STC Mike Priefer (11.19.20)

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer:

On LS Charley Hughlett being cleared to return to practice today: 

“Yeah, (Senior Vice President of Communications) Peter (John-Baptiste) said I can tell you guys he has been cleared so we are good there.”

On LB Mack Wilson’s long snapping skills: 

“You know what, he is really good. When he is good, he is good. Inconsistent yesterday like you would expect. We do work with all these guys. Some of our young tight ends have been working since July. We have a plan in place. If Mack could not go, we could have somebody else go. We have three or four guys that are active on our roster every game that are ready to be long snappers, if need be.”

On if there is still uncertainty if K Cody Parkey’s will be available on Sunday: 

“I think we just have to go through the normal protocols that have been set in place for obvious reasons. Hopefully, we do get Cody back for the weekend, and if not, (K) Matt (McCrane) had a really good day yesterday. He is going to kick again today and he will be ready to roll.”

On how well Parkey has been playing this season: 

“He has been outstanding. The really cool thing is the last two weeks we have had those crazy winds in our stadium, and the winds were different both times. All three specialists got out there in pregame and in both games they were true pros, they were talking about it, they did not overthink it, they just went out and they executed. I think Cody in the two games was four for five on his kicks and he kicked off OK. Again, there are certain levels of winds in that stadium. You hit a certain level and you are going to get a touchback. If not, that wind will knock it down. We are still learning that way, but Cody has done a really nice job.”

On McCrane and McCrane’s time on the Browns’ practice squad: 

“He has been there since Week 2. The great thing is that our personnel people and myself, we have had a plan in place since July if something crazy like this happened. As I told (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski the other day, as you know, we are not going to bat an eye. We have a plan, and we have to go execute the plan. If we do not have Cody, we have to be ready to go. If Cody can come back Sunday morning, he will be ready to go. Either way, we are not pressing the panic button. We will just go out and do our deal, and Matt will be fine. Matt will do a great job for us if he has to play on Sunday.”

On if McCrane has had more reps than a typical season with Hughlett and Gillan: 

“Yeah, we have periodically. I would not say every week; I think I would say every other week he has gotten reps with Charley and Jamie. Again, it is not extensive reps, but he kicks every week. He does a great job with the scout team. He kicks field goal on his own. At times, especially we had the one practice during the bye week, he got some extensive work there just to have him ready at all times because you have to expect the best but prepare for the worst. Not that it is worse for Matt obviously kicking for us, but we have to prepare for that situation. I think we have done a good job in doing so, and we will continue to do that today and tomorrow.”

On how crucial the timing is between the LS, K and holder: 

“It is not only the timing, it is also exactly the type of tilt on the ball that Matt wants. Matt is slightly different than Cody, and that is just Jamie getting used to it. Jamie is like a robot back there. He does a great job and listens to instructions from the holder and goes out and does it. We did a good job yesterday, and we hope to have some more success today.”

On what is lost with NFL teams having less in-person interaction this season, particularly when in intensive protocols: 

“That is the toughest part for me. I love my job, as I have told you guys before, because of the interaction with the players. You do not have that in meetings. You do not get to meetings a few minutes early and see how the guys are doing and talk to (CB) Tavierre Thomas about his new baby boy or have the opportunity to talk to other guys about how they are doing outside of football and once the meeting starts getting locked in and talking football. That is the part I miss the most is the interaction with them. You do get that as much with these protocols, but like everybody keeps saying, we are in 2020. We just have to roll with the punches like everybody else. The fact that we are playing, the fact that we are practicing and the fact that we are working is a blessing. You see a lot of people in this country are not working right now and they are going through a lot of tough times so we hope to provide at least the Cleveland Browns fans with some joy. Hopefully, we will keep working hard and keep winning games.”

On if he tries to maximize the opportunity to build relationships and connect with players during practice: 

“Absolutely. Every chance we get, whether it is walkthrough time, jog through time or after practice that we have set up now during practice, a couple reminders right before you go out before the special teams period starts. Every opportunity we get is an opportunity to coach and help these guys learn and continue to get better. We are really pushing the watching a lot of tape on their own. They are at home a little bit longer than they normally are either in the morning or when they go home at night. Allowed to have a 15-minute virtual meeting at night with these guys at 5:45 on Wednesdays and Thursdays. We get a lot of work done there. From there, I tell them exactly what they need to watch that night, kind of a homework assignment, if you will. The true pros out there are doing it, and those guys are the ones who are getting better and those guys are the ones who are performing for us on Sundays.”

On if McCrane will kick at the stadium before Sunday: 

“No, we are going to go ahead and kick today. I thought it was important that he kicked with the guys today. Going down the stadium, obviously, it would not be with the whole protection. I think it would be good for him to feel rush off the edge like we are going to do today and tomorrow and put a little pressure on him and make sure his timing is right. I thought that was more important than going down to the stadium. He has been down there. He understands winds. He and Cody talk every week. Cody has been phenomenal as kind of a mentor for Matt to help him to prepare because Cody is a team guy, and he knows that if Matt is going to kick for us that Matt has to be ready. Cody has done a nice job helping him in that regard.”

On how Parkey overcame the challenging experience with the Bears: 

“He is a mentally tough guy. I do not think he gets too rattled. He is very unlike me. I am kind of emotional, and I go up and down probably too much, as you can ask my wife and my kids or my players. Cody is very even keeled. He is very steady. I think anything good that happens or anything less than perfect that happens, he just rolls with it and continues to improve and get better. I admire him for that. I admire him for the way he has come back and especially the way he has performed for us this year.”

On if having a backup LS in a game would affect special teams decisions to punt or kick a field goal: 

“I think the field goal snaps are probably a little bit, I would not say easier, but they are a little bit easier to execute. Punt-wise, I think there would have to be some changes. We have to get out of there quick because if we have backup snapper, I know what I would do, we are going to come after people, we are going to come after him and put some pressure on him. That is exactly what we worked on yesterday with Jamie getting the ball out of there quick, still having quality punts, go down there covering them and helping Mack or wherever that backup snapper is helping him in protection and make sure that whatever scenario that we might be in that we cover that in practice and we are comfortable with it if it happens in the game.”

On if WR Donovan Peoples-Jones is making improvements in the return game this season, given fans’ comments that there seems to be a moment in each game where they ‘freak out’: 

“Donovan is a very smart player, but the thing with a rookie returner – I am with the fans sometimes and I freak out a little bit too… Obviously, the game last week was a tough play. I think as a young player, no matter what position you play, you need experience. Practice is one thing. Watching it on tape is another thing. We do countless reps of punt returns and kickoff returns before and after practice or during practice of catching punts and putting him in different situations and moving him around. The situation on Sunday, we practiced that countless times. I think the only way those guys get better at that stuff is to experience it in. Yes, there are some growing pains with any young returner, and I feel their pain and I get it. We just have to keep coaching him. That is who we have right now, and we just have to keep working.”

On if he appreciated G Joel Bitonio’s comment about the 12 flags blowing in all different directions on Sunday: 

“I did not see that quote, but it makes a lot of sense. You saw it in Houston’s field goal. That poor kid. He thought the winds were blowing left to right so he plays it over to the left, and the wind was actually going the other way. You have the winds on the field and have a bag actually blowing across the field the opposite direction. It was a crazy day. The national anthem was the craziest weather I think I have ever seen. One of the players asked me after the game if I ever flew in weather like. I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ I would not want to fly a helicopter in that wind. That would have been kind of treacherous.”

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