Press Conference

Baker Mayfield: 'I hold myself to a high standard'

QB Baker Mayfield:

On if this game has special meaning with him returning to play in Texas: 

"Austin is the best city in Texas (laughter). I will have plenty of people there – friends and family, loved ones and all those good people there – but I have to treat it like any other game and have to go do our job." 

On Cowboys QB Dak Prescott's and the Cowboys' offense's performance and if he anticipates it will be an offensive shootout on Sunday: 

"I think Dak is a great player. A tremendous amount of respect for him, the leader and the person he is. When it comes down to it, we are playing the Cowboys defense and we have to do whatever it takes to win. If that is a shootout, then great, and if it is another game where we have to control the clock, then we will do that. Whatever it takes to win." 

On playing in AT&T Stadium again: 

"It is always fun to play there. Growing up, seeing the high school state championships there and then playing there a couple times in college, it is a great stadium, and like I said, I am going to have a lot of friends and family there so it will be a fun one." 

On if it is extra meaningful for RB Nick Chubb to compete against another top RB like Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott: 

"Probably not to be honest with you. Zeke is a great back, but Nick just does his job. It does not matter who he is playing against, if it is on air or if it is against 30 people on the field, he is going to do his job every time and he is going to be extremely focused. That is why we love having him on our team." 

On if Chubb ever asks to be fed the ball in the huddle: 

"No." 

On if he has a comfort level going to all the Browns receivers at this point in the season: 

"Yeah, I think that is what I have been trying to do is trust and listen to my feet, go through the reeds and not force any balls but just get the ball in the playmakers' hands and let them do what the are paid to do. We have a great skill group, and need to trust those guys." 

On the balance of the Browns offense, given he targeted eight different receivers in the last two games: 

"Right now, we are just distributing the ball, not letting teams take away one guy and panic. Try and get the ball out, trust my guys whoever it is to get the ball in their hands and let them do the work and distribute it. Some games are going to go definitely than others, but it is going to happen that way sometimes, and sometimes a game might have more receptions for one guy than the other. It is just the flow of the game, and we have to be ready to adapt." 

On what stands out most about the Cowboys defense: 

"Their front. They have a great front, some great players that have been doing it for a while back. (Cowboys DE) Aldon Smith, it is good seeing him back and playing well. (Cowboys LB) Jaylon Smith, an unbelievable player and his range and what he can do sideline to sideline coverages is pretty special. They have some great guys, and they are mixing the secondary around a little bit. We just have to go up there with the same mindset when we played Washington, attack that front and go from there." 

On what he feels best about from his play so far and where he can improve: 

"I think distributing the ball. and then I think when we have our shot that we have drawn up we have the right look, taking advantage of those opportunities. Like the one the other day with (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.), the ball just came out of my hand funky. I would like to just put that ball on the back pylon and let him run up and make a play under it. He had a shake round on the sideline and just kind of air mailed it and did not have my feet in the right spot. When we have they plays that we have scripted up for the right looks, taking advantage of those, but I think the best part of what I have done so far is just listen to my feet, distribute the ball and recognize and react." 

On his memories of the Cowboys as a kid growing up in Texas and if he had a favorite player on the team: 

"I was actually a Packers fan because of (Pro Football Hall of Fame QB) Brett Favre. I remember the one and only NFL game I ever went to before playing in a game, the Cowboys were playing the Giants I think in a Wild Card game and (Pro Football Hall of Fame QB) Troy Aikman was still playing. My dad's friend got us on the field, and I got to meet him down there – there are no pictures to prove it; that is a family internal issue (laughter) – but that was the one only time I was in there and that was in the old Cowboys stadium on the Astroturf." 

On if AT&T Stadium does not feel like a football stadium, given its intricacies: 

"Not to take it for granted, but because I have been in there quite a few times throughout high school and college… That screen is pretty breathtaking. It is an extremely nice facility. Up until I think the new L.A. stadium, it was the nicest one in the country. It is quite the facility." 

