OC Alex Van Pelt (10.15.20)

Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt:

On how QB Baker Mayfield looked throwing yesterday and how Mayfield is progressing with his injury:

“Yeah, I did not get the chance to see him [throw]. That was after practice with the training staff. I know he is feeling better just talking to him today. I did catch him in the training room this morning so things are feeling better. He is trending in the right direction.”

 

On if he has sensed a ‘quiet confidence’ in the building, given LB B.J. Goodson’s comment about it:

“Yeah I think so. I think this is a group of guys that love to work. They love the process of the week that entails each day, learning the system each day, learning the game plan and then going out putting the work in at practice.  I think when you do that and your preparation is tight, then you do have a sense of confidence going into each game.”

 

On WR Odell Beckham Jr. being sent home with an illness today and how confident he is that someone else can step up if Beckham is not able to play this week:

“First and foremost, obviously being very cautious in today’s COVID world. Sending him home for the day, I think obviously is what we had to do there. Hopefully, it is just something that goes away quickly and it is nothing that is long term and we get him back as soon as possible. As far as guys stepping up, I think it is kind of the theme of the year for us right now. We have had guys step up at every position on the offensive side, especially top of my head (T Chris) Hubbard coming in and playing hard and playing extremely well when (G) Wyatt (Teller) went out; (WR Rashard) Higgins coming in and playing when (WR KhaDarel) Hodge went out and catching a touchdown pass; and (RB) D’Ernest (Johnson) coming in when (RB) Nick (Chubb) went down. That is kind of the mindset around here. It is next man up mentality. The coaching staff does a great job of getting those guys ready, no matter if you are a starter or backup.”

 

On if he is comfortable with Beckham playing Sunday, even if Beckham misses significant practice time:

“Yeah, I know Odell will do a great job of preparation. That is the big part is just making sure you are up with all the changes in the gameplan and all the little tweaks and nuances of the gameplan each week. I know he will do a great job of preparing. He will still be meeting situations, just not in person as he heals up. I expect him if he is available to be ready to go and play well, as he always does.”

 

On the challenge Steelers OLB Bud Dupree poses for T Jedrick Wills Jr.:

“It is a great one. It really is. Jed has been playing really well and at a high level from the start of the season. That is just a different type of pass rusher now, a guy with tremendous speed and speed to power off that edge. It will just be another guy he will get a chance to face. I know he is up for the challenge, and it will be a great test for him come Sunday.”

 

On G Joel Bitonio’s comment that Wills is quiet during the week and then shows up prepared and executes well on gameday:

“Yeah, I think that is just his personality. He is not super vocal, but I know he is very smart, and (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan and (assistant offensive line) Coach (Scott) Peters do a great job of getting him ready every week. He has played well, like I said. I expect him to go out, and it will be a hell of a challenge for him. He knows that, and we are looking forward to seeing what happens.”

 

On game planning to counter the Steelers pass rush and if the team has to remove some plays from its playbook for the week:

“There are definitely things you do not want to put yourself in situations that expose their strengths. That is definitely part of the deal going in. Some of the things will do will be a little bit different. We definitely are aware of those guys and we are aware of that front. That is a very good front with the power that they have inside and the speed they have on the outside. That is a great challenge for us. We definitely tweak the game plan each week based on our matchups across the board.”

 

On Hubbard’s versatility and ability to play any position on the OL:

“It is huge. It is a tribute to him. Obviously, he puts the work in going from tackle and playing a ton of reps at guard. I am sure he can play center if we needed him to, as well. He is a great teammate and a great pro. He prepares himself each week, and it shows up. His number was called, he stepped in and he has played well at both spots.”

 

On TE Austin Hooper and Hooper’s impact in the run game:

“Those tight ends, especially Hoop, in the run game have been good. The things that we ask him to do, sometimes it is dirty work, and he accepts that. We had a play last week where we had him just doing some work on the edge in the chip capacity, helping out the protection, and he ends up catching the ball and getting a big first down for us that led to a scoring drive. He is valuable. We use him in a lot of different ways in protection and the pass game and obviously the run blocking. He has done a hell of a job this year.”

 

On how the Steelers DL affects what the Browns offense does with the wide-zone scheme and Mayfield’s bootlegs:

“They make it tough to run the bootlegs on keepers. They do a great job of protecting those edges on the outside plays. It will be a challenge for us, no question. We have to be good at the point of attack. If we do and when we do run the wide zone, we have to be great at the point of attack. They do a nice job of trying to close everything in but we are going to have to strain to get those runs off of the wide zone.”

On if the Steelers pass rush means Mayfield has to be better in the pocket and how Mayfield has developed and performed in the pocket:

“I think he has been very good to this point. He does a great job of creating when things are not there within his time clock. He has done a good job of extending plays and moving outside of the pocket. That is just part of his game. That is nothing new for us.”

On what WR Jarvis Landry showed with his ability to come back after taking a big hit last week, if that impacted Landry’s two drops in the second half and Landry’s status this week:

“That was a big shot he took there on an explosive play. He did a heck of a job, ran a great route and then got hit as he was going down. Jarvis is one of the toughest guys on the team. There is no question about that. He was the captain last week for a reason. We knew that was going to be a tough, hard-hitting game and he fit right in. He took the shot there on the sideline, missed a few plays and then came back and still did some really, really good things in the pass game. The two drops, I am sure he will not tell you that it was due to the injury, but he would love to have those back. The things he did after the fact, the toughness in the run game, him going down and digging out guys and blocking down the field, that is the Jarvis that we all love. He is one of the toughest guys on the team for a reason, and he showed that on Sunday.”

On if he goes into this game needing contingency plans for both Landry and WR Odell Beckham Jr., given their status:

“Yeah, we have to be ready for anything. This is 2020. This is the [sixth week] now and it seems like it has been going on forever in 2020, but that is the way it goes. We will be able to adjust and adapt. That is part of the deal. Whatever Sunday brings, we will have guys ready to go, and we will play tough and hard.”

On key coaching points for Mayfield coming out of the Colts game, which Mayfield said was his worst individual performance of the season:

“Just going back to the game Sunday, really the one interception was the bad play on his part – the first one. The second one was more of an issue where you just needed a split second longer to get the ball out. He took a hit as he was throwing. He just needs to continue to make great decisions, which he has done minus the one play there in the second half. I have been very impressed with him so far. As he continues to grow within the season, just eliminating those big mistakes when we give the ball back to them. We feel like if we can control the ball, keep the ball, end the drive and kick of some sort, we are going to be in good shape.”

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