STC Mike Priefer (10.22.20)

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer:

On how P Jamie Gillan is handling the groin injury and how Gillan performed on Sunday: 

“He is doing fine. He has had several days off for rest. Just something that was very minor. He is good. I thought he did a pretty good job this past Sunday.”

On if he believes Gillan has found more consistency this season: 

“I do. I think what he needs is he needs a really outstanding game like he had several early last year that gave him a lot of confidence. He is still a young player, and that is no excuse. He needs to be more consistent, but like any young player at any position, you need to have some confidence. Once he has a good game and gets a few good punts under his belt, you are going to see him, I think, really take off and be a more consistent performer for us.”

On special teams points of emphasis this week in the second matchup with the Bengals and if the Browns will plan to keep the ball out of Bengals S Brandon Wilson’s hands in the return game: 

“They did a nice job of blocking it up last time we played them. We did a terrible job of covering. Let’s put it in his hands. Let’s go cover him. I have a lot of confidence in our guys, and maybe too much confidence early on apparently. I think we have guys that have a lot of want to, and we have to outplay play those guys. They wanted it more than we did last time we played them. We have to want it more than they do. That is quite simply the best way to put it. Is he a good returner? Yeah, he is outstanding, but I am a pretty competitive guy. I want to get after this kid and see if we can do a lot better than we did last time we played them.”

On why the Browns do not simply kick the ball out of the end zone for a touchback on every kickoff possible: 

“I think there is a time and place for that. There are certain situations in a game where you are going to need that. I think a drive starting at the 18 is better than the 25 for our defense. We have not done that like we should this year. We have had some opportunities, and we have lost leverage or missed a tackle and not done our job. When it is time and the time and place is necessary, we will kick touchbacks. If not, we are going to challenge people.”

On how the Browns can help spring WR Donovan Peoples-Jones for a big return: 

“Last week, Pittsburgh did exactly what we thought they were going to do in coverage, and we had a bounce left and all he had to do was beat the safety. If he beats that kid, then we have a big play, and the guy made a nice tackle. I think we are doing some things with our scheme to try to get him loose. We always do that. That is kind of what we do on kickoff return. We need to block better. We need to finish blocks better. We missed a couple blocks towards. The last return was a left return, and we missed a block at the point of attack. When you do that, you are not going to spring a guy. I do not care how good a returner he is. We have to be more consistent in finishing our blocks and do a better job.”

On Gillan’s personality: 

“He has a great personality I think that is part of his deal. When he is bubbly, having fun and feeling good about himself, he is a really good performer. When he is thinking too much and he is worried about certain things, he is not quite as consistent. It is my job to actually keep him loose, believe it or not. He is kind of a loosey-goosey guy anyway. Some specialists are like that, and they perform better that way. Others are more locked in. (K) Cody (Parkey) is not like that. Cody is a more locked in and serious guy, and that is what works for him. (LS) Charley (Hughlett) is kind of a combination the two and helps keep them in line. I love Jamie’s personality. I think it adheres to him being a successful specialist in this league. Like I said, the more experience he gets, the more confidence he gets and the better he is going to be.”

On if not being able to socialize and be in the community as much as usual due to COVID-19 restrictions is impacting Gillan: 

“If it bothers him, it bothers all of us. I think we are all. It bothers all you guys. We are all restricted with this, and our personalities can’t open up as much as we would like to because we can’t be as social as we would like to be. We all are. We went to Pittsburgh and my son is a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, and he is 10 minutes away from the hotel and I can’t see him. That affected me. My son that is at the Naval Academy and we go play Baltimore a few weeks ago, and I can’t go see him and he is half hour away. It is hard. It affects everybody in different ways. I do not think that is an excuse at all.”

On if he is disappointed in how the Browns special teams have performed so far this season and if he feels there is still a lot to fix: 

“I do not know if ‘fix’ is the right word. We need to be more consistent. I am proud of the way we have handled end of game situations or even the end of half situation. Last week we punted the ball, it was 31 yards and we punted the ball out of bounds with nine seconds left. We are not going to give that kid an opportunity to beat us. The end game and or end of half type situations – the hands team, big field goal against Indy a couple weeks ago – I am really proud of the way our guys reacted there, but it is the consistency and the things obviously like you said we need to fix and we need to be more consistent and get better at it.

“I am going to mention my two daughters, too, because they are going to see this. If I do not mention my daughter at Tennessee or my daughter in Denver, I am going to get yelled at so I want to mention them, as well.”

On having both Peoples-Jones and RB Dontrell Hilliard on kickoff return last week and if that is something the Steelers made the Browns switch: 

“They did not make us do it. We did it because (Steelers K) Chris Boswell is an outstanding kickoff man, especially at Pittsburgh. He is like when (former Browns and NFL kicker) Phil (Dawson) used to be here with the Browns. When you played Phil here in Cleveland, he did such a tremendous job of moving the ball because he understood the winds inside and out, like we have talked about before. I have talked to Phil about that before about our stadium. When you go play Pittsburgh, Chris does such a phenomenal job of kicking off in that stadium. He knows the winds, even though it was not that windy, but he knows exactly where to place the ball. Instead of having one guy in the middle running all over the place to try to get the ball, we put two guys deep.”

On if Peoples-Jones will remain the No. 1 returner: 

“More than likely.”

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