Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer (9.29.22)


Opening statement:

“I want to start out by saying I was really proud of our team the way we reacted in the second half. The first half against Pittsburgh, it did not go as planned. We didn’t play as well as we I would have liked or we would have liked. We started the second half with a tackle inside the 20, which really gave us some momentum. Our guys were really juiced up in the locker room prior to that play. They knew we didn’t play as well as we needed to. We had a tackle inside the 20 there. Our punt returner did a great job all night in very difficult conditions. Second half, fourth quarter, he had two shorter returns on shorter punts he had to come up on. Did a great job. We got the ball at the 40 and then the 50 and gave our offense great field position. (P) Corey (Bojorquez) did a great job in the fourth quarter. We had three punts in the last 5:40 at the [6]-yard line, the 20 – that was by design so No. 89 (Steelers WR Gunner Olszewski) didn’t have a chance to return it – and of course at the 4-yard line at the end of the game. Then (WR) Anthony Schwartz made a great play on the hands team. They were offsides, and they called it. Anthony did a great job of coming over and knocking the ball out of bounds. I know we did not play our best football in the first half against Pittsburgh, but I thought we responded really well in the second half and helped our team win that game.”


On if the Browns worked on onside kick recoveries between the NY Jets and Steelers games:

“Like every coach in the NFL, we do that a lot. We work on that a lot. We meet on it Thursdays but not today. We meet on it, we walk through it and we do a lot of extra kicks on Friday after practice. Like this week, we will go on the turf. Usually, it is on the grass when we are playing at home. Our kicker and punter will just kick different type of onside kicks to guys. We work on that. Just like any other team in the NFL, we work on that a lot.”


On clarifying if the team practiced onside kick recovery between their last two games, including during the short week:

“Yes, sir. We did. We did.”


On how to not overemphasize onside kick recoveries in practice:

“No, I don’t think you can ever overemphasize that type of play. That is a good question. I understand where it is coming from. Two years ago, we had seven opportunities, and we were seven-for-seven. Last, year we were one-for-two. This year we are one-for-two. Obviously, we need to recover all of those to help our team win the game, especially the crucial situations. There are a lot of teams in the league, they are up 14 or up 21, if they do not get an onside kick, it is no big deal. Ours have been in crucial situations so we need to make sure we come through for our team in those situations.”


On if he was nervous during the onside kick at the end of the Steelers game:

“Happened kind of fast. I saw the flag. I knew they were offsides. You don’t want to give them another opportunity to kick that, but I did see the flag.”


On the onside kick against the NY Jets and if Schwartz knocking the Steelers’ onside kick out of bounds was a sign of learning from mistakes:

“Anthony didn’t do anything wrong on the first one. Anthony was coming from the 39 because the new rules state that you can only have at least eight no more than nine in the setup zone. He is the guy just outside of the setup zone. He did a really nice job on the play against Pittsburgh.”


On coaching points regarding onside kicks after the NY Jets game:

“I just think we need to do a better job of making that play. I have to get them more ready. They changed the kick on us. When they were going to come to our left and we called timeout, and they went back to the right. It is not that we were not ready for that. We are always ready for every type of kick, but they did a nice job.”


On if WR Chester Rogers won the PR position after last week’s performance:

“I really like Chester. I think it is a week-to-week thing. When a young man is on the practice squad, you are hoping to get him up every week, and hopefully, we will get him on the 53 at some point. Tat is a roster decision that I am not privy to sometimes. At the end of the day, we are always going to do what is right for our football team in terms of the roster on the gameday. Do I think he is doing a good job? Yes, I do. I really like Chester.”


On the message to RB Demetric Felton Jr. after ‘losing the PR job’ to Rogers and was inactive last week:

“I don’t know if Demetric has really lost the job. He always has to stay ready. Demetric has come a long way. Remember, as a rookie last year, he had never returned a punt in his career – maybe in high school might have been the last time. I think Demetric has gotten a lot better. He is a guy who is a really special young man and a special player. He just needs a little bit of confidence, and I think he will be fine.”


On if K Cade York missing PATs could affect attempts moving forward:

“I think he just pushed it right. He will be fine.”


On how York has bounced back after two PAT misses this season:

“He is a really prideful young man, and he understands his craft greatly. Being a young guy, he knows that sometimes he wants to get overtechnical because he understands his technique. He is so smart, but he is very confident. He came back yesterday. He hit the ball really well. We will have another session tomorrow. I have a lot of confidence in Cade. He is a really good kicker.”


On if kicking during a windy game early in the season at home can benefit York:

“What I really liked what he did the other night was kickoff. You guys know me, we like to cover kicks. We have a really good kickoff team. The Jet game, he did what I asked him to do and tried to give them opportunities, and we did not kickoff as well. That is more on me. He did a really nice job responding against Pittsburgh. Being a windy, field goals – I don’t know if you guys saw his pregame – I have never seen a pregame like that in my life. It was tremendous. He has a lot of confidence. He is starting to figure out the winds, and the more reps he gets down there, the better he will be.”