On holding himself to a high standard and being critical of his play this year: 

"I just think I need to play it the best I possibly can. That is some of those pre-snap things that I know I can handle better and some of the footwork and all that. I can do that better compared to what I did against Washington so I just need to be able to execute. Yeah, that is holding myself to a high standard, but like I said earlier, doing whatever it takes to win." 

On the Cowboys defense giving up a few deep plays in the passing game last week and if that is something the Browns will look to do: 

"Not to keep reiterating myself, but whatever it takes to win. If they have safeties down and we have one-on-one matchups, we are going to take those shots, but if they are going to take away that, then we need to be able to complete balls underneath and hand the ball off." 

On if this game will be special for DE Myles Garrett, who is a native of Arlington: 

"Yeah, I think it is just another huge opportunity for us. I know Myles knows what is on the line for us. Like I said after the game, split the season into four quarters and this is the final game in that first quarter. It is a huge one for us, and Myles is going to have opportunities to change the game for us. I know he is looking forward to doing it in front of friends and family, as well as I am." 

On Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb and if he expected Lamb to be this effective early in his career: 

"CeeDee is extremely special. Just from the time when he stepped on campus as a true freshman, I knew he was going to be special. He just has that 'it' factor. It is something you can't teach and can't coach it. He is a dog when he steps on the field. He has that mentality, I have said it before, and it stays true. He is who he is, and he will do whatever it takes to win, and that is why I know the Cowboys are probably loving having him on their on their team."

RB Nick Chubb:

On how much of his cutbacks runs are based on his decision or something the coaches have mentioned to him: 

"The play is designed to hit either the front side or the backside so it is just a matter of what I see or how the line blocks it. Nobody is telling me to run them. That has never happened so it is not that."

On if playing against elite NFL RBs like Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott adds extra motivation or excitement: 

"I go out there and play my game."

On if it is important to him to be considered the best RB in the NFL: 

"Not at all."

On if there are games or moments where he gets into a special zone, gets into another gear and feels that nobody can stop him: 

"Not really. When I get in the open field, I know it is hard for safeties to tackle me. I think that is what it is. When I get in the open field, it might look different because I am probably running with more confidence and power because I know those guys are not really going to have a chance to tackle me."

On if he feels unstoppable in the moment during certain plays, like a goal line run: 

"I am not sure how I feel. It all happens so fast for me. I just know that if I am that close to the end zone, I have to get in no matter what. That is probably the extra drive that gets me in there."

On how the Browns OL has helped RB Kareem Hunt and him produce: 

"They have done a great job. Those big guys up front have really gotten things going for us and opened up big holes that we can all run through. I think it speaks to them working hard and wanting to improve the running game and the pass game, taking pride in what we do and also the coaching. (Offensive line) Coach (Bill) Callahan gets after them every day, and that turns over and leads to the game."

On G Wyatt Teller's impact on offense: 

"Wyatt has been doing a great job this year. He has improved so much from last year, and it is very noticeable just to see him play. He has so much more energy and so much more swag, and he is fun to run behind."

On his confidence the Browns can win by playing with different styles in a game, whether it is a shootout or controlling the ball: 

"We just have to find a way to win no matter what it is. Whatever it takes, we have to find a way to win. We have to get points to do that against this team. Whatever it takes for us to do, we are going to find a way to do it."

On how it feels knowing Head Coach Kevin Stefanski will remain committed to the running game, even after dirty runs for short or no gain: 

"It feels good. He trusts in this team and trusts in the offense to get it done. Those 3-yard runs, 2-yard runs do not feel like much, but it does have an effect on the defense, and sooner or later, we will pop one open and break one. We have to be patient and stick with it."

On how QB Baker Mayfield has played this season and if it is encouraging that Mayfield is holding himself to a high standard: 

"Yeah, it is. I know Baker is always going to be Baker. He is always going to find a way to improve and be better. I think he is doing a great job for us. He has been making the passes that we need him to make. I think that is good. He has been playing well."

