Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (6.11.24)

Kevin, we didn’t see Amari Cooper at practice. Can you provide some information on why went out here? 

“Yeah. Not excused, obviously, as you guys know, you really have to focus on the guys that are here. These situations. I understand that they do come up. I’ll really leave all of that between Amari and Amari’s agent, AB (Andrew Berry) and those type of conversations. But again, as you guys know, we focus on guys that are here. We’ll get some good work in and really keep it at that.”


Can you confirm if he’s asked for a contract extension?

“I can’t confirm that.”


In a case like this, does he or his agent inform the Browns?

“There has been a dialogue.”


How about Jerry Jeudy wasn’t out there today. Can you tell us about Jerry?

“He’s here. Yeah, just working through some things, but he’s here.”


And how does that impact your installation in any way? Not to have your top two receivers out there?

“It doesn’t really impact your installation, Mary Kay (Cabot). You know, we’ve been installing all the way back to April, so we really have our schedule and we’re getting everybody up to speed and the guys are working hard at it, but that doesn’t really affect that. No.”


Deshaun (Watson) took a step forward and throwing in seven-on-sevens. One, what did you see there? And two, do you expect him to throw tomorrow or is that still TBD?

“Yeah, I expect him to throw Thursday. So, take a day off tomorrow. You know, natural next step is throwing out there against the defense in seven-on-seven. Then you’ll graduate to team, and we can do team drills and those type of things. But, yeah, I thought he looked good, made good decisions. Again, you get mental reps when you’re back there and then it’s a little bit different when you’re taking the snap from the center or shotgun or under center, regardless. But I thought he did a nice job.”


Did you breathe a sigh of relief that he didn’t get hurt during the softball game the other day?

“No. I didn’t know about it, Mary Kay and I think I mentioned the other day, but if I didn’t get a phone call, probably wasn’t very serious.”


How have you seen Deshaun progress? And, you know, the offense has changed right this offseason. So given what he’s been able to do, how have you seen it progress and then how key is being able to be out there for seven-on-seven in that development?

“Yeah, I think all of it’s a process and I think he’s doing a nice job. We cover a lot of ground in the meeting rooms. These guys will tell you they spend a lot of time together in the meeting room. So he’s working very hard in there. Obviously, he’s done everything in his power from a rehab standpoint, and he’s doing everything that he’s allowed to do. When the doctors and trainers tell us we can progress, we progress. And so he’s been a good patient, I guess, in that regard. But he continues to make strides both in the building, in the weight room, out here on the grass.”


Kevin, what have you seen of (Jameis) Winston? What are your impressions of him?

“Yeah, Jameis is doing a nice job. Another guy who’s in early, out late, works very hard at his craft. He’s been in different systems, maybe not a ton of systems, but he’s played a lot of football, both as a starter and as a backup. So he brings a ton of experience and I think he’s doing a really nice job for us.”


Deshaun mentioned that he is actually going to take the guys off campus again and do what he does every year and do a little passing camp…

“I was not invited, if that’s the question.”


How do you feel about the fact that, you know, they’ll get some good work in between now and training camp?

“Yeah, you know, we’re so focused on this week, but as you do look ahead. I mean, it’s so important that these guys continue to work at their craft, and sometimes that’s going to be a workout for a day. Sometimes it’s going to be working out and throwing with your teammates and that type of thing. But everything is leading up to training camp and obviously leading up to the season. But what they do and how they do that, we’ll work together with them.”


I know Harrison Bryant didn’t catch a bunch of passes, but he seemed important for your team. I guess a little thin at tight end, you think?

“I wouldn’t characterize it that way, Jeff (Schudel). We like the guys we have. Obviously, Harrison did a lot of things for us over the years, and there are certainly candidates on our roster that will ask to do those things.”


(Cedric) Tillman’s gotten a lot of reps in OTAs and today and will continue it looks like. What do you make of him in the second year?

“Very excited about Ced. You know, guys come into the league in different stages of their maturation, whether it’s as a person or as a player. I think Ced continues to get better physically, and I do think just the things that he does in our offense, he’s one year more comfortable in everything we’re doing. So he’s had a really nice offseason.”


Kevin, we saw Jack Conklin. That’s the first time we’ve seen him actually out here. So what kind of progress is he making, and when do you think he’ll be ready? Do you have an idea?

“Yeah, I don’t have a timetable for you, Dan (Labbe), other than to say again, another guy who’s attacking rehab, doing everything in his power, doing a nice job in the weight room, and then getting him out here, obviously, is a big deal just to be around his teammates. But he’s doing everything that we’re asking of him, including doing a great job in the meeting room.”


Does it look like Dawand Jones is all the way back?

“Yeah, he’s taking reps right now, so he’s like all of our players, you know, I hesitate to say where people are and, in their rehab, sometimes you’re practicing as part of your rehab. So he’s progressing nicely.”


Can you talk about where Joel (Bitonio) and Jed (Jedrick Wills) are? They’re working outside today.

“Sure. I think for me, I don’t have an update on where everybody is, timetables. I can’t tell you that. I can tell you the guys are in here. They’re working hard. Everybody’s on a different injury that all occurred at different spots, so that they’re doing everything that is asked of them.”


You said the next step for Deshaun is throwing to the team. Is that Thursday, or is that probably more likely?

“It’s more training camp. The way the rules are written, as you guys know, it’s hard to have team drills in the offseason, so we really are heavy on the seven-on-seven. But I guess my point is, as you come back from any injury, you ramp guys up, even in practice.”


How do you help him keep perspective? I’m sure he wants to do everything all at once and like, the way he’s used to doing it. How do you help him keep perspective, that it’s a long process?