On the decision to have Browns LBs on the hands team:

“Guys who are going to be smart. Like (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski talks about smart, tough, accountable and resilient. You have to have the right people out there, the guys who are going to if the ball is kicked to them they can make a play; if it is not kicked to them, they know who to block and how to block them. Just situationally-aware guys.”


On Falcons RB Cordarrelle Patterson as a KR and opponents often deciding to kick away from Patterson, particularly indoors at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“Cordarrelle is a great one. I had him for four years. We had a lot of success together in Minnesota. He was phenomenal. A great young man. I have been teasing (RB) Nick (Chubb) this week about the second-leading rusher in the NFL is the kickoff returner for their team, as well. I have been teasing Nick about that because Nick is such a great guy, he will do whatever he can to help our team. Cordarrelle is a really good player. We will see on Sunday. I have a lot of confidence in our kicker and our kickoff team.”


On if he believed Patterson could have the potential to transition from WR to RB when they were together in Minnesota:

“I think the first or second year he was there, we started experimenting with him. (Former NFL coach and Cal offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach) Bill Musgrave was our offensive coordinator and Kevin was on that staff. I think they used him a little bit in certain areas, but I don’t know that if it ever clicked. I was glad kind of selfishly it didn’t because we used him as a kickoff returner and then he started playing gunner for us, too. He is just such a tremendous athlete and a great kid. If you guys knew him, you would really like him.”


On how ability as a returner translates to RBs:

“For him, it is probably vision. He didn’t have great vision, but I think he has developed really good vision, especially the way they use him down in Atlanta. They have done a nice job with the way they use him. He runs hard. He is fearless. He can break arm tackles because he is so big – he is 6’2”, 215-218. He is built different than some running backs, but he runs so hard you can’t arm tackle him.”


On P Corey Bojorquez’s performance this season and what happened on the deflected punt last week:

“Corey has been fantastic. I am really happy we got him. He is an outstanding punter. He is only going to get better the more he figures out the winds in our stadium, as well, and he is not afraid of cold weather – Buffalo, Green Bay. He signs and goes out and kicks. He wanted to come here, and I am glad he is here. On the tipped punt, we talk about (Steelers S) Miles Killebrew, we identify where he is all of the time. I had to him in when I was in Minnesota and he was in Detroit. Now, of course he is in Pittsburgh. He is the best punt blocker in our league, and we just didn’t do a good enough job blocking to be honest with you. He seeped through there and got a fingertip on it. That is like a sudden change for us. Our defense was phenomenal. We held them, and then (Steelers K Chris) Boswell uncharacteristically missed a field goal so it worked out for us.”


On Boswell’s missed FG attempt being significantly moved by the wind last week and not using the wind as an excuse for York’s missed PAT later in the game going the same direction:

“Way too strong. It is a PAT. It was a shorter kick. It wasn’t the wind. He would not use that as an excuse at all. I don’t think Boswell would either. Boswell, knowing him, he is another great kid, and he is a great kicker. He probably would have said the same thing. ‘I just need to play it a little bit more left, left-to-right.’”


On how younger Browns players potentially needing to contribute more on offense and defense due to injuries will impact special teams personnel:

“Welcome to my world. I love it. My challenge every week and every year is to make sure that we have young people, young players who are on the practice squad or on the bottom part of the 53-man roster who are ready to go. I take a lot of pride in that. It is next-man-up mentality. Our guys are ready. They are going to be fired up and ready to play on Sunday.”


On it appearing that RB Jerome Ford was in between the decision to take the touchback or return the kickoff that resulted on the drive starting inside the 20-yard line:

“He did. I couldn’t even get mad at him because I see it happen to a lot of young players. He knew exactly what happened after he did it. He gave the iron cross, which is the touchback signal, and then he saw the ball was only go about 2-3 [yards] deep, which is kind of his rule to bring it out. He just made a poor decision for him, but he will be fine. A lot of confidence in him. It means so much to him – we win by 12 points, and he is so distraught in the locker room after the game, and (RB) D’Ernest Johnson and I are giving him a pep talk. ‘You are going to be OK.’ He will be fine. I have a lot of confidence in Jerome.”


On the rules of returning kickoffs once signaling the iron cross, which is the indicator to the unit for a touchback:

“Don’t even catch it. Let it go into the end zone. It is a touchback.”


On Falcons RB Avery Williams as a PR:

“He is a fantastic special teams player. We interviewed him before the draft. It was a Zoom interview because it was during the COVID times. I loved the way he played the game. Watched him on tape. We interviewed him for about an hour on Zoom, and I am like, ‘This guy is special.’ I heard this from other people, too, he was involved in meetings at Boise (State). I don’t know how much defense he played, but he was a fantastic special teams player. He was returning punts for touchdowns. He was blocking punts for touchdowns. It is really important to him. He is a smaller athlete who plays so hard, and you can’t bring him down with and arm tackle either. We definitely have our challenges with both sets of returners and both guys.”


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