Press Conference

Baker Mayfield: 'There has definitely been a lot of improvement'

QB Baker Mayfield:

On how eager he is to play and see what the offense looks like in a regular game season game, given his comments on his play last year:

"It has nothing to do with last year. I am just excited to get back out there again. It has been a long time since we have been on a field playing football. Without the preseason games, we have been going against each other for a long time so it will be good to go up against somebody else."

On the impression NFL teams with new offenses and new coaches may start off slower than usual due to the changes to the offseason and training camp:

"That could be an excuse if you wanted to use it, but we are not doing that. We know what we have to do. We have installed everything. We are putting together a good gameplan, and we will have that ready to roll. Everybody just has to go out there and execute it. It is not about what's happened and the adversity. It is about how you can handle those things. That is just our motto."

On if improving his focus has been something he intentionally worked on or if it is something that has happened organically:

"I think it is organic. I think the guys see when they come back – we had not seen each other in so long – the physical differences and all that and just the mental work of trying to learn this off and pick it up quickly. They noticed those types of things. I think it is organic."

On if things potentially came too easily to him during his rookie season, given he has stated he wants to prove himself this year after last season's results:

"I would not say that. Good things happened and laid down a stretch when we had the coaching change and just kind of let it fly. Yeah, out to prove but to be much better than what I have shown in the two years prior."

On if he has been able to improve in the past few weeks and if he has been able to take a strong step forward in learning the new offense:

"Yes, I would have to agree. Improved over the training camp session, just based on it is one thing to learn the offense over Zoom meetings but then go out there and practice and rep it and really get a feel for it. Yeah, there has definitely been a lot of improvement."

On the chemistry with the Browns offense:

"I feel good about it. Like you said, it is an offense where there is a lot of accountability. You have to be where you are supposed to be and be there on time. The same goes for my reads. Listen to the footwork, go through the reads, trust that and trust that they are going to call plays to get the ball into people's hands."

On the importance of starting the season with a win against the Ravens, given the win at Baltimore early last season:

"It is obviously a big game. Obviously, a very great opponent, but not only that, the division games, they count more when you look at the standings in the end. It is a very important game for us against a great team."

On being only the sixth NFL QB to be drafted in the first round and play under three head coaches in his first three seasons and if that is a defining factor of his career thus far:

"First of all, it is a wild stat. No, it is not a defining thing for me. Like I said, it could be an excuse if you use it, but that is not what I am doing here. Singular focus on this year and what we can do, and that is the ultimate goal so move forward."

On if he has spent time watching the tape from last season's win at Baltimore and if that is relevant to this week:

"I think all tape when you play a division opponent that keeps the same coordinators is all relevant to see how they are trying to scheme you up to defend your whole team. Obviously, it is a new year, and not only is it new for us, but they have a lot of new personnel, as well. Yeah, you have a base gameplan, but since we do not have any preseason film to go off of, go out there, execute our plays and adapt."

On the importance of being more accurate this year:

"Completing passes is very important to getting the ball in the playmakers' hands. I would say it is pretty important."

On if he was satisfied with his accuracy during training camp:

"There is always room for improvement. I have not gone perfect in a game yet so there is always room for improvement."

On how much his accuracy relates to his comfort level with the new offensive system:

"I think a little bit of half and half. Realizing that once you have the plans down, just go out there and execute it. It is not all new at a certain point once you rep it. Just go out there and execute it."

On his pact with DE Myles Garrett to step up as leaders and how he views his leadership role:

"I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Myles and I being brought here the two years in a row just to be culture changes. To turn this thing around, it is not a quick process, but we both felt that we can do more and that we are definitely capable of it. It is not a burden. That is something that we are blessed with is to be able to be in a position to help turn this thing around. We took it upon ourselves to take responsibility, but we know it is not all on us. We have to lead and we have to show guys by example, but we have great guys around us that we can count on."

