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2016 Browns exit interviews - 1/2

Included below are select quotes from interviews with the following Browns players during today's media availability:

  • RB George Atkinson III
  • TE Gary Barnidge
  • RB Isaiah Crowell
  • TE Seth DeValve
  • OL Cameron Erving
  • DL/LB Emmanuel Ogbah
  • WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.
  • DB Jamar Taylor
  • OL Joe Thomas

RB George Atkinson III:

On getting a few carries on Sunday:

"Yeah, it felt good, especially going into the offseason, knowing what you have to work on, stuff like that and getting your feet wet a little bit before we come back for the season."

On what the Browns can take away from this season:

"What we need to work on. We learned that it is hard to win in this league and just the experience and the lessons we have learned from this season to carry it on and make those wrongs right for next season."

On if the Browns will walk away with positives from the season, despite the challenges:

"For sure. This whole season we have been positive. The mood and the mission has not changed. We go here to be champions, regardless of the season you had last year. We could turn this season into a blessing by motivating us next season and knowing what we need to do to get better."

TE Gary Barnidge:

On why the future is bright for next season:

"As you saw, we are never going to quit or give up. We were in games the whole year, and it is just going to improve. We are never going to deal with this type of season ever again."

On the Browns coaching staff:

"Tremendous. Love them. They have done a great job of fighting through everything, just like we have. They have kept us true to who we are."

On why the Browns were able to stick together this season, despite the challenges:

"It was a true testament to the coaches and to the veteran leadership on this team. Everybody did a good job of holding everybody together and making sure nobody gave up because that is something you can't do. We didn't want that to happen because everybody is true to each other. We want to hold each other accountable and have each others' backs."

RB Isaiah Crowell:

On if established himself further this year:

"Yeah, I feel like I am well established. I feel like I had a good year. I could have done better in some situations, but for the most part, I am proud."

On if he would have liked more carries:

"I would have liked more carries, but the way our season went, it was more about winning. I just have to understand the situation. We were really back on the downs a lot this year. Really, we just have to get everything together, and we will be fine."

On what it means to have Head Coach Hue Jackson back next season:

"I feel like he was a really good coach. I have a lot of respect for him. I feel like he is going to be great. I am glad to know he is going to be here because he is one of my favorite coaches that has been here."

TE Seth DeValve:

On learning a new position this season:

"The learning experience has been good and gradual. I feel like I have gotten better at playing tight end. Probably the biggest transition was blocking in the trenches. There were a lot of things that I got away with in college technique wise that were not right because I was one of the biggest guys in the Ivy League. Blocking guys in the NFL is a little bit different and my technique was exposed a little bit. I think the biggest place I needed to improve and have improved is blocking technique. That is an area that I need to continue to take jumps to be a bigger contributor on the team."

On if he gained confidence in the second half of the year to believe that he belongs in the NFL:"For sure. I feel as if I still have a lot more to do and to show of what I am capable of. Like I was talking about, having a healthy offseason and coming back in great shape is probably the most important thing for me. It is good to have that first season under your belt and to know that you belong. We will see how high we can go."

On believing the 2016 draft class has a bright future with the Browns:

"Yeah, I do. I do. I think many of us, if not all of us, contributed in some big ways. I had some key roles on the team and made some big plays in crucial moments this season. More importantly than that, it is a good group of guys that work hard. From a developmental standpoint, that is what is most important. Time will tell, but I have a great deal of expectations and hope in our group."

OL Cameron Erving:

On if the Browns OL has good potential for next year:

"Yeah, it all looks good. The biggest thing is guys have to stay healthy. Things that have happened to these guys this year are freak accidents, things that are out of ordinary. At the end of the day, we are going to fix this, the guys are going to get healthy and they are going to get out there and we are going to play ball."