On WR KhaDarel Hodge's blocking: 

"Hodge is one of the better blockers I have been around. I see it in practice and in the game. He is always downfield blocking. It shows a lot. It might seem small, but if he does not block that guy, that is one that we have to make miss or makes the tackle. He has been doing great blocking down the field."

C JC Tretter:

On if there are NFL guidelines noting whether a team is required to have a certain number of practice days in order to play, given reports of the Steelers-Titans game being postponed: 

"I do not think there is anything written in there, and still a lot depends on the testing. We will continue to track the testing as this week goes on and make sure we are trending in the right direction. That is really the big thing right now, but I do not think there is anything written about a mandatory certain amount of days of preparation."

On reports of the Titans-Steelers game being postponed and what concerns that creates about future implications or cases at teams: 

"I think the big thing like we talked about last time I talked to you guys is needing to keep this top of mind and understanding that this virus is still out there. It is easy to fall into a sense of ease or relax on some of the protocols, but the protocols are what is keeping us going and following those protocols and making sure we make the right decisions. The protocols are now in effect of contact tracing and testing and keeping people out of the facility to stop any further spread. We have been going really smoothly for a long time, and now there is some expectation that this was eventually going to happen. It is tough to keep the virus completely out, but now it is about everybody making good decisions and protocols going into effect and working from here on out."

On if he or the NFLPA was consulted on the decision to postpone the game: 

"I think that is more the NFL sets the schedule. There are some rules that are in effect, but the NFL sets the schedule. Again, we still have to track the testing and make sure we trend in the right direction that everybody is safe to go and play that game."

On his op-ed about the challenges of playing on field turf as opposed to grass fields and if he expects it will be a focus for the union moving forward: 

"The data stands out. Those numbers are staggering in the difference in injury rate between turf and natural grass. It is possible to get grass in every location. It is about pushing for that. Like I said in the article, we all should be working towards the safest style of play, and we know the dangers of playing on turf. That is not good for anybody – it is not good for players, it is not good for the GMs and head coaches, it is not good for the owners and it is not good for the fans. Increased injuries are not good for anybody. Until we can find a way to get synthetic turf to respond and react like natural grass, it is too much of a danger to continue to play on and expect different results. This data was from an extended amount of time. It is clear that it is one of the main causes of these increased injuries, and I think we need to start doing something about that."

On how the NFLPA can push for more natural grass fields: 

"There are multiple steps to take. We have a committee of engineers who look into this. The first step is getting a better testing regimen on how we test these surfaces. The Clegg test tests for hardness but not for performance and safety. We need to get better league wide on all surfaces and a better testing procedure to make sure we are playing on the safest surfaces possible. That is about continuing to push to provide us with the safest work environment possible. If we know grass is significantly more safe than synthetic turf, it is about continuing to push forward and making it a priority. Player safety will always be a priority for us and for the union. Just making that push every single day and making sure we are providing the safest work environment possible."

On if the topic of turf compared to grass came up during the recent CBA negotiations: 

"I was not on the executive committee at the time so I do not know if it came up in in bargaining. It is something that from here on out I think we need to make a priority."

On if the injuries the 49ers sustained at MetLife Stadium factored into the timing of his column: 

"It definitely sparked an interest in writing it. I try to wait until each month to have something that is kind of top of mind to talk about so that was the issue, but this data did not even include last season and this season. This is not even taking into effect what has gone on the last two years. It has been pretty clear for a while. Again, I know how it how it feels anecdotally. I know how my body responds playing on turf versus playing on grass. I know how much I prefer to play on grass. The data backs that up. That is the main reason for writing it."

