Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (4.20.22)

Opening statement:

“Good to see everybody. Welcome back to the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Good to have everybody back here, just like it was good to have the players back here as they arrived in the snow globe yesterday. To have them in the building, in the weight room and in the classroom, there is an energy that our players bring so that was awesome to see everybody here and working again. During these meetings throughout this week, Phase I, as you know, is really the classroom and the weight room. We will transition to Phase II in a couple of weeks when we will get out on the field in the players. Again, bringing that energy, and it is a great to see.”


On the main message to Browns players during the first few days of the voluntary offseason program, particularly with new personnel:

“To that point, with those new faces, you have to come together as a team. The 2022 team is different than 2021, and that is just the nature of the NFL – as we all know, there are new faces, there are new coaches and there are some new staff members and moving people around. Part of that is just getting around each other to come together as a team. That is really the No. 1 goal. Now, that is not the only goal – we have to teach and reteach our systems, and we have to learn and relearn our systems – but we want them to know that this building and this campus is a safe, competitive, fun place for them to be during this offseason program.”


On impressions of QB Deshaun Watson as the team begins the voluntary offseason program:

“I think he is doing a really nice job of learning the system. He is spending a lot of time with (QBs) Jacoby (Brissett) and Josh (Dobbs). We really have three new quarterbacks in there so there is a lot of learning that is going on, and there is a lot of teaching, as you can imagine. I think he is doing a nice job of diving into it. There is really no way to do it other than start at square one and go back over how we call things, formations, defensive terminology, etc. He’s doing a nice job.”


On how different the Browns offense will look with Watson after Watson joined the team last month:

“We have had him for a month, but really, we have only been able to talk football in the last week. We are just diving into that. We are talking as a staff. We are talking with Deshaun. Understanding some of our concepts that we are tweaking and those types of things. Those are ongoing, but it is April. We will continue to work through all of that this spring.”


On conversations with QB Baker Mayfield, plans for Mayfield moving forward:

“That is a unique situation. It is fluid. We will just continue to work through it as we go each day.


On if the Browns expect Mayfield to report to the voluntary offseason program or not:

“It is a voluntary program. What we won’t do is we won’t say who is here and who is not here. It is voluntary. The guys who show up, we are excited that they are here and we are excited to work with them, but guys who were yesterday might be here Monday and guys will come in throughout the week. We are just going to make sure that guys who are here, we are working hard.”


On summarizing attendance during the first two days of the voluntary offseason program:

“It has been good. How is that? You are the wordsmith (laughter). More than anything, it is fun that the guys are back in the building. This is really the first Phase I that I have had with the guys. You can’t do a ton of football other than the classroom, but I just think that there is great value with them working out with their teammates in here and developing those relationships, which as we all know, were hard when we weren’t together and then were even harder when we were in the building and you had to spread out, and you had to have the locker rooms spread out and you had the plastic up in between the lockers. Those barriers, so to speak, are down, and it is such an important time to come together as a team.”


On adapting the Browns offense with a new QB room:

“We definitely have to adapt to our players, and certainly, the quarterback is so important in what we do so we will make we that we do what Deshaun does best and what the quarterback room does best. Those are the things that we are working through as we study and have studied Deshaun, Jacoby and Josh, understand what those guys do best and make sure that we can do that come September. To get there, though, there are a lot of meetings, there is a lot of install and there is a lot of practice that has to occur to ultimately tell you how much we will change.”


On CB Denzel Ward’s contract extension:

“It is outstanding for Denzel and for his family. He has earned it with the way he has played, the way he has conducted himself off the field and what he has done in our community. He speaks to the type of culture that the Haslam family has in this community. Denzel just embodies that. Excited to lock him up. He is a good football player at a really premium position.


On Ward having a quieter personality yet having a leadership role on the team:

“He is going into Year 5 so I think he has certainly found his voice from a leadership position from playing so much football, and the guys respect him. He puts the work in, he plays hard and he does it the right way so I think he is certainly developing his own voice.”


On if there is excitement as coaches to have new players and explore new opportunities to showcase their abilities:

“Absolutely. For our coaching staff, anytime we add a new player, we really go into that room, put the tape on, get on the board and talk about what we can do with those players. As I have said to AVP (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt) many times, there is no shortage of plays. You can put a lot of plays up there, but it is more about what can our guys do best and how can we utilize them so that they are doing their best. A guy like (WR) Amari (Cooper) for instance and the routes he runs, where do we want to line him up? Those are the type of conversations (pass game coordinator/wide receivers Coach) Chad (O’Shea) would have when we acquired Amari, and now it is a matter of putting that into practice. Again, Phase I is just the classroom; we can’t get on the field with him, but there will be a time for that.”


On if there is one particular area that the Browns coaches are excited to work with Watson:

“Not one. I would not tell you [there is] one particular area. It is a body of work.”


On how much input Watson will have in helping develop the Browns offense’s scheme:

“With the quarterback, you do want this to be a collaboration. All quarterbacks are different, and you want to make sure that you meet them where they are. Deshaun is very open minded to trying different things that he has not done. Similarly, we are very open minded to putting in schemes that he has a lot of success in that we have not done for instance. It is an ongoing conversation. Day in and day out, just spending time with him yesterday and today, he wants to certainly grow as a player, and he wants to try different concepts. That is the beauty of the spring – May and June – where you can get out on the field and it is somewhat of a laboratory, and you try those things out and see what fits because there are going to be bunch of things that we hope fit, and you take that into training camp and certain things that maybe he does not love, you do not do it because it is just  ultimately, it is what our quarterback is most comfortable doing.”


