using playoff possibilities as a motivator for upcoming games: 

“We really do treat these as one-game seasons. I think that is really the only way you can. You have to pour all of your energies into that specific game that week. I think our players believe in that. I know I believe in that because I just think so much of what we do on a daily basis today Wednesday, tomorrow Thursday, it is so important that we have a great week of practice. To put our focus anywhere else would take away from our preparation.”

On if he has to remind himself to ‘block out the outside noise and not get a big head’ because how the season is going: 

“Not a problem. I have a big task at hand this week, a really good football team that we have to play and go to their place. I have a lot on my plate, and I do not really concern myself with any outside noise.”

On how RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt can help the Browns defense prepare for Henry: 

“You face each other in training camp, and you have physical matchups in training camp, whether you are going live or not. Those are big bodies banging against each other at training camp. I think the guys understand what is going to be required this week, but to say that we are going to put Nick or Kareem in there on scout team looks is probably not true.”

On if he has talked to DE Myles Garrett and been able to gauge how Garrett is doing: 

“I have not really spoken to him at length about it. I know how he is feeling, but I will see him today and talk to him. Like you said, I have to put my eyes on him and I have to see him out at practice before we make any determinations.”

On what he could have done differently in the short-yardage situations against the Jaguars: 

“Whenever you fall short in critical moments like that, you do want to pull it apart. I spent some time with the offensive staff the last couple of days talking through that and really pulling it apart. We are not far removed from our bye-week self-scout where we have already done that. We kind of did it again based on the last few games we have played. The answer is always complicated in that some of it is scheme related and some of it was you got unlucky with a look you were hoping for. We are just going to double down on making sure we put the guys in position to succeed, and that scheme may vary week to week.”

On the main key to slowing down Henry: 

“I really believe it is having 11 guys on defense at the ball. It is not one person’s job to try to stop Derrick Henry. He is too good of a player. We have to take it upon ourselves as a defense to make sure we are gap sound and deliberate about our run fits, and then we have to get multiple people around the ball.”

On the importance of making passes look like runs and vice versa in the Browns offensive scheme and the stress that puts on opposing defenses: 

“In order to do it well, it takes 11 guys and there is nuance to it. The team we are playing this week does a very good job of making the run look like the pass and vice versa. There are always different things that that we give to the players as coaching points on all those play actions. Whether it is a keeper, a run action or whatever it may be, there is nuance to it. We just spend a lot of time drilling it into them both within the meetings and then on the practice field.”

On if the Browns’ contact tracing is done for the day and resulted in no high-risk close contacts:

“I can’t go as far as to say that, other than I will tell you it is safe to open the building.”

On when DE Jamal Davis and S Tedric Thompson will be able to join the team:

“We will see how it shakes out. They are kind of in two different boats, if you will, from a testing protocol standpoint. I think we will get Davis before we get Thompson in the rhythm of how this plays out. At this point, as you have seen in the last couple of weeks, you have to make sure that depth is a huge part of roster building.”

On if Davis will available and practicing today:

“I am not positive about that. I think he is, but do not quote me on that, literally.”

On Davis, who is from Northeast Ohio:

“He is a Canton kid, highway of Akron. Our personnel department is always looking for guys that can help us. He fits the bill. All of the personal stuff checks out. Being a local kid never hurts.”

On QB Baker Mayfield not having turnovers in consecutive games:

“It is a big deal. It is going to be a big deal this week again versus a team that is plus-11. You have to always as a quarterback straddle that fine line of being aggressive and smart. He has done a nice job the last few weeks. Even in that last game, he threw some tight window balls that had to be perfect, and they were. He is doing a nice job in that regard.”

On if Mayfield’s lower turnover rate is due to maturity, developing his capabilities or knowledge of the offense:

“He is doing a nice job in the meeting room and on the practice field, and that carries over to the games. (Offensive coordinator) Alex Van Pelt does a great job with all of the quarterbacks and stressing the importance of that rock.”

On the differences in styles and skillsets between Chubb and Henry:

“Two great players. Derrick Henry has a very unique size for a running back. He is just tall, obviously strong and has a breakaway speed, as you see. Nick comes in a different package, if you will, but is as strong in his own right and also has that breakaway speed. They are two great players, two great players of the NFL highlights obviously is important, but we know it is not a matchup between those two guys. At the end of the day, it is a matchup between the Titans and the Browns.”

On how ‘chess match elements of a game’ impact him when facing a coach like Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel, who has taken advantage of officiating rules during his career: 

“He does an outstanding job. I know a few of their coaches. They are really, really well-coached. They do a great job. He coaches within the rules. We try to do the same.”

On Titans QB Ryan Tannehill and Tannehill protecting the football :

“Taking care of the ball. Four interceptions at this point in the season is really something impressive by him. He does a great job in their scheme. He makes plays off of their run actions and their keepers. He is really efficient on third down and in the red zone. A very athletic player. Can really make plays with his feet. He does a great job.”

On if he noticed a common factor in some of Mayfield’s missed throws last week:

“No, I did not. What AVP does and what I will do with the quarterback is… I should say this, what you do not do is you do not say, “Hey, make that throw.’ You try to give them something to sink their teeth into from a technique standpoint. We will work with him and mention some things that he can do in those scenarios, but I have seen Baker make unbelievable throws at practice. I have seen him make the hard ones and make the easy ones. We will just continue to coach him like we do with all of our guys.”

On if the missed throws are not a concern him because it just simply that:

“Yeah, correct.”

On Harrison’s timeframe to potentially return and what happened to Harrison’s shoulder:

“It is multiple weeks, but I do not have the timeframe specific right in front of me. I do not know exactly the specifics of what happened to the shoulder, other than to tell you I do not believe there was any fracture of any sort.”

On if Harrison’s shoulder will heal on its own without a procedure needed:


On if S Karl Joseph’s will fill Harrison’s role at SS:

“We will work through that in the next couple of days in terms of the rotation, but I have a ton of a confidence in really all those guys. I really do.”

On how similar the Titans offensive system is to the Browns offensive system and if that makes it easier for the Browns defense when preparing this week:

“It is similar. Arthur Smith does a really, really good job with that group. It might help our scout team offense give a good look to our defense because it will be some similar concepts in the run and the pass, but ultimately, you just tip your cap to those guys. They do a very good job with their offense. I really do think in total schematically, they do a nice job really offense, defense and special teams. We are going to have to have a great week of preparation, and part of that, like you are talking about, is giving a great look from our scout teams to the starters.”

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