On the gold bracelet he wears on his wrist:

"It is a Christmas gift from my wife."

On RB Kareem Hunt signing a contract extension and the RB tandem of Hunt and RB Nick Chubb:

"I think we are all extremely happy for Kareem. Proud of him for the work he has put in and for the changes he has made. To be here in his hometown, everybody is happy for him. He is a vital part of our team, mentality-wise and culture-wise, but then on the field, obviously, his skills and his play speaks for itself. Just having a guy to help take some of that load off of Nick, but also at the same time, teams have to gameplan for both of them. They are two different players, two different runners. It is great to have those guys on our team."

On Chubb's leadership and his contributions to the desired culture change with the Browns:

"Silent assassin. Does not speak much, but when he does, it carries weight. He has always been a guy to lead by example. That is just how some guys are. You do not want him to be anybody he is not. We are going ask him to do that, but we do not have to ask him; he does it every day."

On how Head Coach Kevin Stefanski has impacted the Browns' culture:

"The accountability in the sense of I think everybody just has to do their job. The mentality of we are counting on everybody on this building, not only players but staff and everybody that has a hand in the pot to do their job to help us win, it is about winning."

On if there is a higher level of confidence returning to Baltimore after beating them at home last season when it wasn't necessarily expected externally:

"No, to be honest with you, last year does not matter. They are a great team. The last part of that season, if you are counting that, they were on a roll. It is a new year, new personnel and new coaching staff for us. It is a clean slate on our minds."

On the Ravens defense and secondary:

"Obviously, you said it, a great opponent. You have good players all around. They are asking (Ravens S) DeShon Elliott, who is a guy that I played against in college, to step up and fill that role, (Free agent S) Earl Thomas is gone now. They have strong players in the backend. Not only that, they are pretty strong defensively overall. It is fun to watch and see how they were and I think for us to be able to go out there and react to scheme-wise, if they are any different, the things they change up so I am interested in seeing that."

On his relationship with Baylor QB Charlie Brewer and Brewer's family:

"(ESPN beat writer) Jake Trotter might actually know more about that than I do (laughter). The Brewer family grew up in Lake Travis. (Former Texas Tech QB) Michael (Brewer) was the quarterback ahead of me in high school. He was two years older so I was always over at their house. A great family. Their dad played at Texas. Their uncle was an Oklahoma guy. A very football rich family and tradition is all there. Charlie was a youngster and kind of came into his own. Three or four years younger than me, I think four, but just always watched him and kept in touch with him. I actually talked to him a couple of days ago. He is doing well. I am happy for him to be able to get out there and play another year."

On how high Brewer's ceiling could be:

"As high as he wants it. I think there are enough guys that are around our size to prove that it does not matter how tall you are, but the production speaks for itself. I am hoping and praying for a great season for Charlie to be able to take that next step to the next level."

RB Kareem Hunt:

On his contract extension:

"I am just grateful. I have to thank everybody in the building from top to bottom. It is an honor to be here, especially in my hometown. I also want to thank (former Chiefs and Browns General Manager) John Dorsey. He has done a lot for me and done the whole NFL process with me by drafting me and bringing me here. I could not thank him enough either. It is a lot going on right now. Family is happy, and I am happy." 

On his personal expectations for his season:

"I feel like I can definitely have a big season by anything by how I can contribute. Even if I do not get the ball, just making plays and using me and stuff like that. I am just excited to now be under (Head Coach Kevin) Stefanski in his zone-scheme offense and stuff like that. He is a great coach, and I am excited about the way he uses two running backs." 

On his conversations with RB Nick Chubb about his contract extension and if he would like to keep the RB tandem together with the Browns for a long time:

"I would definitely love to be a tandem here with Nick for a long time. Nick is a great back. He is definitely one of those backs who can take it to the house at any moment. Our conversations are still the same. We are really good buddies and we look out for each other. That is how it is going to be." 

