Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (6.1.22)

Opening statement:

“Good to see everybody. Really good work out there today. A lot of good situational football work. We got down in the red zone.  Really every day in OTAs, we are getting in the red zone. Every day we are working our third and fourth downs. Had some third and fourth and longer distances today, which I thought was really good teaching for both sides of the ball. Really appreciative of the guys who are out there working, and they are grinding. It was warm out there. I think that is all good work. Really impressed with this group, and then we have to have another really good day tomorrow, which will end our OTAs this week. Really pleased with where we are and recognize we have a ton of room to grow.”


On if Browns players not in attendance for today’s OTA had his excusal to not be here:

“It is all voluntary so they do not need my excusal.”


On a new plaintiff filing a civil case against QB Deshaun Watson and if the Browns anticipated it could occur:

“I would tell you with all of that, respectfully, I am going to let the legal proceedings play out, and I am respectful of that process.”


On if the new civil case filed changes anything about the organization’s comfort level with Watson:

“Again, I think it goes back to the work we did prior to this. We have covered that, but I will just continue to let the proceedings play out.”


On if Watson taking reps with both the first and second team OL:

“I would not look into that. Like anything, you are always trying to get everybody ready so you sometimes do not have your No. 1 tight end lined up to your No. 1 tackle necessarily per play. We are rotating guys. Specifically to the defensive side, I think the coaches are doing a really nice job of moving guys around and trying them in different spots because as we all know, during the season you are going to need somebody to go play a position that they have not played a ton of so now is the time to get these reps. I think these reps are just so valuable.”


On the Browns signing TE David Njoku to a contract extension and if it is an indication that Njoku will be featured more in the offensive system:

“With Dave, certainly want to feature him. I think his skillset, as we all know, great size, great length in terms of catching the football and being able to go up and pluck contested catches. I would speak to his development as a blocker. That is something that I am proud of David for his evolution of a blocker. To your question, yes, I think there is an evolution that will continue for David the player. With us last year, as you know, with (former Browns and Titans TE) Austin Hooper, David and (TE) Harrison (Bryant), we played a lot of 13 [personnel]. Now with Hoop gone and we will see if there is a third tight end who emerges, but certainly, you would expect some of that share to be divvied up among all of the guys, including David. That all remains to be seen, but David certainly is deserving of that contract. He earned it. He did everything we asked him to do.”


On Njoku having strong moments and performances and then seeming to ‘disappear’ in other moments within the offense and ability for Njoku to be more of a consistent threat moving forward:

“Obviously, we have to get into these games, gameplan for these games, put players in position to make plays and those type of things, but he is a big part of what we plan to do. There is no doubt about that. I would just tell you what I am most impressed with Dave is just his – I would use the word ‘evolution’ again – of becoming a complete tight end. There are not a ton of guys who can block, run and catch.”


On if running more three-wide receiver sets creates more mismatch opportunities for the TE compared to 13 personnel:

“I do not know necessarily. One way to look at it is if you are in 13 personnel and they are matching you with base, that is going to have typically three linebackers on the field for them. Are they as good of cover players then when you go 11 personnel and you may get dime, which is going to have one linebacker on the field? I think it is dependent on the team you are playing, but we are always thinking about that type of question. You are always thinking about matchups when it comes to the tight end position.”


On the excitement and potential of agreeing to an extension with Njoku, who is only 25 years old but has five years of playing experience:

“I think it is a good point because he is 25; he is young. I do not know if he physically can grow any more, but his game can grow. That is a conversation I have had with him. I do expect his game to grow, and it is not as simple as saying, ‘Hey, we are going to throw more balls to you.’ I think his game will grow, and you will see it in the run game and in the pass game, and you will see it kind of throughout. I think he is committed to that. David wants to get better, and to be 25, I think you have that opportunity to get better.”


On the Browns finishing OTA No. 5 and if the team plans to use all of its OTA days:

“We do.”


On if having continuity on the team has helped aspects of the offseason program run better or more smoothly:

“Yes, I think continuity is good in that regard, but it is the first time we have had 10 OTAs. I want to point out how great it is having all of those guys out there. It is a voluntary program, but it is great having those guys out there and working. You are getting better every day. When they are out there, they are getting better, even when you make a mistake because you have to make that mistake once, and you likely won’t make it again. I just think every opportunity we have out there to improve as a football team is so incredibly valuable. The continuity, like you mentioned, I think it is great in terms of communication certainly among the coaching staff and that type of thing, but we have plenty of new players so there is a ton of coaching and there is a ton of learning that is going on.”


