INDIANAPOLIS — It was another busy day at the 2022 NFL Combine, and it was Browns coach Kevin Stefanski's turn to take to the podium for the first time since the conclusion of the 2021 regular season.
Here are five of the top highlights.
1. Stefanski in touch with Baker, excited to see him back for workouts
Stefanski said he's been swapping text messages with QB Baker Mayfield as the fifth-year signal-caller continues his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.
"I have texted with Baker and texted with a bunch of the guys," Stefanski said. "I have not been able to visit anyone. I could have gone to Kenya with (DE) Myles (Garrett). I passed on that one. Just try to stay in touch with our guys but also understanding this is a dead period so you want to give them space right now."
Stefanski said he wasn't concerned by any potential mechanical issues that could come as a result from Mayfield playing with a harness on his injured shoulder for most of the 2021 season. He's eager to see Mayfield back at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus for offseason workouts in April and excited to see how Mayfield and the Browns' passing game can bounce back from an inconsistent, injury-filled 2021.
"Baker is a confident player. He has done it. We have all seen him do it, so I do not think he lacks for confidence," Stefanski said. "I think this is a great offseason for him to get healthy and then have an offseason together to get him in the building with the rest of the team, work together and try and get better. That is kind of our focus."
2. Staff changes were in 'best interest of the Browns'
Stefanski recently unveiled a number of changes and promotions on his coaching staff and reiterated Wednesday the moves were in "the best interest of the Browns."
Among the changes were a handful of shifts on the offensive staff, as Drew Petzing transferred from tight ends coach to quarterbacks coach with T.C. McCartney, who was an offensive assistant the past two years, taking over for Petzing with the tight ends.
"I think it is in the best interest of those guys, but most importantly, I think it is in the best interest of our staff," Stefanski said. "I think bringing in a different perspective into that room, adding T.C.'s voice into the tight end room, adding his voice and amplifying his voice, if you will, with the offensive staff, a lot of those moves are with the intention of doing our jobs a little bit better.
Petzing will work closely with offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, who will remain "the main, dominant voice" in the quarterbacks room.
"I think coupling AVP and Drew together, I think they will really work well together," Stefanski said.
Head Coach Kevin Stefanski speaks at his media availability at the 2022 NFL Combine in Indianapolis Indiana
3. Stefanski to remain offensive play-caller
After months of reviewing the ups and downs of a disappointing 2021 season, Stefanski confirmed he would remain the offensive play-caller entering his third season.
"Every offseason, I want to make sure that I am intentional about reflecting on everything we do," Stefanski said. "That is part of our operation and part of our process, if you will, and I think we can do it better.
"Like I have told you guys many, many times. AVP is a huge, huge part of what we do throughout the week and on gameday. We have ideas of how we can do that better. That is something that we have really spent time on, making sure we have everybody's voice and everybody has a way on gameday to contribute, if you will, and AVP is a huge part of that."
4. Praise for the young WRs
There's plenty of chatter about the Browns and top wide receiver prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, but Stefanski took some time to praise two of the team's younger, developing pass-catchers who will look to take on bigger roles in 2022.
Stefanski used WR Anthony Schwartz as an example when he was asked about how a player can impress teams during their pre-draft interviews. During that session, Schwartz proved to the Browns he'd be able to tackle whatever they threw at him, and it played a big part in the team using a third-round pick on him.
Schwartz battled through multiple injuries as a rookie and finished with 10 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown.
"With Anthony, it was really his mental makeup that impressed us right away. We knew he was a world-class sprinter, but until we got him on a Zoom in a Combine setting, then we understood what kind of learner he was," Stefanski said. "We felt confident he could come in and contribute with his versatility in terms of where he can line up. He was hampered by injuries a little bit and then had a concussion that he battled but made some plays for us this season, which you do not often see for a young guy. He can still run, and we are going to hopefully develop him in some of the finer points of route running."
Donovan Peoples-Jones saw his production boost in a big way from his rookie season to 2021, and he turned into one of the brightest spots for Cleveland's passing game, finishing with 34 catches for 597 yards and three touchdowns.
"Donovan is a guy who is steady for us and very, very trustworthy," Stefanski said. "Quarterbacks love throwing to him because he is going to be where he has to be every single time. Good ball skills. A guy who we are looking forward to taking another step forward."
5. Stefanski impressed by Myles' basketball skills
Stefanski didn't catch Myles Garrett live in action at the NBA's All-Star Celebrity Game, but he saw the highlights and came away impressed.
"He did a nice job," Stefanski said of Garrett, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. "He wanted to make sure he put his athleticism on display."
Though Stefanski said last offseason that Garrett had "retired" from basketball, he was just fine with the Pro Bowl pass rusher participating in the game because proceeds went to charity. It was a small part of a big weekend Stefanski was able to appreciate in his third year in Cleveland.
"I was able to go down Saturday night to the Dunk Contest and Three-Point Contest," Stefanski said. "Cleveland, the city, the fans and everybody did a great job."
The wide receivers speak at their media availability at the 2022 NFL Combine in Indianapolis Indiana