Included below are select quotes from interviews with the following Browns players during today's media availability:
- OL Joel Bitonio
- QB Cody Kessler
- QB DeShone Kizer
- QB Brock Osweiler
OL Joel Bitonio:
On how he feels:
"Good. I am feel really good actually. They let me run around a little bit and just be out there and warm up and go through individual and sweat a little bit with the team and stuff like that. It was awesome to be out there. I felt really good and strong. We are getting there."
On where he is in terms of his recovery:
"It is hard to say exactly, but I feel really good. They are obviously letting me do some stuff so it is a good step. We are still five-six weeks away from camp so I think we are moving in the right direction."
On how this offseason has differed from previous years:
"I haven't actually been able to practice, but just from watching, really competitive. (Defensive coordinator) Coach (Gregg) Williams brings a little fire himself, and (Head Coach) Hue (Jackson) is not afraid to shy away from that, either. I think just the two coaches kind of battling brings the energy to practice, and the players are trying to earn respect of the coaches on defense. We have a lot of new coaches so I think that always cranks up the competition. It is good, man. I have been a little jealous. I have been like, 'Man, let me get out there. Let me run just a couple plays.' It has been good. I am excited about what we are seeing and putting together another good practice today and kind of see where we are at."
On this year's OL playing to its potential and how much that can benefit the team:
"Last year, we obviously weren't good enough on the offensive line as a whole. We had injuries; we had young guys – there was no excuse. It was just kind of a collection of things, but if we can come together and produce the way we want to produce, I think it could lead to the ability to run the ball and take shots when you need to. If you have the ability to run the ball, it just opens up the whole offense, and I think that is our goal from the start is to be able to run the ball and then when we need to and take our shots and convert on third down. It really does, the offense starts up front. If you have time to throw the ball, people are going to get open. You can't cover guys for more than three seconds in this league. It is hard. If we can come together and really be the physical unit we can, I think it will really open up the offense."
On the OL's ability to make the four QBs look good by playing well up front:
"Correct. You kind of saw it in Dallas last year with (Cowboys QB) Dak (Prescott). I don't want to take anything away from him – he is a good young player in the league – but their offensive line really helped him out, when you are able to run the ball with (Cowboys RB Ezekiel) Elliott the way they did and then you can have Dak sit back there and make the throws he can. These quarterbacks are used to playing 7-on-7 their whole lives now so if they can come out there and try and do that, I think we put them in a great position to be successful."
QB Cody Kessler:
On having three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage in yesterday's practice:
"It is all learning. Obviously, you don't want that to happen as a quarterback, but our defensive line has been very physical. They have done a great job of creating turnovers and getting tipped passes all of OTAs and, obviously, yesterday in minicamp. It has been great. It helps you as a quarterback to find throwing lanes and find different things and have to throw around guys, as well as they can hit us or rush us or anything so they are doing a great job of sitting back and jumping. It helps because that happens in games. You get guys that get their hand on the football. As a quarterback, you go back and watch it and learn. 'OK, you have got to get around this one or maybe change my arm angle.' A guy that I have watched do that a lot is (Saints QB) Drew Brees and studying his film and the way he moves around in the pocket and finds different throwing angles. Our defense played great yesterday, created a lot of turnovers, tipped passes, interceptions and things like that. As an offense, you take that as 'OK, I have to learn from this and that and come back and improve.'"
On the Browns investing in the OL this offseason:
"It was awesome to see some of the guys we got in the offseason with (OL) JC (Tretter) and Kevin (Zeitler) and obviously Joel (Bitonio) sticking here. It has been great.
On if it is a reaction of feeling safer and that this year will be better:
"Obviously, those guys compete every day and work hard. It is exciting when you get guys that have played in the league for a while and have that veteran mentality. You have guys like that here, too – (OL John) Greco and, obviously, Joe Thomas is one of the best to ever play the position. You have guys that have been here for a while, too. We are still learning with the younger guys, too, with (Spencer) Drango and some of those guys, Shon Coleman. I think we have a really healthy mix of vet's and younger guys. It is exciting when you have guys that play at a high level and can compete and are impact players on the offensive line – like the guys we got in the offseason, as well as the guys that are already here. It is exciting, especially for a quarterback."
On the competition at QB and not allowing it to negatively impact performance and preparation:
"You know obviously that you are obviously competing for a spot, but at the same time, the only way to really do that and be successful in that is investing the hours, to make plays happen and work on plays, whether it is even checking to the right run play every time is something that is important. At the end of the day, you are focused on the offense as a whole and as a unit, whether you're in with the ones, twos or whoever the rotation gets mixed up in. When you get those opportunities and those chances in there, you want to make the most of every play, whether it is a pass, run, whatever it may be. It is exciting. You get the chance to compete and work with these other guys and learn from them, as well, and continue to come out here and try to put everything you can on tape and continue to work. Obviously, going into this offseason, learning a ton of things from OTAs and now minicamp, going into this summer, and being able to work on that and fix that so when you come back for training camp, everything is where you want it to be."
