Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (9.22.21)


Opening statement:

“Good to see everybody. Not practicing today, Jed (LT Jedrick Wills Jr.), (LB Sione) Takitaki and (T) Chris Hubbard. Big week this week with the Bears coming into our place. Two 1-1 football teams. Have a ton of respect for this coaching staff. I know a bunch of their coaches. They are really well-coached. It is a dominant defense. It is a physical defense. They are big. They play strong. (Defensive coordinator) Coach (Sean) Desai is doing a really nice job with that scheme. Offensively, they are going to give you a lot of things and a lot of pre-snap movement. I know you saw the news on the quarterback playing, and he (Bears QB Justin Fields) is a really good player. He is dynamic. He can make plays with his feet and can make plays certainly with his arm. A very productive player from college. At special teams, I think they are a good special teams unit, coached by Coach (Bears special teams coordinator Chris) Tabor. Really looking forward to the challenge and starting that work week with Wednesday’s practice.”


On an update on WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s status for Sunday:

“No update. We will see how he progresses this week, but I expect him to be full go today at practice.”


On if the plan is for Beckham to play Sunday:

“The plan is to practice Wednesday and see how it goes this week, but I am not ruling him out.”


On if this will be the first time Beckham is ‘a full go’ at practice this season:

“I would have to check.”


On QB Baker Mayfield’s tackle last Sunday and it being another indication of Mayfield’s competitiveness:

“Yeah, you guys heard me say it many times, he is a very competitive player. He is a very competitive person. He is fiery. The tackle itself, obviously, we want to get him on the ground without getting hurt so that is a learning lesson obviously. His teammates respond to him, and certainly in moments where he is gutting things out and he is showing his toughness, I think your teammates respond to that.”


On if Mayfield will be a full participant in practice today:

“I will have to see how it goes.”


On what he wants Mayfield to do in the situation of making a tackle following an interception like last Sunday:

“You have to prevent a score. Any quarterback, the way we have taught them is that they have to No. 1 turn the ball back inside – he did that – and then you have to get him on the ground. There are different techniques that you can use. That was kind of an awkward play. I think their defender looked to single him out, which listen, he is trying to get him on the ground so you become defenseless in that moment. We have to get him on the ground, whether it is the quarterback or the receiver or the running back, whomever. If the ball is going the other way, you have to get him on the ground.”


On Mayfield blocking on select plays:

“Sometimes you run those plays, and you are telling the quarterback, ‘Hey, really you just have to get this thing started in case somebody…’ It is not like he is not getting lead blocking tips from (run game coordinator/running backs coach) Stump Mitchell (laughter).”


On if it is a fine line of not taking the competitiveness out of Mayfield but also protecting the starting QB:

“Yes. Yes, we do not want to take the competitiveness out of this but do not foresee him as a lead blocker very often.”


On how to better defend a mobile QB like Fields, given Texans QB Tyrod Taylor’s success in the first half last week:

“We are going to have a challenge this week, like you mentioned. Rush and coverage have to work together. We have to be sticky in coverage, and we have to be true to our rush lanes. Ultimately, when you are in a location to get a player like Justin Fields on the ground or Tyrod Taylor, you have to get him on the ground. It is really not a one-person job; it really takes all 11.”


On evaluating Fields on tape:

“Dynamic. He made plays with his arm. He had a nice throw into the end zone there in one of those drives. Made plays with his feet late. There is no shortage of things they can do with him, and I am sure now with a full week of practice they can expand upon that.”


On if Beckham will have a pitch count on Sunday, if available, given that has been the course of action for other players returning from injury:

“I would have to think back if everybody is on a pitch count. I think we just have to be smart. With any player coming off of an injury, we try to be very mindful of what that player and where he is and then make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Specific to Odell, if he plays in the game, I can’t tell you if there would be a pitch count or not. I really would not know.”


On if WR Rashard Higgins will receive more opportunities with WR Jarvis Landry on injured reserve:

“Like anything, you do not replace Jarvis, but guys have to step up and those opportunities will go elsewhere. It remains to be seen who gets those opportunities, but certainly, you lose a player of Jarvis’s caliber, you have to have guys who step up.”


On Bears LB Khalil Mack often lining up on the right side of the offense and if that is beneficial to have Mack opposite of T Jack Conklin as opposed to Wills, who is recovering from injury:

“(Bears LB) Robert Quinn is a pretty good rusher on the other side. That defense plays right and left. It is something that they have done there for a long time so you have (Bears DT) Akiem Hicks on the right and Khalil Mack on the right. They do a nice job. It is a really good scheme. Coach Desai has been there for a long time under (former NFL coach) Chuck Pagano and (Broncos Head) Coach (Vic) Fangio so you see elements of that. It is Coach Desai’s third game so we would expect to see something that we have not seen to date.”


On what he likes about running 13 personnel:

“It goes back to so much discussion about versatility. I think when you have multiple tight ends on the field, it can be advantageous to the offense to align them in different spots so the defense can’t hear 13 personnel and go through the mental check of it is definitely going to be this formation because it can multiple formations. I think we are fortunate to have guys who can line up in different spots and can excel at different spots.”


On what boost Beckham’s potential return could give the Browns, particularly with Landry on injured reserve:

“We will see how it goes, but Odell has been great out here at practice. He is working really hard. He has a ton of reps between just him and Baker. He has gotten a ton of reps in seven on seven and the team drills. I think the guys recognize that he is a dynamic football player.”


On if the hope and expectation is that that Wills will be able to practice at some point this week:

“I do.”


On what makes Mack so challenging and how much of a factor Mack is to the Bears having a dominant defense:

“He is a huge part of it. Having faced him a bunch of times when I was with the Vikings, just the combination of speed and power, his bend, he plays hard and he is good against the run and good against the pass. He is an outstanding football player.”


On the biggest challenge of practicing in the field house today due to weather:

“We get it done. It is obviously not a 100-yard field. Just kind of close quarters, but we get it done.”


On if patience is required with the Browns defense given the new acquisitions:

“I think certainly with young players you are going to have some growing pains – offense, defense and special teams. Listen, we want to make sure that we are playing good sound defensive football. We have done that at a bunch of moments and then there are some moments that we just have to clean up. We recognize that, and the players and coaches are working hard to make sure that we get better as the season goes on.”


On if too many of the moments that need to be cleaned up happened on third down:

“Yeah, I think that is obvious that we have to do a better job on third down.”


On if the Browns areas for improvement on defense are all based on technique:

“No, it is never one thing, and when you say technique, it sounds like you are saying it was the players fault so that is not the case. We need to do a better job as a team – coaches and players. We just have to do a better job.”


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