Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (12.18.21)

On if the Browns anticipate that any more players will be activated from or added to the reserve/COVID-19 list today, other than DE Takk McKinley and T James Hudson III, respectively:

“As you can imagine, things are very fluid. We will see how it goes in terms of guys going not the list, but in terms of guys who are coming back, we do not know. There is uncertainty there. If guys make it back, great. If they do not, that is fine, too. We have that mentality, as you know, where it is next man up and love to see guys come back, but definitely not something that we are counting on, so to speak.”


On if the recent changes to the COVID-19 protocols impact when he can rejoin the team:

“In terms of new protocols, I know how they have changed. I am not smart enough to understand CT levels and those type of things. If they tell me I am good to go, I will be back. Again, it is very similar with all of this. We are just kind of playing it minute by minute.”


On potential optimism additional Browns players could return for Monday’s game after the NFL announced transactions can be made up until Monday at 2 p.m. ET, rather than the standard deadline:

“Honestly, with the guys who are on the COVID list in terms of them testing out and those type of things, we really do not have any control over that. I do not think anybody knows. That is the uncertainty of these situation.  I think our players embrace the uncertainty and embrace the challenge of this all. Like I mentioned before, if guys make it back, that is great. If they do not, we will be just fine.”


On if having an extra 24 hours to potentially activate players from the reserve/COVID-19 list is an added benefit:

“Yeah, I guess. For us, our focus is definitely on what we did today, meeting on this and talking through it with the coaches. Like I said, it really is a day-by-day and even hour-by-hour approach when you are dealing with these type of things.”


On if the Browns receive additional information from COVID-19 tests regarding levels of the virus in the system rather than just a positive or negative and if that indicates how close a player is to returning:

“Yes, you do get that information. Again, there are smarter people than I to figure all that out, but to say that it is a linear progression of those numbers, I do not think anybody knows that. I like to just kind of focus on the things that we have to focus on. When (Senior Vice President of Player Health and Development) Joe Sheehan tells me something, I will listen to Joe.”


On the challenges adjusting a depth chart that is changing frequently based on players available:

“I think the coaches have done a great job and I think the players have done a great job of being able to adapt in all of this. That is something that we have seen from the team – certainly, last year, and I have seen it this year from the guys. That is part of our job as coaches is to find out who is available to us and put together a plan based on who is available to us. That is why we have these staff meetings so often.”


On how he is feeling:

“I am good to go.”


On today’s practice and how much the additional two days of preparation help the Browns for this week’s game:

“Practice looked good from this vantage point on Zoom. I will meet with the coaches here shortly and talk through it. I think it was really good to get the guys out there full speed. Today is our ‘Friday,’ if you will. We got some good work in. It was crisp. We can make corrections. Like you mentioned, we have time to make adjustments and make alterations with the extra time that we do have, and that is what we are trying to do.”


On QB Nick Mullens and Mullens’ performance in practice today while watching on Zoom:

“Yeah, I was watching it live from Zoom, and then as it gets updated on our server, watch it there, as well. Then we will watch it together as a staff here shortly. Nick is a young man, but he is a pro. He has been with a couple of different teams. He has been in our system, which is similar to what they were doing out there in San Francisco. He understands how we operate. He has been here long enough where he knows our cadence real well, the shifts, motions and those type of things just based on his experience. He did a nice job. We are going to use this extra time here to continue to answer any questions that he may have, clear up the gameplan and all of those type of things.”   


On Mullens’ mobility and attitude:

“Mobility is good. Again, he has made a bunch of plays in his career. He has played a lot of football in his career. Attitude is outstanding. He is a pro. He does a great job in that quarterback meeting room day in and day out. He gives a great look to the defense during the scout team periods. He has been great.”