On where he is currently heading toward training camp:
"From last year, specifically, I'm way ahead mentally, as well, and physically, too, working out and training. Just having that second year, coming in here and knowing what to expect and what to work on. OTAs went great. Guys got to compete, and we improved and learned from each other. I think the coolest part, too, is how well our defense is playing, also. It really does help you out as a quarterback and as an offense. For me, mentally everything is night and day from knowing what to expect and coming in prepared. There are still a ton of things to work on this offseason, to continue to improve on and to get your best foot forward going into training camp."
QB DeShone Kizer:
On assessing his game now:
"I am pretty happy with where I am right now in the sense that this whole OTA experience and now veteran camp was just an opportunity for me to put myself in a position to potentially compete when it comes training camp time. Once again, I am not in a position to even consider myself in a competition, but now after getting this base and getting the reps I have gotten in the last couple weeks, I think that by the time training camp comes around, with a little more work over this month off, I will be ready to compete with these guys and see what I can do."
On his plans following veteran minicamp:
"I will be out in Orange County working with (QB coaches) Tom House and Adam Dedeaux and the guys over at Proactive (Sports Performance) – the same kind of regimen that (QB) Cody Kessler was on this past offseason."
On how valuable his reps with the first team have been:
"It is awesome. It is awesome. When you are out there with the guys who have done it for a while, some veterans who completely have seen everything, it not only helps me with my confidence, but it also puts me in the best position when I am wrong to get it right. The communication that you have with the center and the guys around you is everything. For me to have the opportunity to learn from those guys within these reps this early in my career, hopefully, will push me a little further ahead later down the road."
On if Head Coach Hue Jackson has shared the reasoning for the reps Kizer is receiving:
"Not really. It has been an opportunity once again just to learn as much as I can. I think we all have the same mindset in the sense of this is all a learning game for me and trying to put myself in position to compete one day. I think Coach believes that it is best for me to get out there and learn from the guys who have been doing it for a while."
On how much the game has slowed down for him from the start of OTAs to minicamp:
"Quite a bit. At the quarterback position, this game is all about confidence and being comfortable. The more you know, the more confident you are. As the time goes on, the more I can become more comfortable with the playbook, the more confident I will be and the better balls I will be able to throw. At the end of the day, it is all just about completing passes and moving the ball forward and eventually trying to put up points. Once again, the more I know, the more confident I will be."
On the most important thing he needs to improve prior to training camp:
"Just becoming consistent – consistently understanding the plays, consistently making the right checks, consistently putting the ball in the check-down the right way, and all of that comes with reps. This is going to be a big offseason for me, this next month in making sure that I can continue to have the same reps I have had this last month and a half since I have been here and make sure that that pushes into training camp the right way to get a little more consistent."
QB Brock Osweiler:
*On where the Houston Texans defense was compared to the Browns at this point in the year: *
"I'm not going to compare teams, but I will talk about our defense, though, here in Cleveland. What (defensive coordinator) Coach (Gregg) Williams and what the defense has been doing is fantastic. The one thing they bring is they bring an attitude and they bring it every single day. The whole defense flies to the ball. They are causing turnovers offensively. We need to clean that up, but what we see as an offense that our defense is doing is they are playing fast, they are physical, they are tough and they have an edge to them. It is really exciting to see."
On how the aggression and intensity from the defense helps the offense in practice:
"That makes our job very difficult, but that is the National Football League. What that is going to do is that is going to translate to games. If our defense can make our jobs very difficult in practice, then you hope the game will be a little bit easier. Like I said, what Coach Williams and the defense is doing right now is just tremendous. They are working really hard, they are flying to the ball and they are making our offensive unit better."
On his play thus far:
"I feel like I have had a good camp. Is there always room for improvement? Absolutely. No one is going to study the tape and be more critical of themselves than myself. I'm always going to study it very hard and be very realistic with myself. I'm very happy with things, but there is plenty of room to grow, and I'm striving every single day to be a better player."
On if he is paying attention to who is getting the most reps heading into training camp:
"I'm really not. Obviously, like I told you guys a couple of weeks ago, I want to be the starter of this team and I'm working every single day to put myself in a position to earn that starting job, but my focus isn't about who is getting what reps. My sole focus is 'What can I do today to be a better player, have a good practice and make my teammates better?'"
On if he has a better feeling of his overall position with the Browns:
"I really don't. I would say everything is the same. It is not like we have a meeting before practice saying, 'Hey, this guy is going to get these reps, this guy is going to get these reps.' We all go out to practice, as I'm sure you all have seen, and kind of stand behind coach. He turns around and says, 'Hey Brock, get in there,' or 'Hey (QB) DeShone (Kizer), get in there.' We are all just kind of playing on the fly right now, but like I told you a couple of weeks ago, you can only worry about what you can control. The quarterbacks on this team don't set the depth chart. Coach does. I'm not going to worry about that. I'm going to worry about playing to the best of my ability, learning this system and trying to get better every single day."
On if he became aware of the Browns' QB history after being traded to the team:
"Yes because you guys talk about it all the time (laughter). I think anytime you sign a multi-year contract with a team and you are out on the golf course in the middle of the offseason and you get traded, it is a surprise. With that, I couldn't control that. Like I told you guys before, I couldn't be more excited to be a Cleveland Brown. I love everything about this organization – the way we are coached, the ownership has been fantastic, the way we do things in the weight room, nutrition-wise – everything is first class. I'm so excited to be a Cleveland Brown and can't wait to get this season started."