On how important it is in the NFL to have a big TE who can stretch the field:

“For us, it is always trying to feature your best players. That is our job to put them in position to go make a play. Tight end certainly for us has been something that we have tried to highlight. I know it is easy to divvy up and say the player but then you can also say the room and collectively have a tight end room effects the offense, collectively how the wide receiver room effects the offense and so on and so forth. We are excited about the group we have, and then it is incumbent on us to put those guys in position to succeed.”


On if the Browns can evaluate how C Nick Harris is settling in as the No. 1 C without pads:

“Without the pads on to your point, it is really hard to evaluate the offense and defensive line outside of what they are doing in their individual drills – you can certainly evaluate that – but the way the rules are written, you really can’t go full speed as a team. The guys don’t have shells on; they just have helmets on. We have tried to slow it way, way down when we are in a team setting so it is an incomplete evaluation for everybody when the pads are not on. Just speaking to Nick in general, I think you guys know how we have talked about how he has treated this offseason, how he has come in great shape and he has worked incredibly hard just from the day the season ended really throughout the offseason of working so hard on his body. As we all know, that center position is making so many calls and so much communication occurs from the center to the offensive line. That is something that Nick is very good at, and he works hard at it.”


On what DE Myles Garrett’s presence adds to the defense during OTAs and how Garrett can continue to develop:

“Another player… I know that Myles is a great player; I think he can get better. Those are conversations that I have had with Myles and a bunch of our players is never settling on where you are. Potential is just that – potential. I think he has an opportunity to get better. There are areas of his game that he has talked with Coach Kiff (defensive line coach Chris Kiffin) about wanting to improve. When he is out there on the field and with the team, he is working on those things.”


On how securing Njoku’s future as a veteran helps allow the team to develop younger TEs:

“For us, it goes to (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) and the crew do a great job of managing the cap, valuing our players and figuring out who we can keep here. I have said it before and you have heard me say it, I would love to keep everybody and I would love to pay everybody every dime that comes your way, but it is a challenge to work that. Anytime you can secure a player, like was mentioned, for a bunch of years, a young player, I think it is outstanding. To the second part of your question, there are young players on our roster who we are developing, and they are all developing at their own pace. When guys like (DE) Alex (Wright) are ready, ready to play and make an impact, they will be in there, but I think we just have to be smart about each guy develops at his own pace.”


On what has impressed the team most about Watson on the field while learning and operating the Browns offense:

“I think that is such a big part of it is learning. It goes from the classroom onto the field. It is watching tape on your own. He has really dived into this and is trying really hard to get up to speed. I think so much of it is rep based. You have to get reps on each one of these plays. You can get bored in the offseason – I think we have somewhere upwards of 350 seven-on-seven reps this offseason, and each one of them is valuable – so you may take one certain play and run it from the left hash, run it from the right hash, run it from 11 [personnel], run it out of 12, run it with a motion and run it with a motion and a shift, and we are just trying to make it rote memory for the quarterback – for everybody but particularly that quarterback – and understanding you have it versus single-high this time, then you are going to get it versus shell and then you are going to get it versus pressure. Those are the type of things that you do in this offseason, and for a quarterback coming to a new team and learning a new system, your new teammates and those type of things, I just think you have to dive in to that process, and he has done that.”


On Watson having a crisp throwing motion and release:

“His physical ability certainly jumps out to you on the field. His stroke, as AVP (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt) would say, with how the ball comes out, how quickly it comes out and where his elbow and hand are in relation to that ball coming out, the velocity and all of those types of things, I think it has been impressive to watch this caliber of player be able to get the ball out of his hand quickly and really accurately. As we all know, that is so important.”


On the Browns QB room with Watson potentially being suspended by the NFL:

“We will see how all of it plays out. For us, we just try and take information as it comes. When it comes to backup quarterback – I just mentioned AVP – it is really, really helpful having a coordinator who has been a backup quarterback in the NFL. He understands the quarterback position of course but really understands backup quarterbacks and how they operate. We will see how it plays out, but with backups, they have to be ready to play with zero reps. Sometimes you get zero reps, and that is the name of the game. Sometimes you get to prepare for a game that you know you are starting and you have some head time to develop and those type of things. I particularly would tell you that AVP does a great job with that quarterback room because of his experience as a backup.”


On QB Baker Mayfield:

“Again, with all of those type of questions, it is really just take information day by day.”


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