On how he and Chubb work so well together:

"The biggest thing is we have the same goals. We want to win. No matter how, we just want to find a way to win. We do not get selfish or anything like that. We share it with each other. We know it is only one football. I am happy for Nick because he is still going to go out there and perform at a high level like I know he is." 

On how he has grown closer with Chubb since joining the team:

"Pretty much, we got to know each other a little bit more. I already knew about him when I first signed and knew what kind of running back he was, too. It just evolved by us communicating. He knows a lot more about me now, and I know a lot more about him. Just communicating with each other and then always going out there and pushing each other, showing up to practice, pushing each other, working each other and getting better." 

On if the approach he and Chubb take has spread to teammates:

"Yeah, I believe so. I would hope so because stuff like that is contagious." 

On the financial aspects of his contract extension, given other top NFL RBs have signed for more annual money while believing he is also a top NFL RB:

"I believe that, but I am happy I am home. I really just want to go out there and win and do everything in my power to bring a championship to Cleveland. I have my whole family here and everybody I love and care about, and I know everything about Cleveland. I definitely feel I stack up with the best of the best, but hopefully, in two or three years, everybody will see that." 

On if he feels that he owed the Browns a debt of gratitude for giving him an opportunity when it seemed like no one else would when considering the financial aspect of the contract extension:

"I would not say that I owe them. I respect them a lot for giving me another opportunity."  

On liking the way Stefanski uses RBs:

"I just like the way he likes to run the game through the backs and stuff like that. That is what I mean. He likes to find ways to get the backs the ball." 

On if the Browns offense can still incorporate the creativity using two RBs on the field at once, given how the offseason program and training camp changes may have impacted the ability to install the offense:

"Yes, I do. I definitely believe that. We are going to find out here in about five days."  

On expectations for QB Baker Mayfield in Year 3:

"I expect Baker to come out and get the ball in the playmakers' hands and just be more comfortable out there and have a big year. He looked great. He has looked great all camp and has been doing a great job of being a leader of the offense." 

On if he noticed Mayfield 'doubting himself' at the end of last season, given Mayfield's own comments about last season:

"I guess. I would not say I noticed that, but he would notice better than anybody. You have to be confident out there on that field, have faith in yourself and just know you can the make plays. He has looked awesome all year. We are not talking about last year. It is a new year." 

On if the Browns have been able to build a strong chemistry, despite the changes to the offseason and training camp:

"Yeah, I believe that. We have been clicking at practice here lately. I definitely believe that we are going to be just fine." 

On if he liked the way Stefanski helped build team chemistry during the offseason program by sharing stories about their past:

"Oh, yeah, that helped. I learned a lot about a lot of people who I might not have ever heard their story. Just by doing that, I was able to learn things about people I probably would not talk to that much, but I would always talk to everybody. I learned some things about people I did not know things about. That was a good way to do it. It brought us closer at the team. I have those guys' backs."

C JC Tretter:

On how his knee is feeling and if he plans to play on Sunday:

"Knee is feeling good. We have been on a pretty good pace, doing the right thing, taking it and ramping up the right way. We are just going to continue that this week and make sure that everything is going the right way. It will just to continue to progress as the week goes on."

On if he will be a game-time decision or be known later in the week:

"We have been on a good pace so far. You have to continue to monitor it and make sure that it is doing everything you want it to be able to do."

On if there was ever a time that he was unsure the season would begin on time, given COVID-19 and his role as NFLPA President:

"Obviously, when we were in a full nationwide lockdown for most, you are a little skeptical in how this is going to trend. I think so far we have done a really good job, but something to remember is previous successes do not mean anything in the future. We can do all the right things for these last six weeks to get this point, but being successful moving forward comes from doing the right things continually. Just because we have done really well for six weeks does not give us any advantage or anything moving forward. We have to continue to do all the things we have been doing these last six weeks in order to keep going. That is what we said from the get go. We felt pretty good about getting started, but you have to keep working to make sure we can continue the season and get all the way through a full year and crown the Super Bowl champion."

