LB Malcolm Smith (12.15.21)

On the concern that the Browns may have to place additional players on the reserve/COVID-19 list tomorrow and uncertainty around who will be available on Saturday:

“It is probably likely that we will. I think if you are preparing for the worst, you do expect somebody to be positive tomorrow. We decided kind of that everybody is a starter this week. Everybody has to prepare like a starter. That is how you should be preparing all year so you will be in even better if you have.”


On the mood of the Browns right now when facing the adversity of a number of players on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“I do not think kind of the ‘quitter’ mentality makes it to the NFL. Obviously, it is challenging to lose people. You do not know who, when, where or how it is being transmitted and stuff like that, but we have a lot of guys who love to compete. Obviously, other guys when you get opportunities, there have been guys who have been waiting for opportunities all year long so this is just a great opportunity to show how deep we are as a team and how resilient we can be. We have an awesome chance to go out and play a playoff game, essentially.”


On the benefits of having a veteran player like QB Case Keenum available and other Browns veterans to provide depth:

“That is something that you recognize when you practice in August is the depth of your team. We are deep talent-wise. We have veterans in the depth positions who can play the game. I am looking forward to seeing Case sling it a little bit.”


On if the team recognizes Saturday’s game is essentially like a playoff game:



On how the Browns coaching staff helps the team navigate adversity:

“We have been doing it a lot. I think they understand the situation of you never know who is going to be available when you go into the week. Obviously, there are injuries every week in the NFL, but on top of that to have COVID, I think even when you build a team, you have to consider that there will be a lot of moving parts. As far as our scheme goes and our practice rotations go, we have always kind of used everyone.”


On the team’s next man up mentality and if that starts with Stefanski and carries to the rest of the team:

“Of course. COVID is rampant around the league, and we all understand that you might be thrust into a role with very little reps. Our coaches say it all the time, ‘This might be the only time you get this look is in a walkthrough so take it seriously,’ or you might see someone else taking that rep, and you have to know it yourself. The understanding has always been there. Like I said, I know what it is like to be in a backup position, be eager to play, having to stay prepared and be willing to make the most of your opportunities. I think a lot of guys in that position are looking forward to it.”


On the challenge of possibly not having a full practice this week:

“We had a chance to walkthrough outside so we are alright. At this point in the season – I do not even know what week it is – it is a lot less physical than you might think. You need the looks, you need to see what things are happening and you need to see the timing of things, and a lot of times you do not even get that at this point in the season full speed because games come up so quickly. As long as we get to do something and we are communicating, even if we are doing it on Zoom, it is better than last minute. Hopefully, we do not have anything pop up the night before the game, but we are in that position now to prepare everybody for that happening.”


On the Raiders offense:

“They do a lot. They do a lot well. They run the ball well. They are committed to it. They have a really talented back. I think the world of (Raiders QB) Derek Carr. He is extremely capable of doing everything. He does stuff at the line of scrimmage. He can get the ball to his receivers, play-action, take shots and all of that. They have (Raiders WR Hunter) Renfrow and (Raiders TE Darren) Waller, D-Jack (Raiders WR DeSean Jackson) is still rolling and (Raiders TE Foster) Moreau. They have a lot of depth. They are leading the league in air yardage for a reason. They have some YAC, too. We definitely have a big challenge this week, but happy to have them coming into our stadium.”


On if the Browns defense feels capable of leading the team this week, given its strong performance in recent weeks:

“Yeah, most definitely. I think on defense, you should always have that mentality, but yeah, I think we are ready to do that.”


On how the Browns’ experience last season winning a game in the AFC Divisional Round against the Steelers without Head Coach Kevin Stefanski available benefits the team this week:

“We have been through it before so we have some experience with it, but obviously, we still have to go out and perform. Whoever is stepping into the position will have to manage the clock and understand the game, but this is what coaches do all day long. They can’t wait for this opportunity, as well, to be able to step into that role and execute because this is a team game. I am not really worried about that. Coaches do not play so it is not physical; it is all mental for them. If they can be locked in, I think we will be just fine. I think Coach Stefanski has made a clear message to the entire team and staff about how we operate so I would not expect anything too different.”


On the team’s mindset and sense of urgency going into Saturday’s game, given the significance of it:

“I personally play every game like it is a must-win game. I think that anybody who competes at that level gives themselves the best chance to win. I do not like to go back and forth about ‘this one is more important than the last one’ because you never know what is next, and you are thinking about the past or you are thinking about the future. For us, this is the biggest game we have because it is the next game – as boring as that sounds (laughter).”


On DE Myles Garrett’s comments about the team’s focus last week and Garrett following it up with a strong performance against the Ravens in Week 14:

“Myles goes out, and he plays at an elite level. He is an elite talent. I did not really see the message that you said of what he said before to be honest with you so I do not really know what you are talking about. He is all-world. He went out, and he executed at a high level. When he plays like that, we can really take it to the next level.”


On Garrett’s strip-sack and fumble-return TD last week:

“Those are the type of plays that he is capable of making a lot. I actually said it to him earlier in the week. I was like, ‘Man, we need a defensive touchdown because I think that will really help.’ I saw it, and obviously, in his case for individual awards but it definitely helped the team, I am glad he got it done. He did it. We spoke about it, and he did it right away – no waste of time.”


On if he believes the NFL should postpone this week’s game against the Raiders, given the number of Browns players on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“No. I would rather knock the games out to be honest with you. We have the game on the schedule this week. Let’s go out, and if we have enough guys to play it, we have to play it. I do not see why waiting or moving it. ‘Oh, maybe it will be better it will be better later.’ Who knows? It could get worse. Let’s play the game.”


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