Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer (8.7.22)


Opening statement:

“Obviously, it is a nice warm day. It is going to be warm hopefully in Jacksonville. I think that really helps our team prepare. Yesterday was really warm. You saw guys towards the end of practice when we were doing our drill work on punt return, they really struggled a little bit so I keep telling them and the message to them is, ‘Look, you have to play fast, have got to play hard, you have to play with great technique and you have to know what to do, even when you are tired and it is hot,’ A lot of these guys have not played special teams in college so it has been a really good learning experience for them.”


On K Cade York missing his first FG attempt after converting his first 15 of training camp:

“It was a 58-yarder. He did not even hit it well. I am thinking as soon as he hit it, I am like, ‘It is not even close.’ Then I watched it on tape, and he darn near made it. He is very talented. He has obviously a big-time leg. You guys have seen that. Everybody’s concern was him kicking off prior to him getting here because he did not do it in college – there are no concerns, at least not on my end. I think he will do a great job for us and give us what we need in that department.”


On York’s strengths:

“He is really smart. He understands his craft. He is always trying to tweak it. I do not think he overthinks things. That is the really good thing about him. He is very confident in his ability. He has a lot of leg talent. That is all going to help him as he goes forward.”


On if the Browns will have York attempt 60-yard FGs this season, depending on the game situation:

“You already said it, it depends on the situation. It is the score, the time of game – first quarter, fourth quarter and anything in between. It really depends on where we are. If it is fourth-and-short, our Head Coach (Kevin Stefanski) will go for it. If it is fourth-and-long and we might punt it, maybe we punt it or maybe we kick the field goal. Again, it is all situation based. Does he have the talent to do it? Absolutely, I think so.”


On the importance of adding WR Jakeem Grant Sr. to the return game:

“I think it was extremely important. I have wanted to get Jakeem here the past couple of years. He has been free, and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) went out and got him. I am really happy about that. I think that is going to transform our return game. I think we have been solid – I know we have had this discussion before – and everybody worries about average, but I am more worried about field position and more concerned about getting yards. Even if a 5-yard return, 8-yard return, 7-yard return or whatever, the offense does not have to get those yards. It is not about average for me. It is about production, and it is about field position. I think Jakeem adds that element that we can get a big play with him because he is so talented.”


On Grant having the ability to avoid big hits and if there are any concerns about Grant getting time on offense and that potentially impacting his availability in the return game:

“He is our guy. He is a Cleveland Brown. If the Head Coach wants to use him on offense, use him on offense. He is way too talented to be standing next to me all of the time. I think he is a phenomenal returner. I do not think he takes the hits a lot of guys take because of his stature, but his quickness and his center of gravity, he has got great vision. (Former Bears WR-KR-PR) Devin Hester, one of his strengths – he was one of the greatest of all time in my opinion – he had that tremendous vision like most great returners have. I think Jakeem has that vision. He understands the game. He understands situational football. That is the element that he brings, along with his athletic ability.”


On the competition at P:

“Really good. We signed (P) Joe (Charlton) first back in February and then we got (P) Corey (Bojorquez) in free agency late-March or early-April. I think they are both very talented. There are things that they need to do to improve in terms of their get-off times, which they are both working on. They both had really good days yesterday. They pounded the ball. It was a nice day and had a little bit of wind behind them. butI think it is going very well. It is a good competition.”


On the Browns’ consistency in special teams coverage in recent years:

“I think it is want-to. It is attitude. It is effort. We do some things scheme-wise that help our guys out. I tell our players all of the time, my favorite coverage in the world is 5×5 base coverage, safeties at the ones and let’s go play ball. That is what we will do all preseason like everybody else to get our guys ready for the different type of returns they might see or the techniques, the fundamentals and drills that we always talk about. That is what we will do in the preseason. In the regular season, we will keep doing what we are doing. It is also about having the right guys on the roster, which Andrew and Kevin do a great job of helping us in that regard. We have good young players who love the game of football. I tell them all of the time, ‘There is something wrong with you in a good way if you are going to cover a kickoff in the NFL.’ I think there is something wrong with you if you want to coach special teams in the NFL, but that is another story (laughter). At the end of the day, I think we have the right guys in the right spots. I am excited about where we go from here.”


On if York’s performance in training camp or in game-situations during the regular season is most important to the evaluation:

“I think it is the competition. Philly when they come here, he will kick some field goals when they come here for (joint) practices. I think anytime you put a young player in a competitive situation, it is only going to help him going forward. The great thing about Cade is he is very confident. A lot of kickers, you have to kind of baby them a little bit and pamper them a little bit. ‘Do not hurt his psyche’ type thing. Cade is not like that at all. He is only 21 years old, which is incredible. He is very mature. He understands his craft. He is very smart. He is very confident. I think that is going to help here, especially in Cleveland.”


On if York has been working more at FirstEnergy Stadium since the offseason program:

“Unfortunately, I think they had a monster truck thing (Monster Jam) down there, and they have had some concerts. I do not even know who it is. Everybody thinks I know all of these people. I am a country music fan so I do not even know who these other guys are (laughter). I think there is a concert going on down there so we have not been able to get down there. In fact, we will not get down there until the Philly game – that will be the next time when we are in the stadium. We got him down there five or six times in the spring, which really helped him. He loved going down there. That helped he and the punters, as well, and the snapper.”


On a player like RB D’Ernest Johnson contributing on special teams and then earning the opportunity to produce on offense:

“I think we talked about it after the Denver game last year when D’Ernest had such a great game for us on offense. I love that. I am their biggest fan. When they transition from being a core special teams player, they play that at a high level and that is how they make the team and that is how they stick around, and then they are contributing on offense and defense, as well, and helping us win football games, that means the world to me. I love it. I absolutely love it. My children always accuse me of loving my players more than I love my own children – which is not true guys (laughter) – but it is pretty close. I enjoy the good players who work hard for us on teams that develop into really good offensive and defensive players.”


On seeing Johnson on The Today Show this offseason:

“That was great. I was even interviewed. I never saw [my interview air]. I think I probably did not get on because I was not good looking enough for their telecast (laughter). They interviewed me for that, as well. That was pretty neat.”


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