On if the NFLPA will have a policy in place or recommendations related to national anthem protests:

"No, I think when it happened the first time, we made sure to protect our players' rights and the right to do what they want, voice their opinions and have their rights protected. I think the main issue for me is making sure we continue to talk about it through the right lens. Too often, we get talking about who is kneeling and who is not kneeling and not talking about why we are kneeling. They are kneeling to bring awareness to social injustice and police brutality. Too often, we just talk about the action and not why we are doing this thing. Now, we have gotten to the point where you see a lot of clubs and their players working through kind of action items of how to make the situation better and improve. I think that is where the conversation should be talking about, not about what they are going to do or what they did but more of what they are going to do moving forward and not just sticking to what their actions were but we are going to continue to do to solve and help right these wrongs."

On fighting so hard to hopefully be physically able to play Week 1 and throughout in his career:

"You do not want to miss games and you do not want to miss plays. Myself and (G) Joel (Bitonio) both have a nice little run going together being out there for every play since we got here together in Cleveland. You just want to take advantage of every chance. You are not going to play forever. You want to make sure you are out there and taking advantage of all the chances we get. A lot of it is a pride thing of making sure you are out there and available. That is the one real statistic you can have as an offensive lineman is availability. You always want to be available for your team to help your team win."

On if he and Bitonio have a goal of keeping their offensive snaps streak going:

"If we are up 30 against a team, I think we will be OK breaking that streak and coming out rested (laughter). We want to be out there as much as possible."

On his decision to have a procedure on his knee and his rehab process:

"The knee flared up early on, and you have to make a really tough decision because there is no obvious answer. You can sit with it and try to manage it the rest of the year, and there is no guarantee that you are able to get it under control or you go and get fixed, correct the issues and then rehab as hard as you can to try to get back and not miss any time. I wrestled over what the right answer would be or what the best answer would be. In the end, I think we landed on the right answer. Behind the scenes, we just worked really hard. I give a lot of credit to the training staff. When we made the decision to go in and get it scoped, the conversation was how do I get back in time for the first game, we put a plan in place and we continue to push through that and make sure we are checking all the boxes. We will continue to do that the rest of the week, make sure everything is working right and we can continue moving forward." 

On if the knee scope was tied to his knee injury listed on the injury report late last season:

"It is tough to get into the medical reasons. I think if you walk into that locker room, especially the big guys, probably 70 percent need a scope of some nature at some point. It is tough to say what was the cause or what led to it. That is just the game we play. I think you can see it with statistics about guys needing a knee replacement or hip replacement. This is a grinding position. It takes a lot out of you physically. It is tough to pinpoint what the exact cause of a surgery like this." 

On if it will be a significant challenge to fit into the Browns OL and have chemistry after not working with the offense throughout training camp:

"I do not think so. I think we have our techniques. Everybody knows what footwork and what steps they are supposed to take, and then you just take the right steps and we are all aligned. I am not worried about that at all." 

On if he has seen a change in the culture of the Browns this year, given QB Baker Mayfield and DE Myles Garrett both made a commitment to having a leadership role on that front:

"Yeah, and even (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski has done a really good job of building a team and a team atmosphere of us all getting to know each other and buying in and really fighting for each other. That has been pretty clear to see. I think that has been something that has been different where we are really starting to get to know each other as people and not just teammates. That was something Coach Stefanski has really preached over this training camp and the offseason. I think you can feel that. We are still a young team and still pretty new team coming together but that will continue. I think we are on a good pace." 

On if he is still staying in the team hotel or has returned home with his wife:

"I have gone back home. I am back home now." 

