HC Kevin Stefanski (8.30.21)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement:

“I know everyone is eagerly awaiting some of the roster moves. We are still working through it. I could see us making some moves today. As you know, we have to have the rest of them done by tomorrow at 4 p.m.”


On WR KhaDarel Hodge and if the Browns are having to make tough roster decisions at WR:

“They are all tough decisions. You look across the roster, and I think the guys have been competing all of the way back to when we first got together in the spring. That is the great part of this job is they get to compete against each other and then compete against another team. Specifically to KhaDarel, obviously made a nice play there in the end zone or just prior to the end zone. All of those guys, they are continuing to battle, which you love to see.”


On the communication process between the coaching staff and Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry regarding roster decisions:

“I think there are really productive conversations that have been going on really throughout training camp. We have kind of met weekly, taken the pulse of different people and talked through things. Andrew, ultimately, he makes the decisions. He has a lot to consider in those decisions, but I think he does a great job of listening to make sure he can make some informed decisions.”


On how important it is that the Browns coaches feel like they are listened to when roster decisions are being made:

“I think it is like anything else in any business, you want to believe you have a voice in this, and our coaches do. They spend every waking minute with the players in these meeting rooms and out on the field so the coaches have great insight into the players. Like I mentioned, though, the coaches also understand that it is Andrew’s decision. I think he takes in all of the information and will make the decision that is right for the Cleveland Browns.”


On how much the Browns consider the trade market when making roster decisions this week, especially given some of the players the team could potentially release may be of interest to other NFL teams:

“Andrew and his staff do a great job of working the roster for 365 days. They are constantly looking at was to upgrade, whether it is via trade or otherwise. It is all a part of it. I told the team last night, I would love to keep everybody. I wish they relaxed those rules and we could keep everybody, but that is not the nature of this beast.”


On DT Malik McDowell:

“Real excited for what Malik was able to do this preseason, and I really go back to when he first got here in rookie minicamp and first learning our techniques and our schemes. Then, you see a player gradually getting better. He did have some moments last night. Also, very physical at the point of attack.”


On how the Browns came out of last night’s preseason game health-wise:

“We are in pretty good shape. As you know, nicks and bruises and that type of thing, but we have three days this week and the players have mandated from the league three days off Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and then we will start our preparations on Monday of next week.”


On how difficult it is to have to release players this week who spent so much time with the team over the past few months:

“It is really hard. It is never easy. In any year, it is never easy because it is also a relationship business. Like I mentioned earlier, we spend a lot of time together. You get to know people on a personal level. From my perspective, I see them working so hard on the practice field doing everything that I have asked them to do. That is the hard part when you can’t keep everyone, but I wish that the guys that we can’t keep, I hope they catch on elsewhere.”


On the biggest takeaways from WR Anthony Schwartz’s preseason debut with 19 offensive snaps:

“That was good that we could get him out there. Coming back, he worked hard in rehab and slowly worked his way in the individual and team periods and to get out there. That was kind of our plan of around 15-20 snaps and get the game speed. We got the ball in his hands. He drew a DPI (defensive pass interference) early in the ball game. Really good to see him out there. Something that we can hopefully grow upon.”


On if Schwartz can be a factor for the Browns in Week 1:

“I think all of those types of things remain to be seen. I just think it is really good for a rookie, a young player to get out there in the game setting and make some plays. It is a good part of the progression.”


On if K Chase McLaughlin missing an extra point at the end of the preseason game hurt his chances to make the team:

“I tell you with every single one of these roster spots, these guys are fighting to be one of those 53. Chase is right there. He has had a really good camp. Obviously, you do not like to see a miss – we all know that – but he is working really hard.”


On T James Hudson III and if Hudson is ‘a little raw’:

“James Hudson, I will tell you, he works often with (assistant offensive line) Coach (Scott) Peters and (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan. They are working pre-practice and post-practice. He is getting better. I thought he had some really good moments throughout this preseason and had moments that I know he can learn from. That is part of it with all these rookies is these reps are so valuable, and even the ones that maybe you do not love and that the kid was wrong or did not use the right technique, you can learn from those. I think that is what I am seeing from James is he is learning from all of these reps.”


On if it is easier to make roster cuts this year, given he, Berry and the staff are in their second year together:

“No, I would not tell you it is any easier. I think from an organizational standpoint with Andrew’s staff, the coaching staff and just our building in general, obviously being around each other now going into Year 2, I think you certainly can streamline your process a little bit more. You have been through this type of process already once, but it does not make it easier from a personal standpoint and it does not make it easy just period because these are tough decisions that you have to make with the roster.”


On if he has conversations with Berry about the number of players at each position:

“Yeah, sure. You have all of those conversations and you go around the depth chart, up and down, left and right. You are just trying to keep the right 53 and then get some really good players in here on the practice squad that can help us and maybe develop and help us this season potentially.”


On if last night’s preseason game provided any insight to how defenses may try to defend QB Baker Mayfield this season, particularly as it relates to attempting to bat down passes at the line of scrimmage:

“I do not know. Obviously, the defense is always going to try and get their hands on the ball when they stop the rush for whatever reason. You will see that from different teams. I do not know that that is a thing that teams are going to try to do. I would tell you, when they are trying to bat the passes down, they are not rushing. They have stopped the rush oftentimes, which is a good thing. We will see. It is something we coach, as well – when you feel like the quarterback sets his back foot, the ball is coming out and you are not at the quarterback – to get your hands up. Those are the type of things that are really good for Baker and (QB) Case (Keenum) to feel because you have to sometimes slide one spot or the other or change your arm angle and those type of things to complete a pass.”


On how good of a throw Mayfield’s TD pass to Hodge was:

“Yeah, I thought it was a really good throw. I thought his technique and some of the nuances that he is putting into his technique if you will, he has really grown in some of things that he is doing out there.”


On the Browns having a limited number of positive COVID-19 tests and if that is a focus, as well as if the team has implemented any additional COVID-19 protocols this year, including reincorporating some of the policies from last year that were mandated but are not necessarily required in 2021:

“It is definitely a focus. I would tell you, we are just going to follow the rules and follow the protocols. Whatever they allow us to do, we are going to do to make sure we keep each other safe, keep our families safe, etc.”


On how he and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer evaluated McLaughlin’s near miss on the 56-yard FG attempt:

“That is a challenging kick. I do not know what they percentage is that you are expecting to make on 56. We wanted to put our field goal unit, not just Chase the whole unit, in a tough spot – snapper, holder and the entire blocking group. That was a challenge. It was close, but when that three-foot putt does not go in, you do not get to count it. It was a miss, but again, it was just part of the challenge and the evaluation.”


On if WR Odell Beckham Jr. will now fully join the first team in practice this week as the team prepares for Kansas City in Week 1:

“I would tell you with all of the guys, we are just going to continue to talk to the medical staff and progress every single one of the guys however appropriate. Really, the way we are looking at it is we have three good days this week. We will not necessarily turn all of our attention to Kansas City. We still have a lot that we need to work on in regards to us that we need to clean up. Certainly, those preparations will be coming sooner than later.”


On WR Davion Davis’ TD and if it was definitely a TD when reviewing it on film:

“They called it a touchdown. He does a great job when the ball is in the air on those contested catches. He has done that over the course of his career. He was very productive again last night. He practices very hard. He is a very conscientious player and studies and works at his craft. It was great to see him go up and make a play on their DB.”


On if the Browns could potentially afford to not have a K on the roster for a couple of days:

“I would tell you, all of those type of things Andrew and the crew are working through, and we will see how it shakes out. We have until tomorrow at 4 p.m. [to have 53 players on the roster].”


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