On the decision for the Browns to have practice and practice inside today due to the weather conditions while the team is dealing with the current COVID-19 situation:

“What we are trying to do is keep everybody safe. We are trying to get the team ready for the game on Monday and getting work in while being safe. We took extra precautions with the guys in terms of how we came into the building, how we got dressed, how we left and all of those things. We limited the amount of time we were around each other. Those are things that we have done really all week. We are trying to be very, very smart about this, but also, trying to get out work in.”


On if the Browns’ medical experts advised the team to open the field house as much as possible, along with other mitigation efforts:



On the Browns’ plan at T after Hudson was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list today:

“Got that news this morning so we were able to kind of work through those contingencies and practice as such. I am not going to get into the specific movements that you have to make with that, but our coaches have done a great job throughout this as more information becomes available. Again, I would tell you, the players have been really outstanding in how flexible they are and understanding that whatever their job is they have to do it with as much preparation as they have.”


On if G Blake Hance’s experience playing both LT and RT gives the Browns additional flexibility on the OL:

“I think that is right. Blake has played every spot along the line, including tight end. He has been very valuable and versatile to what we do.”


On if the Browns would consider playing someone this week if they were cleared to return from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday:

“If they were healthy and they were good to go from that standpoint, I would not have a hesitation.”


On if Monday’s weather forecast calling for clear skies impacts the Browns offensive or defensive gameplan, given today’s rainy weather:

“I do not know if it changes the gameplan necessarily, but that is certainly one of the variables to all of this that we have been taking into account. Part of it is understanding personnel and who is available to you, and then we are always talking and thinking about the weather as we go into these games. Definitely, that variable does change so it is something that we will discuss.”


On recalling the 1987 NFL work stoppage when players who had not spent much or any time in the NFL competed and if it ‘gets his juices going’ to coach players who may not have as much experience as others:

“I remember those games well (laughter). I will tell you seriously, I think our coaches have the attitude that whatever we have available to us and however we have to adjust, that is what we are going to do. It is very much a can-do attitude, and that is what we talked about as a team. We are embracing this uncertainty. We are embracing this challenge that is in front of us. I really, really believe these coaches and these players understand what is at stake and understand that we have to get it done.”


On if the Browns held any players out of practice today or adjusted their workload as it relates to COVID-19:

“Did something similar with (DE) Myles (Garrett) today. Really, just trying to make smart decisions with all of our guys. Like we talked about earlier with everybody, made some adjustments to how we come together and how we get in the building – we brought the guys in in shifts. We are trying to be smart about all of this.”


On if the Browns shared a message of reminding players to remain safe when outside of the building:

“Yeah, and the new protocols that are put in place are really limiting the amount of ability you have to get together with teammates or anyone. Those are the things that we have reminded them, and you are right, we are on a short week next week so those are all things that we are taking into account.”


On the Browns initial interest in signing QB Nick Mullens:

“He has played good football. He has some really good tape out there and is somebody that our personnel department has followed closely. (Offensive assistant) T.C. McCartney was with Nick out in San Francisco so had good knowledge of him as a person, as a player and those type of things. I think he has done an outstanding job really for us all season long.”


On what gives the team confidence in Mullens’ ability to navigate the Browns offense with all of the moving parts from the past week:

“He is a pro. That is what you do.”


On what Browns players who are currently on the reserve/COVID-19 have been doing this week to stay ready in the event they are activated in time for Monday’s game:

“We have had a lot of meetings virtually. They have spent a lot of time on Zoom. We have made adjustments throughout to the gameplan so really, they have had to stay locked in. That has been our message to all of those guys. You can only control what you can control, but also, you have to stay ready. That has certainly been the message this week, and it really should be the message this entire season going back to last year. You just have to stay ready.”


On if the team has to preach the importance of staying ready to Browns players or if they already understand the significance of it:

“You would hope so, but I think with going on that COVID list, there is just uncertainty with it. You do not know how long you are going to be on there with the changes to the protocols as they have been. You might get off sooner than you think. That is one of those things that we have talked about in terms of staying ready.”


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