On if he has seen a change in Mayfield's mindset and approach this season:

"Baker has always been a competitor. That has always come out of him. I think he looks great and super dialed in. Now that we are starting to get into game weeks and game plans, this is when the great communication and the great conversations of kind of digesting and dissecting the other team each and every week. This is the fun part. This is where all that work comes into play where you prepare all training camp and you go through kind of your normal looks, and now, you get week after week a new change. I think Baker has done a great job of that in the past, and I think will continue to do that of just dissecting another defense, understanding what they are trying to do to us and getting us in the right spots."

RB Nick Chubb:

On RB Kareem Hunt signing a contract extension:

"I am excited about that. I get to play ball with Kareem for however many more years we have, and that is a great thing for me, a great thing for this team and for this city." 

On Hunt's growth since coming to Cleveland:

"It is crazy because the Kareem I know, he is just a great person ever since he has been here. He has become one of my great friends on the team. We hang out every day because we are running backs. Even beyond that, we still talk about everything. He is easy to talk to. He is a fun guy to be around."  

On the possibility of C JC Tretter returning and how important Tretter is to the run game:

"It is huge for us. JC has been playing this game for a while. He is an older vet. He is very wise, very athletic and makes the right calls and gets us in the right position. He is a baller so we are happy to have him back." 

On if strides are being made with QB Baker Mayfield and DE Myles Garrett taking it upon themselves to be leaders in helping change the team's culture:

"Yeah, I see it. Just the biggest point of last year is it just push us all to do things different. We are pushing each other, hold each other accountable and go out there every day and give our all in practice." 

On if it will be an adjustment playing without fans at M&T Bank Stadium:

"I am not sure. It will definitely be different, but I can just imagine it being like practice. No fans are here at practice and we still have good days, we still come out here with high intensity and we still get after it, or like a scrimmage maybe. It is no different in a scrimmage or in a game. We are going to go out there and give it our all. We are going to ignore everything else anyways." 

On how Head Coach Kevin Stefanski's offensive scheme can benefit the running game:

"I think he brought the right guys in, and we all play for each other. We know our assignments. We know what needs to get done in order to make all the runs work. I think it starts up front. Those guys being great for us and the running backs making the right reads and cuts." 

On if he is even more encouraged to stay in Cleveland long term after Hunt signed his contract extension and if the two can be a special RB tandem for years to come:

"I hope so. Definitely. I would not mind staying here with Kareem and staying with the Browns for as long as I can. It definitely would be special if we could do that. I look forward to playing with him this season and for more to come." 

On what he and Hunt are capable of doing together and what makes them so special as a tandem:

"I think it gives the defense a hard time having to plan for us and scheme for us because they do not know what we are going to do and they do not know how we are going to be used or utilized in the system. I think it can be special if we find the right way to utilize us, keep us both on the field or have certain plays for both of us." 

On the changes the Ravens made to their run defense after his big performance last season:

"We know they are still the Baltimore Ravens and the things they like to do best. As a whole, they are big, physical and they play hard and are high-motor guys. It will definitely be a challenge for us." 

On how Mayfield has handled multiple coaching changes in his career and if there is anything he has done to help Mayfield:

"I have been here too with him so it is for both of us. Him being the quarterback, there is a lot more on his plate. I think he handles it well. In every situation, he is always composed and he is ready. We believe in him. We trust him. We know he is going to make the right decision for us. There is never a question about him not being able to handle any situation." 

On if he was aware of Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh's comments about the Browns having the 'two best running backs by their account':

"No, I was not aware of it, and it has no impact on me at all."  

On what he remembers most from his big game last season at Baltimore:

"I do not know. It was kind of a long time ago." 

On if his performance at Baltimore last year gives him extra confidence going into Sunday's game:

"Not at all. It is a new year, a new game." 

On the changes for the team from the start of last season to now, given the high expectations prior to 2019:

"I am not sure. I like not having the noise around us. They can just take it somewhere else. Let us focus on ourselves. Let us keep playing." 

On if that mindset embodies who he is as a teammate and how he works:

"I think so. That is how I approach it myself and how I approach each day, just not worrying about anything else. Just focus on home and make sure we are right here first."

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