On the positives for the Browns this season, despite the record:

"From a team standpoint, we support everybody on this team individually. We had a lot of guys do some really good things this year individually. We had a guy [LB Christian Kirksey] who was in the top 10 in the league for tackles. We had a guy [WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.] playing receiver in his first year go for 1,000 yards. (RB) Isaiah Crowell had an outstanding season. A lot of guys played huge roles in what we did. There are a lot of bright spots for us. We just have to continue to get better, and like I said, there are a lot of bright spots. We just have to continue to learn to play with more consistency."

On Head Coach Hue Jackson returning next season:

"Continuity is everything. I feel like our organization is headed in the right direction. I feel like they have the right people in place to make it happen. Moving forward, I am happy. We have a great staff and some good guys coming back to play ball."

DL/LB Emmanuel Ogbah:

On his progression throughout the season:

"Definitely, I felt more comfortable and just kept working at it and kept getting better."

On approaching difficulties this season:

"Just control what you can control. I just kept getting better and just kept doing what I can to help the team win at all costs."

On playing well and if he felt more comfortable during the second half of the season:

"I definitely felt more comfortable. I just tried to put my team in the best position to win games, and that was my main goal coming into the season."

On areas coaches have told him to focus this offseason and if getting bigger is a priority:

"Definitely. The D-line coach, Coach (Robert) Nunn told us everybody has to get in the weight room and get our lower body stronger. That is the main thing he said."

On if has considered what he can accomplish next season:

"I don't like to think far ahead. I just have to focus on the now and get better at what I am lacking and what I struggle with. I just have to go back and watch film and see what I can improve on."

On the future of the Browns:

"The future is bright. I feel like we have a long way to go, but we are getting closer to where we need to be."

On why the Browns have a bright future:

"We have good guys on the team, talented guys. We have great coaches. We can only get better from here."

On why the Browns stayed together and kept playing hard this season, despite their record:

"We had a mindset as a group – we just have to keep getting better at whatever we could and just give our team the best chance to win games, and that is what we just kept on doing. We kept on playing hard."

WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.:

On what the Browns need to do to take their play to the next level:

"I saw something Jimmy (Haslam) said – we have the right guys in place in terms of coaches. That is definitely the truth, and I just think obviously we need more players, a couple more players. I think we are not far. The Browns, we are not far, but at the same time, we have to get more players and I think that (Head Coach) Hue (Jackson) and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Sashi (Brown) and those guys will get on top of that. All you can do is look toward the future. You can't look back. My favorite quote is, 'The future ain't what it used to be.' I say that a lot, and I think that you take that standpoint and you just live on with that. You don't look in the past. You go to the future and make it better than what it was."

On if he will tell the Browns that he wants to be in Cleveland:

"Absolutely. I have told them. We have had a lot of conversations. At the end of the day, football is a business. It has to make sense for myself. I don't know the lyrics or how those words are put on paper, stuff like that, but I would love to play for Coach Hue. I loved playing for him this year, no matter what, despite the 1-15 record. I am not worried about that. For me, it is progress. We need to make progress. Coach, you should have heard him in the team meeting room. He was fiery upset, but he was also telling us that 'you gave me your all.' He took all the blame. He didn't put any of it on us. We just want to make progress. We all want to win. That is what is important."

On Haslam stating that one of the Browns' top priorities is to re-sign key players this offseason:

"Our owner is sharp. He is a very sharp guy. I heard (OL) Joe (Thomas) saying it, as well. We lost a lot of key components coming into the year from an offensive line standpoint and even (Chargers WR) Travis Benjamin, guys like that. Joe has been here awhile so I can't really talk how he talks because he has that, but I do firmly believe that you have to keep your guys and you just have to keep on progressing. They are going to do a great job. I believe in Coach Hue, love the guy and it was a treat to play for him. It was a privilege to play for Coach Hue, and (senior offensive assistant) Coach Al (Saunders), learning from him and (associate head coach – offense) Coach Pep (Hamilton). It was a privilege."