On first impressions of Cooper:

“Coop has been great. Very responsive to coaching. Amari, as you know or will know, he is not the loudest guy in the room, but he is very, very thoughtful, very, very intelligent and has been productive really every year he has been in this league. He is a good teammate. Just watching him work in the weight room and seeing him around his teammates, he is a guy who really works hard. He puts in the work. He is not somebody that is skirting around the work in any way.”


On if the this part of the offseason program is more about learning the systems or about building team chemistry:

“It is both. Whatever the breakdown is, it is definitely both because I just think we have all been through that virtual, remote world – it is doable; it is just hard. There is just such great value in guys sitting down and breaking bread together. It seems simple, but we have not done it. To have the guys in cafeteria, in the locker room together and in the weight room and the classroom, just putting people around each other and starting to develop those relationships. it is really important.”


On reshaping the Browns QB room and the significance of the QBs sharing similar skillsets:

“We felt like we added three good players, and ultimately, they do share some skillsets. Not all the exact same in that regard but certainly bigger and a little bit more athletic, the three guys together. Ultimately, it is what those three guys do best, and there is certainly a thread of things that they do well that we want to make sure we are utilizing.”


On if Watson addressed the team about ongoing legal proceedings:

“I am not going to get into what guys are talking about necessarily. I will tell you, he has done a nice job of being around the guys.”


On if Watson has informed the team that he will have to miss some of the offseason program due to those ongoing legal proceedings:

“We will work through those types of things. As you know, there are ongoing proceedings, and we will make sure that we work through those.”


On helping the team avoid distractions that surround Watson’s ongoing legal proceedings:

“I think that is what our guys do really well. They are professionals, and they know that when we are in the building, we focus on what is in front of us, whether it is the classroom, the weight room or eventually when we are out on the field. That is being a pro is making sure when you are in this building, you are here to work. That is what the guys are doing.”


On his reaction to Mayfield’s recent comment about feeling ‘disrespected’ by the team:

“I am not going to get into the specifics of those types of things. Again, it really is a unique situation, and we will just work through it.”


On evaluating how the Browns can help better prevent soft-tissue injuries:

“We have spent a lot of time on that front as an organization, and we certainly wanted to address those things that came up. As you know, sometimes soft-tissue injuries are unavoidable. We want to avoid the ones that we can. We continue to try to be smart with our players when they are in this building utilizing the resources that we have in this building and being smart when we are not in the building, and when they leave here to go work out in the summertime before training camp, being smart about what they are doing. Definitely, we want to be intentional about anything we do when it comes to injury prevention.”


On if the Browns have incorporated additional injury-prevention resources since last season, particularly now that personnel limits due to COVID-19 restrictions are no longer in place:

“I think you are definitely going to see around the league that buildings are more open to having those type of resources. Like I mentioned to you guys a couple of weeks back, you will see what we are doing in this building in the next couple days to address those things.”


On the new recovery room for Browns players and how much players’ postseason feedback led to the creation of those resources:

“I would not necessarily characterize it that way that it was a direct response to those type of things. I just think it was a great vision by people in this building and support from ownership to better think about that space. When I first got here, we would have never thought we would move the weight room full-time into the indoor facility, and we have done that, and I think we even have done it better the last couple of weeks as we reimagined that space. That was part of it is getting some smart people together and talking about how we can better utilize that space. I am not one of those smart people to talk to you about exactly what they did (laughter), but in due time, we will have somebody talk through it.”


On Brissett:

“Jacoby is a young football player who has played a good amount of games. He understands how to win. He has really been in some different systems that have allowed him to grow in his football intelligence. A really quality person. I think you guys are going to get a chance to talk to Jacoby in a little bit. A quality person. Very intelligent. Just felt like his skillset was something that would match up really well with our offense.”


On how Browns players have received Watson and if Watson has been embraced by teammates:

“Certainly, I think he is being embraced by his teammates. We are in Day 2 of the offseason program so I think it is like any player on your team that is new, it takes time to develop relationships. I think now is that time. What they do in the building here and when they go leave this building, spending time together, I think those things happen naturally.”


On if he has encouraged Watson to discuss legal proceedings with new teammates:

“I am not going to get into specifics there, but I would tell you, with all of our new players when you are first around your teammates, there is a process that you go through in getting to understand people, and you can’t do that all at once and have lunch with the entire team type of thing. Over time, I think Deshaun, like all of our new players, understands that you have to spend time at it when you are talking about developing relationships.”


On if the Browns have a better indication about when Watson may be suspended by the NFL, if discipline is imposed:

“I do not have an answer for that right now.”


On T Jack Conklin’s recovery:

“He is here, and he is working really hard. I do not have a date for you, but he is on schedule with everything. He is doing a nice job.”


On the value of Brissett’s starting experience, given a possible suspension for Watson:

“It is valuable. You have a young player who has played a good amount of football in his career. He has won games. He understands how to play the position. He understands how to take care of the ball and how to lead. He understands how to win without getting any reps in a given week. He has done a nice job. He has been a starter and a backup. I just think there is value with that position understanding his role and understanding that his role can change in a moment’s notice.”


On how a potential suspension for Watson changes the Browns offense’s approach to planning for the 2022 season:

“That is part of our job is to plan. Everybody has to be ready to plan, and then as more information becomes available, then we can adjust how we structure practice, how we structure rotations and those type of things. Absent that information, I can’t really speculate just yet, but certainly as more information comes out, we will be ready to adjust and address any new information.”


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