Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (7.30.21)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement:

“Good seeing everybody. First of all, best wishes to (Indians manager) Tito (Francona) on a speedy recovery. We are thinking about him.”


On if WR Higgins will be back at practice today after sustaining an ankle injury:

“He is going to try and go.”


On the status of CB Troy Hill and S Richard LeCounte III:

“Good to go.”


On what makes G Joel Bitonio a dominant NFL OL and a leader for the Browns, given Bitonio sometimes gets overlooked with many high-profile players on the team:

“He does a great job. I do not know if he ever gets overlooked by me, though. We count on him. Really great teammate. Always shows up and works his butt off. A great combination of size, power and foot quickness. A really good player for a really long time.”


On how Bitonio and T Jedrick Wills Jr. can improve in their second year playing together:

“There is a ton of communication that goes on along the lines. From left tackle to left guard – obviously, everything runs through the center – so with those guys one more year under their belt, practices under their belt and walkthroughs, there is so much communication that over the course of time, you acquire knowledge about each other and then you can use that when the season rolls around.”


On if there is value in having a player like Bitonio who has been with the team for several years and has experienced tough times with the organization:

“I just got here last year so it is hard for me to comment necessarily. Joel has had a great career to this point – many, many years left. In terms of what he has been through, he is just a rock-solid person. I think he means a lot to his teammates.”


On if the Browns had any idea this time last year the type of player they had in G Wyatt Teller:

“Yeah, I would say we were excited about working with Wyatt. We saw the skillset, the motor that he plays with and the nastiness he plays with. I know (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan was excited.”


On if anything about Teller and Teller’s play surprised him:

“Not really, just because I did not have a ton of preconceived notions. You watch the tape and you see where you think there is a fit in how we play and what we do so we saw it there. I think we were pleased with the year Wyatt has, but he knows he has to get a lot better like all of us do.”


On if Teller starting as a DL in college factors into his mentality on the field:

“I think there is. I do. We have a rookie from Cincinnati (James) Hudson (III) was a defensive lineman. I think there is something to it. There is a nastiness that those guys play with along the trenches.”


On if Hudson will get reps at G during training camp:

“We will see. With all of these rookies, we have a plan with them, whether you are talking about playing left and then playing right and then do you move them inside. We likely eventually will get there, but not going to start there.”


On RB Demetric Felton playing both RB and WR and where Felton can be a best fit in the offense:

“It remains to be seen. I think the kid is a football player. To be able to do that day in and day out says a lot about his ability to learn, his ability to think quickly and break the huddle. When you are the halfback, sometimes it is pretty easy when you break the huddle you know where to line up. When you are playing receiver, you are bouncing all around the formation. He has done a great job for us, and we will continue to see what fits with him. Until then, he is just putting good football on tape.”


On what he does to make sure players who are up for contract extensions are not letting those situations be distractions or affect their jobs:

“Our guys are professionals. When you are in the building and you are between the white lines, you have a job to do. Everybody has agents – I have one – so you let them do their jobs. We focus on what is going on on the field and in the meeting rooms.”


On if he tells the team to focus on the work and everything will take care of itself in terms of contracts:

“I do, but I give that globally all of the time so not in reference to that.”


On big picture discussions with Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry about a contract extension for QB Baker Mayfield:

“We have a ton of conversations up and down the roster. For every one of those conversations between Andrew and I, we also bounce ideas off of our staff and off of the personnel. With regards to any player and how they are part of the future, there is a lot of good dialogue that goes on and that continues to go on.”


On if he has anything special planned for the fans today, including using a mic to address them:

“Not planning on it unless you want to grab the mic. You can do that.”


On if he is looking forward to hearing fans chant his name and ‘Super Bowl’:

“I am here to work.”


On if he agrees with G Joel Bitonio that DT Jordan Elliott improved his physique in the offseason and looks quicker:

“Yeah, I have. Jordan did a nice job. He is a young player, and he is continuing to come along. He is very coachable. If (defensive line) Coach Kiff (Chris Kiffin), asks him to do something, he is going to try and do it exactly how he is asked. He is working at it. He has a long way to go. He is a young player, but excited about his future.”


On if Elliott has lived up to draft expectations during his play last year:

“Yeah, I think we were excited when we got him and then you saw glimpses of it. For young players, it is hard to immediately show everything you have in Year 1, but the kid gave us some valuable reps and we have to build off that.”


On CB Denzel Ward adding some weight in the offseason:

“He did. I am glad you mentioned Denzel. He did a great job. He really is in a good spot physically. I think that is a credit to Denzel obviously, first and foremost, but it is a credit to the strength staff to (director of performance nutrition) Katy (Meassick) our nutritionist. They had a plan, and he has really stuck to it. Over the course of 17 games, you always have to think about how you are physically so I know that weight is a number, but it is really about lean muscle mass, it is how he is eating and all of those type of things. He takes it very seriously. I was proud of how he came in this season.”


On considerations to take with an extra regular season game this year:

“It has definitely been part of our discussions on a lot of things as we plan out this season and training camp. You just have to be mindful of it. That is on average 65 extra snaps on a guy. It is another practice week on players. We just have to be really intentional about how we put our schedule together with that in mind.”


On the impact of the 17-game season:

“Like I said, we talked about it when it first passed and had good conversations with our strength staff and with our sports science staff and kind of talked about what we wanted to do. Again, how we have to be intentional about those conversations and what makes sense. You do not want to say ‘Alright, we are going to rest everybody for a week.’ We have to have those conversations and think what makes sense so we will continue to do that. We are trying to do that both in training camp and really throughout the season.”


On if WR Donovan Peoples-Jones needed a breakout moment to show he was ready last season:

“Most rookies, there is a learning curve. (T) Jed (Jedrick Wills Jr.) obviously was in there play No. 1 and started the whole season, but I would say that is pretty rare across the league. Once you get out of that first-round top-15 guys, you typically have guys who you are working into the lineup and their roles grow throughout the season. I think Donovan is a great example of that. Again, a really smart player, a conscientious kid who we could put in there and trust him to do the job. He certainly earned our trust over the course of time.”


On if he ever wondered how Peoples-Jones fell to the Browns in the sixth round:

“Andrew and his staff do a great job.”


On if he or special teams coordinator Mike Priefer talked to K Cody Parkey after yesterday’s special teams period with multiple missed kicks:

“It is Day 1, and there are going to be many, many opportunities over the course of time. Sometimes you are off and then you get an opportunity a couple of days coming up. I would not look too much into it.”


On if he is excited to hold practice in front of fans for the first time:

“Yeah, it is fun. I think there will definitely be some juice out here for the guys. I know the players will enjoy it. They enjoy being applauded (laughter). There certainly will be an element to that. I am excited to see it. First time for me. I have been part of training camps where we have the fans in there, and I can just tell you that the oohs and the ahs, the players definitely feed off of it.”


On if the Vikings had good crowds at training camp:

“Yeah, the Vikings had good crowds. I was at the Eagles in 2005. They had amazing crowds. It is fun. I know it is a limited space different than past years, but I know that our fans will be extra loud over there.”


On if his dad, Ed Stefanski, senior advisor to owner Tom Gores, is happy about the Pistons drafting Cade Cunningham:

“Yeah, they are excited. I am excited for the Pistons. Excited for the home team (Cavaliers), as well, getting a pretty good player themselves.”


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