“Yeah, that’s a good question, and it’s a good point. I mean, I think all of us, when we’re going through something like that, always want to get to the next mile marker, if you will. But he’s doing a nice job staying present, being where his feet are, even all those reps that he hasn’t been getting, he’s getting them mentally. He’s standing right behind the quarterback. He’s getting those both on the field. Then in the meeting room, he’s watching tape on his own. So, he’s using every advantage to getting himself ready that he can.”


Kevin, how difficult is it to change from the offense you had last year to some of the stuff that (Ken) Dorsey is bringing in?

“You know, I think there’s a natural evolution every single season that you better be changing because these defense coordinators are so good. So, there’s a natural thing that happens every year for all of our players. Obviously, with Coach Dorsey [he] brings in different elements that we’re going to lean into, but I think all of our players are used to that year-to-year where nothing stays the same.”


Is it more challenging with all the pre-snap kind of motion stuff?

“There are definitely parts of our offense that we’re challenging our players with. And, yeah, you can’t snap your finger and just get it. You have to really work hard and study at it, whether it’s formational, whether it’s a play here or there, personnel, it’s all the above, but it’s definitely a challenge for our guys and by design.”


Off that, players seem rather enthused about this new offense, over the weekend I think David (Njoku) called it ‘juicy’. Just how have you seen these guys on that side of the ball respond to the adjustments that you and Ken (Dorsey) are putting in?

“They’re doing a nice job. Again, I go back to what Terry (Pluto) was asking, we’re trying to challenge our players. Each year you change and then sometimes maybe it’s percentage points one way or the other, more or less, but there’s definitely new things that the guys have to study, have to work at. We’re adding to certain areas of our offense, so this offseason is really designed to bring them up to speed. And I wish there was a way to plug it into the back of your head like The Matrix, but there’s not so, you got to spend time here in the meeting rooms, you got to spend time here out in the field, and that’s what we’ve been doing even on this break they’re going to have to spend time with it. That’s just the natural part of getting to learn anything new in either of the systems and I tell you, with Jim (Schwartz) and the defense, we’re doing some different things that guys have to work at.”


I assume you’re not ready to say who’s in the call plays yet, but my question is, even though Ken (Dorsey) is implementing a lot of stuff, it’s probably stuff you’ve seen, been familiar with before. Would you feel 100% comfortable calling the new offense even as much as he would?

“Yeah, I mean, and I think it goes back to guys like the idea that this is the Cleveland Browns offense. It’s not mine, it’s not Ken’s, it’s not really any one player. It’s really all of us get together, put the heads together in that meeting room upstairs, and we put our offense together. So, I think all of us, multiple people should be comfortable calling plays.”


Kevin on the defensive side, why is Jeremiah (Owusu-Koramoah) such a good fit in this scheme?

“Yeah, the ability to run, the ability to hit, make play sideline to sideline, utilize his speed just over the course of time. Just watching Jeremiah as a rookie to now, I do think he’s another player that has come a long way. He’s always possessed some incredible physical gifts, but the game has slowed down for him in some ways, and I’d give a ton of credit to Jeremiah, and I give a ton of credit to coach (Jason) Tarver. I think those guys have worked hand in hand over the years to really slow this game down for Jeremiah.”


When you’re collaborating with Deshaun (Watson), Ken Dorsey, and figuring out exactly what the offense is going to be, getting everybody up to speed, do you sense any kind of bonus or benefit from Deshaun essentially having roots and a lot of the stuff that Ken (Dorsey’s) bringing?

“Yeah, you’re saying roots in New England (Patriots) type system. That’s a good question. You know, there are a lot of plays in football like we’ve talked about and they all work. I like them all. For us, it’s like focusing in on the plays that make the most sense for our roster. And obviously your quarterback is front of mind so, there are definitely things that we’ve taken from Deshaun’s days in Houston. Definitely things that Dors (Ken Dorsey) has done over his time with coach Dabes (Brian Dabollthat maybe are cousins to what we’re doing now.”


We saw three or four different kickoff return combinations back there, and I know Bubba (Ventrone) has mentioned he’s probably going to want to try everybody out there.

“Myles (Garrett) raised his hand last night.”


Did he really? In all seriousness, how much input or conversation are you having with what Bubba is trying to come up there or are you just allowing Bubba to do his thing.

“No, I mean, quite a bit. And this is new for everybody, it’s new for Bubba, it’s new for me, it’s new for our players. So, we’re trying to work through all of those things. There were some ideas that we had about the play that we thought, and then you watch the guys run it live and maybe you feel a little bit differently. So, it’s something that is definitely going to be evolving. I talked about it earlier this week, you’ll see it in the preseason. It’ll be a new play for all viewers, we’ll all see it and it’ll just look different like these things do. And then you’re even going to have to wait for that Thursday night and that Friday night game just to see, ‘All right, well, people are holding things back in the preseason now what does it look like?’ So there’s still things that we are working through and are curious about just like everybody else. But we know the rules, we know there’s got to be two returners in the landing zone, so we’ll work through all the details as we go.”


I know it’s tough with D-linemen at this stage in the offseason, but when you look at the guys you have, did you drop back and then you add Mike Hall, and you add Quinton (Jefferson), how good do you feel about that?

“Yeah, I do feel good. Coach Jacques (Cesaire) and Jordan Thomas do an outstanding job with that group. It’s a deep group. Like you mentioned, it’s a competitive group. I like how those guys practice, how they work. You know, if your roster is built where you have strength like that at a position and it’s competitive to make the football team, that’s a good thing.”


Is coach (Mike) Vrabel subjected to fines too?

“Yes, I’ll confirm that one. Vrabes (Mike Vrabel) is getting fined.”


Is Myles (Garrett) going to get a chance to run some returns?

“Tune in.”


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