Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (11.10.21)


Opening statement:

“A big challenge this week going against another 5-4 team, just like us. An AFC opponent. A really good football team. We have to go on the road and play our best to try and get a win. They are very, very well-coached, as you all know. Offensively, defensively and special teams, they are very sound, and they are very physical. Their offense is a physical group. The quarterback (Patriots QB Mac Jones) is playing at a high level. He does not look like a rookie to me. They can play a physical brand of football with a bunch of different running backs. They have guys on the perimeter who can make plays and can make contested catches and some really good tight ends. It presents a big challenge. Defensively, they are very big and long and play a physical brand of football. They can play five on the line of scrimmage, and they can get into a four-down front. They can pressure. They play shell. It is an impressive scheme that can show you multiple looks. Special teams, which they have always done a great job with, they have great players, they play hard and a really good scheme. A big week of preparation for us to get ready to go on the road.”


On if there is an update on the status of RBs Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton:

“I do not have an update on their status.”


On if the Browns are preparing at this point to play Sunday’s game without Chubb and Felton and the plan at RB if both are unavailable this week:

“We will see in terms of their availability. As you guys know the rules, we will see how this week goes if we can get them back or not. If they are unable to make it to the game, (RB) D’Ernest Johnson obviously is our starter in that scenario, and we have some other options that we are going to look at this week.”


On if Chubb is symptom-free:

“I am not going to get into specifics on that.”


On what changes in the building with the team under the enhanced COVID-19 protocols:

“We are in the enhanced COVID protocols. That means everyone is getting tested every single day with that Mesa test. We are doing meetings virtually only. Our cafeteria is closed down. We are wearing masks around the building again. Like you mentioned, it is things that we have done before. We know virtual meetings are not ideal, but we also understand that you can cover a lot of ground in them. We just talked this morning with the players about making sure they are engaged in those meetings and getting everything out of them that we need to.”


On if RB Kareem Hunt will potentially be designated to return from injured reserve this week and the status of LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who was designated to return from injured reserve today:

“We will not have Kareem this week. JOK will do some work today, and we will see how he does to make a determination whether he is available to us.”


On the Browns’ confidence in Johnson, particularly given the performance when starting at RB against the Broncos:

“We have kind of talked about it over the years that guys have to step up. We talked about it going back to the Denver game with D’Ernest, and he did. His role for us moving forward is somebody who we are going to count on, and he works very hard.”


On if there is anything the Browns wish they would have done differently during the past week related to the recent COVID-19 positive results:

“I do not think so. I would just tell you that whatever the protocols are, we follow them to a T. It is what it is.”


On if WR Jarvis Landry could see opportunities in the backfield this week with the limited number of RBs currently available:

“We will see. We will see how this week goes, see who is available to us and put together a plan.”


On if the Browns are asking players this week to lessen their public activity when outside of the building:

“We are just trying to follow whatever the rules are that are in place. We are going to follow them. Previously, you did not have to wear masks around the building; now, we do. Previously, we could meet in person; we are not going to. Whatever the rules are, we are going to make sure we follow them. Now, we do remind the guys to be mindful of who you around. If a family member is in town or a friend is in town who is sick, that is important to know, and make sure that you make smart decisions.”


On Jones’ performance this season:

“I think he sees it really clearly. Makes good decisions. Gets the ball out of his hands. You just see him progressing quickly.”


On if there is anything unique that goes into preparing for a team coached by Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick-coached team, in addition to his comments about the Patriots being well-coached:

“I do not think so. I have a tremendous amount of respect for their team, their players and their coaches. I think mentioned to you guys the other day, (pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach) Chad O’Shea is someone who spent a bunch of years there and understands how they go about their business. There is no secret, they are just very-well coached, and they are very sound in their schemes, good fundamentals and good techniques so we have to play our best to try and get a win.”


On if there are any takeaways from last year’s game against the NY Jets when the Browns were missing most of their WRs that can be applied to this week, if the Browns are limited on RB availability:

“We just have to be problem solvers and see what comes, whether it is today, tomorrow or whatever. That situation was a little bit different. It was later in the week with that. We will see who is available to us. We have contingency plans and just have to really deal with it day to day.”


On if he has seen QB Baker Mayfield step up in less-than-ideal situations like the current one where players may be unavailable due to injury or other reasons:

“Well, I have not seen him yet because I have only seen him virtually so I will let you know.”


On if the team has received other positive test results, in addition to C Nick Harris being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this morning:

“We did not have any other positives.”


On if Browns players who are not participating in practice today have a good chance to practice later in the week:

“I am hopeful that all of those guys will practice this week at some point.”


On if Mayfield is more comfortable playing with the shoulder harness now and if that contributed to Mayfield’s strong performance at Cincinnati and ability to push the ball downfield:

“It might. It certainly could have. Just in my discussions with him, he is comfortable with the harness and has been. Like anything, you would imagine that he gets more comfortable over time”


On what he liked most about Mayfield’s decision-making last week:

“I thought he made quick decisions. I think he saw it clearly, which I think is important for quarterbacks to see it, especially when teams are trying to disguise, whether pressure or coverage. I think he saw it clearly and got through his progressions quickly.”


On if the Browns have to handle the distribution of practice reps differently this week with Chubb and Felton on the reserve/COVID-19 list compared to when players are unavailable due to injury:

“I guess you do have to deal with it differently, but really, our focus is dealing with Wednesday, who is available to us at practice, who needs to get what work and who do we need to bring up to speed for today. We will deal with the rest of the week as we get more information.”


On how the Browns prepare newly acquired players to get ready to play if needed on Sunday:

“Again, no magic wand. You just have to get them out on the practice field, explain our techniques to them and meet quite a bit virtually to catch them up to speed.”


On G Wyatt Teller’s contract extension:

“Happy for Wyatt and his family. I think it is great. Obviously, (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) and his crew worked to get this done. Like I mentioned to you guys yesterday, he is a tone-setter, plays very physical and has done a nice job for us.”


On reports that G Joel Bitonio may be signing a contract extension with the Browns soon and the Browns’ investment in the running game with extensions for Teller, Chubb and Hunt:

“I think Andrew is making decisions on a case-by-case basis. The guys you just mentioned are all good football players. I know it is easy to say it is the run game, but they are good football players. They are good in the run, and they are good in the pass.”


On how important Bitonio and Teller are to have success in the run game:

“I think we are able to do multiple things. There is a multiplicity to our offense based on the personnel. That is what we have to do as coaches is put these guys in a position to succeed and not ask them to do something they can’t. With those two guys in particular, there are multiple things they can do. They can pull, they can gap-scheme and they can zone-scheme so that obviously helps us form a versatility standpoint.”


On how frustrating it is to have vaccinated Browns players test positive for COVID-19:

“Not frustrating. I think we have all seen that across the league and across the country that there are breakthrough cases. We understand that. We will just deal with it on a day-to-day basis.”


On if the Browns are hopeful some players on the reserve/COVID-19 list may be available this week, given the protocols require two negative tests in 24 hours for vaccinated players to return:

“I think we will see. It is unfortunate. You do not want any of your guys to be sick, to be hurt, etc. You do not want them to be on any list if you can avoid it, but we will see how it goes over the next couple of days.”


On how extending Teller resonates within the Browns locker room:

“I think players are always rooting for their teammates. When guys are able to get a contract, get a new contract or whatever it may be, I think the guys are excited for him, especially when you see the hard work that goes into that type of thing.”


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