S M.J. Stewart (12.28.21)

On how he has been able to make a strong impact on the team in recent weeks:

“That is just kind of just how my whole career has been, just being ready to take advantage of any opportunity I get.”


On his mindset when learning he would have a significant role on defense in the past two games:

“The only thing that came to my mind was ‘it is my time now.’ That is literally the only thing, and just take advantage of this opportunity. With football, you never know how many opportunities you are going to get. You do not know when your next one is coming so any opportunity you get, you have to take full advantage of it. That is all I told myself.”


On the reaction from Browns teammates and if they have been ‘egging him on’:

“I would not say they are ‘egging me on.’ We all believe in each other. We all know what each other can do. When somebody gets their time and they do what they are supposed to do and make plays, we are all happy for each other.”


On his versatility and the source of it:

“It is kind of like a pride thing. I just felt like in college I played a lot of positions. I played corner. I played nickel. The last time I played safety was in high school honestly, but it is a position that I am going into now, and I like it, too. I just take pride in being versatile.”


On the learning curve when transitioning to S:

“I have always kind of been a smart player. It was really mental, just making sure I knew all of the checks and everything like that. It is kind of different footwork, but going from corner and nickel to safety, if you have corner feet at safety, it is a good thing because you can get in and out of your breaks.”


On how playing special teams helped him stay ready for the enhanced role on defense:

“It was kind of one of those things, like I said before, when you get your opportunity, take full advantage of it. Whether that is defense, special teams or whatever it is, I just try to take advantage of any opportunity and every opportunity I get on that field.”


On the Browns defense playing well in recent weeks, including when missing several players, with an opportunity to make the playoffs:

“Our defense, we are a very special group. We really gel together. We take pride in that. Getting some of the guys back is a great thing. We are happy for them, but when guys get their shot, we have to keep that standard. We set a standard over this year of how we play defense over here at the Browns. Whenever or whoever gets the opportunity, it is kind of like there is no second string. It is like everybody is first-string caliber, and everybody is ready to step up and make plays when it is their time.”


On if there was a specific point in the season when the Browns defense started to ‘gel’:

“It is kind of one of those things that just kind of happens over time. I can’t really pinpoint a specific moment where that happened, but just over the course of the season… Training camp we are here 24/7 football, we get that gel and we start gelling then, and when the season comes along, you learn how everybody plays, you learn who does what the best and you learn everybody’s attributes. Once you can do that, you can learn how to play around people and play with people.”   


On CB Denzel Ward’s performance this season and Ward’s value to the Browns defense:

“I am so happy for Denzel. I am so happy for him. He has put together a tremendous season. He has always been a lock-down corner, and he is proving it again. He is a big asset to this team because he really can shut down one side of the field. I am just happy to have him. Like I said, I am so happy for him and the season he is having.”


On what would it mean get a win over the Steelers in what could be the final home game of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s career, especially given Roethlisberger’s record against the Browns:

“Our focus is just going 1-0, honestly. Everybody knows what this game means to us. We really can’t speak on what it means to the Steelers, but we know how important this game is for us and here at the Browns. We are just trying to focus on going 1-0 this week.”


On recollections from the playoff win at Pittsburgh last season:

“It was fun. It was fun. It was a rollercoaster for sure, but it was fun. Like I said, just getting a chance to put your skills on display, being out there with guys, just having fun and making plays, you live for moments like that when you are a football player.”


On where the standard of Browns players stepping up when needed derives:

“When you have your starters, I guess I can say they play a style of defense, and you see that. When one of them goes down and it is next man up, you do not want to be the guy to let everybody down. You do not want to be the person to be a letdown. You want to keep that same standard and keep that same intensity that the starter would. That is just the culture that we have built around here, and like I said, everybody believes in everybody.”


On the impact of DE Myles Garrett fighting through a groin injury at Green Bay:

“It is Week 17. At this point, everybody is hurt in the season. For our leader to be fighting through an injury and still giving it his all, it is like, ‘Why can’t we all do that?’ If Myles can do it, then we all can do it.”


On if he heard about Pro Football Hall of Fame QB Troy Aikman praising him during the TV broadcast on Saturday:

“I did. Actually, somebody texted me this morning and told me. I did not even know. My uncle actually texted me this morning and said that.”


On why he is so good at making open-field tackles:

“Why am I so good at it? I do not know. I just run and hit, honestly (laughter). I just run and hit for real. When you have those open field tackles, it is really one on one, and it is mono y mono. It is either you win or they win, and I want to win all of the time. That is really all I can say about that (laughter).”


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