On his confidence that the Browns offense can put up points in the pass game against the Cowboys, given the Cowboys offense's potential: 

"I feel confident in that. I think our offense is going pretty well. Again, we have been able to run the ball well, and that marries up with the run and the pass. That is what we want is to not have the defense be able to know exactly what we are doing, whether it is a runner or a pass, and we have great action and great keeps. I think (QB) Baker (Mayfield) has done a really good job."

On how the Browns OL has come together in the past three games:

"They had plenty of work together. Obviously, I was the guy that was not out there with them during training camp, but the guards and tackles worked together plenty in the training camp time. I have obviously worked with (G) Wyatt (Teller) and definitely (G) Joel (Bitonio) for a long time now. I think that was never a concern about how we were going to gel together. There was plenty of time to get that done. Especially with the type of offense we run, you know what the footwork is supposed to be, you know where you are supposed to be and how you are supposed to get there and it is all about marring up and making sure we are all on the same page, which we have plenty of meetings and getting all on the same page is never really a concern for us. We have a lot of experience, and we are able to go out there and we are coached up well."

On how RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt push each other and how key their relationship is to making the offense work:

"They just care about winning. I think they are both big fans of each other, and they both are excited when the other one does well. We are fortunate enough to have two extremely talented running backs who run the ball hard, run the ball well and take advantage of any crease we can give them. It is great for us as an offensive line to have two guys like that behind you, knowing they are going to make you right and they are going to make big plays in the run game and make our job easier."

On if it is challenging balancing being NFLPA President and preparing for a game: 

"Just an added responsibility. I do not think it is too troubling or too much of an issue. You always have some bit of free time during the season anyways. Instead of playing video games or scrolling on your phone, you are doing something with the union now. It is not that big of an issue. You have an off day on Tuesday where you can get a lot of your stuff done, and obviously, something seems to always pop up. You are just available whenever you can to help out with that."

On offensive holding calls being down across the NFL this year and a recent report that enforcement of offensive holding is a bit more lax this year by design:

"I am not going to complain too much about that. Not too much of a worry for me. I think it shows that we were able to prepare even with the limited offseason and play with good fundamentals. I think that acclimation period was really good for players as it let you instead of being thrown right into 11-on-11 and thrown right into team drills and competitive drills, it gives you a bunch of time to work with your coaches on fundamentals, especially the offensive line of getting your footwork down and getting your hand placement down. I think that was a big advantage of getting guys their technique down early on in training camp, and I think that is translating to the game, as well."

On the physical difference of playing on field turf compared to grass:

"Usually, I know going in the next day is going to be the issue so if we have to for whatever reason have really bad weather and have to go indoors and play on turf, I know my joints, my lower extremity joints are going to be stiffer and more swollen. That is something you kind of understand going into it and you kind of dread a little bit knowing that is it just going to be harder to get your body back where you want it by Sunday. That is just kind of the feel. Then you add in the increase in injury rate just based off how synthetic turf is built differently than grass and grass' ability to tear away and release your ankles or your knees from being in compromised situations. Turf is not built that way. You have kind of two different issues. You have one, the pounding of just being on a hard surface on turf and just that constant pounding, and second, when you get put and you put so much force and so much torque in the ground, when you are doing that, eventually something has to give in certain situations. Usually, the grass is what is going to give and better release your ankle or release your knee in that compromised situation. When you are turf, the turf is not going to give and it is not going to rip away. It is going to be your joint that is the one that has to give. That is why you see kind of a higher injury." 

On if it means something to the rest of the Browns offense that Chubb gets the recognition of being one of the best RBs in the league, given Chubb does not seem to be phased by it:

"I do not think any of us get caught up in outside praise. I think we want both Nick and Kareem to run for a bunch of yards and be supper successful. I do not think we worry about rankings or anything that kind of is people's opinions. We want our two backs to be extremely successful running the ball, put up great numbers and continue to do that. I think Nick is the type of guy, too, that does not worry about any of that. He just cares about winning, and we are in the same boat. We just want to perform on the field and not worry too much about where guys stand in the public eye. We are just focused on what happens on the field."

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