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Chudzinski press conf. transcript - 9/4

Posted Sep 4, 2013

The transcript of Coach Rob Chudzinski's Wednesday morning press conference.

Opening statement: “Finally, here we are: game week. We’re excited about this week for a number of reasons.  Firstly, up to this point, we were really a roster.  Now is the first time we really have our team together and are becoming a team.  This is our team.  I talked to the guys about that earlier this week.

“We’re also excited about opening up at FirstEnergy Stadium.  I know it’s going to be rocking.  It’ll be great to see the fans again and get them out there.  It’s going to be an electric atmosphere I’m also excited for the opportunity to play the Dolphins, a very good football team from last year.  They made a lot of offseason moves to improve their team.  It’s going to be a great challenge for us.  We’re looking forward to that and can’t wait to get back on the field.  As you look at Miami, first off, I think they have an outstanding coaching staff.  I have a lot of respect for (Head) Coach (Joe) Philbin and his staff.  Offensively, they are a West-Coast style team.  They run some no-huddle, so there are some things we’re going to have to prepare for from that standpoint.  They have a talented, young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.  You really can see the growth and the progress that he made over the course of last season, as well as the preseason.  He’s playing some of his best ball.  He had a great game against Tampa (Bay) in the preseason.  (WR) Mike Wallace they picked up in the offseason, a dynamic receiver, a speed receiver, a big play threat.  With (WR Brian) Hartline and (WR Brandon) Gibson, that gives them two guys that are excellent receivers, very dependable guys.  They’re really a good group of receivers.  They have an experienced offensive line.  Obviously, (C Mike) Pouncey is one of the best in the game at his position.  I know they have (RG) John Jerry coming back so it’ll be a good test for us up front.  Defensively, it’s an outstanding unit on defense.  Their defensive line is excellent.  They have a number of guys that are top-notch players.  Everyone knows about (DE) Cameron Wake.  (DT Paul) Soliai is a force in the middle and (rookie DE) Dion Jordan is going to be back for our game, as well. It’ll be a big challenge for us up front on that side of the ball.  They have very active linebackers.  They picked a couple of guys up in free agency, (LB Dannell) Ellerbe and (LB Philip) Wheeler.  Those guys are a good group. That front seven is a good group.  They went out and showed up their secondary, particularly in their corner position.  They picked up (CB) Brent Grimes and (CB) Dimitri Patterson, and those guys are playing good football and are outstanding players, as well.  From a special teams perspective, they have a good young rookie kicker (Dimitri Patterson.  (P) Brandon Fields is their punter, and he has a big leg. (RB Marcus) Thigpen is an outstanding return guy.  All three phases are significant challenges for us, and we’re preparing to meet those challenges this week.”

On the importance of winning this game: “Every game in this league is important.  We approach this game just like we do any other game.  That’s how we’ll go in.  This week, we will go into this game and think, ‘This is the most important game we play this week.”  Once we’re past that and moving on through the course of the season, we’re going to approach every week the same way.”

On his confidence in the kicking game: “I’m very comfortable.  (K) Billy (Cundiff) was a guy we looked at.  Obviously, he had a good workout.  He’s played and knows the division, and he’s played here.  He’s kicked well in the preseason thus far.  He’s outstanding as a kick off guy.  I think he is 60 percent on his touchback percentage.  And he has been in the Pro Bowl.  He is a resilient guy.  He’s on our football team, and I have the utmost faith in him.”

On whether K Shayne Graham’s injury factored into his release: “It didn’t. It didn’t at all.”

On preparing the season based on one game, dating back to his days with Butch Davis: “That’s the danger of putting all of your eggs in one basket.  As I recall, we won that game (vs. Baltimore).  I can’t remember how many games we won that year, but it wasn’t a lot.  Other times, I’ve been on teams that may have lost the first game and have gone on to win 13 games one year when we lost the first game.  The key is the approach that we’re talking about.  This game is the most important game we’re playing this week.  That’s the approach we’ve taken.  We’ve talked to our guys all along about every segment, everything that we’re doing is the most important thing at that particular time. Whether it’s OTA’s, whether it’s minicamp, whether it’s training camp, whatever the practice is, whatever the meeting is, that’s the most important thing.  That’s the focus.  That’s the only way I know how to do it.”

On when he was offensive coordinator in 2007: “We got better every week.  If you do that during the course of the season and continue to get better, then you give yourself chances to win games.  That’s ultimately what you want to do and make the plays when you have the opportunity to win those games.”

On QB Brandon Weeden’s progress: “I’m looking forward to seeing him.  I think he’s come a long way and really improving as a player.  He’s grabbed ahold of the offense.  I’m really looking forward to seeing him out there on Sunday.”

On how close Weeden is to being where he wants him to be: “I think he’s right on track.”

On a specific area he needs to improve: “I don’t think there is anything that stands out in that way.  He needs to continue to progress at the experience level where he’s at.  Each game, guys tend to get better. The more experiences they have, the more they learn and the more that they grow through time.”