On if he is anxious at all not definitively knowing where he will play next season:

"I can't – like I always tell you guys, I am a firm believer in God and I just walk with Him. Wherever He is going to put me, He is going to put me, and it is going to be for a reason. If it is staying here, which I don't mind at all – I love this place, I love Cleveland, I love the fans here, it is amazing and just the people in general, just nice people around, walking around, shopping, grocery shopping, whatever. That is important."

DB Jamar Taylor:

On confidence that the Browns can improve moving forward:

"Very confident. I think this year was really about (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson) seeing what he had in the locker room. We had a lot of young guys so they had to get the experience, but now everybody, they are vets now. The young guys are not young anymore so next year, after having a whole offseason, you look at their season, it goes college to training to the NFL Combine and pro day so those guys have not had a break. You get those guys to have a real NFL offseason, they can work on their weaknesses and you have us older guys know what to expect from our coaches. Now, we can kind of just build off that and try to build something special."

On what the Browns need to do to make a jump forward next season:

"We just have to [gel] together, really. I think we needed the experience, which we got so now we have a better foundation to kind of work off of."

On Head Coach Hue Jackson's departing message to the team:

"Just come back better. Come back better. Come back with a mindset to win. That is another thing, you have to have a mindset that you are going to win. This league, all games are going to be tough games, especially AFC North games when you look at the history. It was really just expect to win, find some way, somehow, how we did a couple weeks ago. We have to play like that every week."

On explaining his personal turnaround this season:

"First and foremost, God and then coaches that believe in you. When you get coaches that believe in you – I said this plenty of times – it can change a player tremendously. I know a lot of guys around the league, it does not work out for them the first team – I am not the first guy – and they go somewhere else and they ball and make Pro Bowls and things like that. You are like, 'Where did this guy come from?' It is the same guy that he was in college or wherever he was before. It is just he has some coaches that put him in good situations that let him just do his thing."

On how beneficial it will be for the Browns to have continuity with the coaching staff next season:

"It is great just because guys kind of know what to expect. Obviously, the coaches are going to be amped up a little more, but they know what they have and you know what the coaches expect out of you. You know the ins and outs from the offense and the defense. Now, you can take away all the gray. This year, we all have been kind of just trying to learn, trying to learn how they want it. Now, we kind of have a base and we can just pick it up from where we left off, but we have to be way better."

OL Joe Thomas:

On if he believes the Browns' future is bright:

"I do. The track that we are on, the trajectory is a good one. I think starting with keeping the staff in place, keeping the management team in place, I think the stated goal this offseason is to bring in some free agents, re-sign some of our young quality players that we have here. Obviously, everybody knows about the number of draft picks we have. The path we are is great. We have the right head coach, and we have the right management team. Definitely, things are looking up for the Cleveland Browns."

On the outlook of the OL:"It is really bright. We have a lot of quality players to choose from. I am sure we will draft an offensive lineman in the draft. Once we get the guys that are hurt back healthy, I think we have a really quality offensive line. If you look at some of the guys that got hurt, we really lost three starters that got hurt on the offensive line fairly early in the year with (OL) Austin Reiter, who came in and was a starter getting hurt in his first game after playing really well in his first game; obviously, (OL) Joel (Bitonio) gets hurt; and later in the season, (OL) John (Greco) gets hurt. Really, that is your inside three right there. That is tough for any team to replace."

On why he trusts the Browns to execute during the 2017 NFL Draft and free agency:

"Because I have had the good fortune of spending a lot of time with them kind of picking their brain about their process and about their decision making. I think after my 10 years in the NFL and my experiences that I have had, our ideas align pretty closely with how to build a team and the most efficient, effective way to build a roster and what is going to give you the best probability to have success in free agency and in the draft because no matter who you are, you are not going 100 percent in the draft. What you want to do is set up your management team with the right process that gives you the best chance because in the draft, it is still a shake of the dice, but what you want to do is try to get the odds in your favor as much as you possibly can. I think they are taking the right approach. I really agree with a lot of what their thoughts are on how to build a team."

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