Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (12.15.21)

Opening statement:

“You guys saw the news this morning. We have a few more positives, myself included. The message to the team, as you can imagine, is we all have to just do our jobs so that is what I am doing. Making sure that we are staying engaged in the meetings. Ran our meeting this morning, continue to gameplan and get ready for a big game on Saturday. We will adjust the schedule this afternoon. We will bring the guys in for walkthroughs today. We will bring the defense in first. We will be outside, masked up and spread out. Really, the guys will go from the parking lot right onto the field. Then we will have a brief special teams walkthrough, then we will have an offensive walkthrough after that and then add some more virtual meetings this evening and afternoon. Really, that is where we are. We have been here before. I do not feel much different than I felt yesterday in terms of everybody has to step up depending on who is available.”


On confidence the Browns can get their necessary preparation prior to Saturday’s game:

“You lean on what you did last year, and we had weeks like this. It is not ideal obviously, but the hope is to get a full-speed practice in tomorrow if we can, and we will deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. I think the guys understand what needs to get done today, and that is really what is most important.”


On if the NFL has shared any new information about the status of Saturday’s game:

“Again, I am kind of keeping the focus on today. We have a game Saturday at 4:30 p.m., unless somebody tells me otherwise. We just really have to focus on what we need to do to prepare, and that is our full expectation is to get out there with our guys Saturday and go find a way.”


On if he would like to see Saturday’s game be postponed by the NFL:

“I would like to see the Browns play well versus the Raiders.”


On if Browns players’ community events in the public need to be approved by the team and if the team has advised against those recently, even though they are well intentioned:

“I think with that, our guys, as you know, being in the community and giving back to the community is a very big deal to us. Now, we want to do that responsibly, and we always follow CDC guidelines and the league’s protocols. That is what our team will continue to do.”


On if he knows which COVID-19 variant he tested positive for:

“I do not.”


On if or when the COVID-19 situation could create a circumstance where it is ‘undoable’ to play the game based on the number of players on the reserve/COVID-19 list and the ability to field a team:

“I am not worried about that. I am worried about today, having great meetings and our walkthrough. Really, that is what our focus is. That is what I told the team. We have to focus on our job, and then we have to do our job. I understand that there are distractions, and I understand that there is a lot going on, but I really do not care. What I care about is making sure that we have our best week of preparation.”


On if it is possible the Browns may not be able to have a practice prior to Saturday and only conduct walkthroughs:

“I do not know is the best way to put it.”


On if he has the ‘lucky spot in his basement’ ready to watch Saturday’s game where he viewed the Browns’ AFC Divisional Round Win over the Steelers last year, if he is not able to coach:

“It is ready to go just in case, like you said.”


On QB Baker Mayfield and other Browns players on the reserve/COVID-19 list likely being unavailable on Saturday and QB Case Keenum starting this week:

“I spoke to Baker this morning. I was on virtual meetings with him. He is locked in, and really, that is really what everybody has to do. Whether you are positive or not, injured or otherwise, you have to say locked in and ready to go and see how it plays out. We are really trying to deal with things minute to minute and hour by hour here. Baker specifically is locked in.”


On if it is possible the positive test results could be due to other factors and if there is a potential that Browns players could return form the reserve/COVID-19 list sooner than initially expected:

“I do not know specific to that. The rules, as you know, being that you have to return two negative tests so that will be our goal.”


On confidence in offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt as the offensive play caller and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as acting head coach, particularly given their experience in those roles during the AFC Divisional Round last season:

“My confidence, as you can imagine, is incredibly high with all of our coaches. We have been through this before so if I am unavailable on Saturday, I have the utmost confidence in Coach Prief and AVP. Really, that is the mentality we have as an organization with our players and with our coaches – next man up.”


On who will coach the RBs this week if offensive coaching assistant Ryan Cordell is unavailable:

“AVP and I are working through that. (Senior offensive assistant) Kevin Rogers, who is one of our senior assistants, is in that room already. We will work through that.”


On if the majority of the Browns personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic:

“I cannot get into the specifics, but I am feeling fine if you care (laughter).


On an understanding that the majority of the Browns are vaccinated, and if they are asymptomatic, would he prefer the players and coaches be able to still participate in practices and the game, particularly as league meetings are occurring today and COVID-19 protocols are reportedly on the agenda:

“My advice – as you can probably already guess – is that I am going to focus on my job and what I have to do, which is get the team ready to play Saturday. We may have some guys who are unavailable so we will get some of their backups ready. That is really where our focus has to go in a situation like this. I understand all of the things going on outside of our building and whatnot, but we have to keep our focus on what we have to do.”


On how to keep morale high within the building after the additions to the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“I think part of it is having been through similar situations last season and seeing and looking around the league to see what other people are dealing with, it is just another obstacle that is in the way. We have really good leadership on this team with our players, and I really believe that they are going to focus on the task at hand.”


On if the positive tests results could be related to travel during the bye-week:

“I do not think we have gone that far to understand it exactly.”


On testing positive after receiving the COVID-19 booster shot and if that is concerning:

“With all of this, as you know, it can be frustrating, but we just have to continue listening to the experts in our areas and try to keep everybody safe – my family and your family. That is going to be our task moving forward.”


On if he knows if the league would be in charge of determining a potential forfeit in this week’s game, in the event the Browns are unable to play the game on Sunday due to an increased number of COVID-19 positives:

“I really do not. As you can imagine, our focus is on preparing and getting ready to play a big game.”


On how much he can be involved in virtual team activities this week while out of the building:

“I am on the virtual call with the guys, making phone calls and sending text messages. I might peak through the fence from the outside and watching how they are doing. I think the guys proved last year that they do not need me. I am here, I am going to support them and I am going to do my job, but if I can’t be out there with them Saturday, they will be ready to go.”


On if the Browns will be able to fully identify whether or not S Ronnie Harrison Jr. and TE Harrison Bryant will be able to return from injury if the team does not have a full practice this week:

“Yeah, I do because you watched Ronnie at practice last week. I saw Ronnie work out before the game. I have seen Harrison run. I feel good about where they are progressing, and then – like you mentioned – if we did not hypothetically have that [practice], but you can take them to the game and see them move around before the game. I think those are two very diligent players who I do think could play if that is how it shakes out.”


On if the Browns are creating additional contingency plans in the event the team gets notice of additional positive COVID-19 results:

“That is what we do. You have Plan A, and you have Plan B, and it is a good thing those whiteboards can be erased. Listen, I said it yesterday, we have guys on this roster who we trust. We have guys on this roster who we have been developing, who are in the meetings and are diligent about preparation. If we are calling on them this week, they will be ready, that is what they do. That is their job. Again, our job as coaches is finding out who is available to us and putting together a gameplan with these guys so that these guys can go play fast, go play free and play to the best of their ability. That is what we have to do this week. Really, like I mentioned before, it is just adjusting hour by hour here.”


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