On CB Chris Owens’ and CB Leon McFadden’s experience: “I’m expecting no problems with Chris.  He’ll be back.  He’s played before so it’s not as big of an issue as maybe it would be with younger guy.  I think Leon is making improvements.  I trust that group.  (Defensive coordinator) Ray (Horton) does a great job overall, and we’ll do everything we can to put our guys in a position to win.”

On having four cornerbacks on the roster: “I think that’s pretty common.  We have some flexibility with our safety position and some guys that potentially can play corner, as well, so that helps out as far as the overlap with the numbers.”

On how quarterbacks can be better in their second year: “Just the familiarity with the game and what it takes to play in the NFL.  A lot of times, guys just don’t know the difference.  There is a huge difference between college and the pros.  Going through that year and learning about that, how to prepare, what it really takes to be successful, I think they have a better grasp.  Obviously, being in a system and going through and understanding the system a little bit better typically helps as well.”

On Weeden potentially struggling due to a new offensive system: “Because he is going through the process of playing games, that’s a big part of it and a big adjustment.  He has played catch up in terms of learning it, but he has put a tremendous amount of work in into it.  From that standpoint, I think he has been able to grasp the system.”

On the location of Cundiff’s workout: “It was here [in Berea].”

On not hosting the workout at FirstEnergy Stadium: “It was really windy the other day, and I thought we had enough wind to factor that in.”

On if the workout was held outdoors: “It was outdoors.  We did it outdoors here.  We’re actually going to take him down to the stadium and kick a little bit before we get to Sunday.”

On if there were other candidates for kicker: “We did, we had another guy.  I’m not going to get into too many details of the whole process we’ve gone through.”

On Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill: “He’s a young guy.  You can see how he’s grasping things on the field.  He’s extremely talented.  He’s got a great arm, very accurate.  He can really run; he can move.  He’s mobile, he can extend plays and he can hurt you from that aspect.  We’re approaching that.”

On RB Bobby Rainey and his role in the return game: “We will take a look at those guys this week, both (RB Dennis) Johnson and Rainey as returners.  We do have a group that we feel confident about.  But we will look at those guys and see where they are.  Rainey has been in a similar system from on offensive standpoint, so the adjustments won’t be big from a terminology standpoint.  We still have a lot of flexibility with Obi (RB Chris Ogbonnaya), as well, being all over the place.  We’ll be in fine shape. I have no concerns over that.”

On bringing in players to replace TE Kellen Davis: “First of all, we have a core group of guys. That group is the group we are going to lean on to win the game the most.  We added some new guys.  We’ll get those guys up to speed and have to get them ready to play in a short amount of time.  Our coaches will do a great job with that.  I have no problems with that at all.  It gave us an opportunity to look at other guys that our scouts had pinpointed as potential guys to help us.  We’ll get ready to play and we’ll have them ready to play by Sunday.”

On if rookie LB Barkevious Mingo will play: “We’ll wait and see this week.”

On adjusting the gameplan without WR Josh Gordon: “I don’t see us having to do that.  We’ve basically built this in throughout the course of our preparation of knowing that Josh wasn’t going to be here the first couple of games.  I think we’re in fine shape there.”

On Dolphins WR Mike Wallace and how he puts pressure on defense: “He has rare speed.  He can run by and get behind guys.  It’s amazing how he can do that.  He is always a big-play threat out there.  Everybody knows about his speed, but he can run routes as well and catch the ball.  He’s a real playmaker and a guy that you have to account for.”

On Dolphins WRs Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson: “They’re really good football players.  They’re good route runners.  They’re dependable in clutch time.  Both of them make great plays.  If you’re looking too much at Wallace, these two guys can really hurt you.  It’s a challenge with all three of them out there.”

On not putting RB Montario Hardesty on injured reserve: “Just at that particular time with what we needed from a team and a roster standpoint, it felt like that was the best decision.”

On if Hardesty will be able to play this season: “It’s hard to say.”

On WR Davone Bess starting this week: “Bess and (WR Travis) Benjamin are both co-starters.  They’ll play a lot.  We’ll rotate those guys quite a bit.”

On having four receivers on the roster: “We’ll be okay.  I have done it before, and we can handle that.  We can manage that.”

On if K Brandon Bogotay’s injury factored into his release: “He was in the mix during training camp.  It just felt like there were some things that we weren’t satisfied with from the kicking standpoint overall.  We wanted to look elsewhere and take a look around.  We came to Billy, and are satisfied with it.”

On DB Johnson Bademosi being the kick returner: “We’ll work both Rainey and Johnson, as well.  But Bademosi, we know, can do it.  Also, Travis Benjamin can do it and (DB) Buster (Skrine), as well.”

On listing OL Jason Pinkston on designated-to-return injured reserve: “I think from where he was at his rehab stand point and healing standpoint, it coincided a little bit more with that designation for the DFRIR.  It just coincided and it just made sense.  He will be returning and around that time, you’re always looking for guys and need guys up front.  It allowed us to have an extra spot right now.”

On if Pinkston will need surgery: “No.”

On OL Shaun Lauvao’s status: “I think he is still on schedule.  He will be out this week, we can rule him out.  We can just re-evaluate him next week.”

On CB Joe Haden returning kicks: “He’s been wanting to do it.  We’ll hold it on that one for the time being.”