Transcripts

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens talks Odell Beckham Jr., Duke Johnson and improvements after Day 1 of minicamp - Press Conference

Head Coach Freddie Kitchens:

Opening statement:

“I thought it was a good start to the week. We got a lot done today. Messed a bunch of things up, but the one thing this group will do is compete. I thought they did an excellent job of that today.”

On who is No. 13 and how WR Odell Beckham Jr. looked today:

“I do not know (laughter). Odell looked good – moved around good, in good shape, picking up the offense. [OTAs were] voluntary guys – it’s voluntary. You guys take comments that I made last week and turned it into something other than what the comment actually meant. I was looking forward to seeing Odell. I truly was. I’m not going to bull [stuff] you. I really was. He missed a lot – he understands that – but he did not miss as much as you really think because he has been studying every night just like these other guys; he just had not been here. Alright? He felt it was more compatible for his body to get in good shape and be at the best that he can be when he got here. Alright? Would I have like him here? Yes. No doubt about it. I want everybody here, but he does not have to be here. It is voluntary. Tony did not show up when they announced [the NFL Draft in Cleveland]. It was voluntary, right Tony? Was it voluntary? He did not show. I do not know what the definition of voluntary is if it is not voluntary. That answers all of your questions, right?”

On RB Duke Johnson Jr. and Johnson referencing the team looking to trade him prior to his request and Johnson viewing that as a sign of a lack of loyalty:

“I do not have any comment to that. I do not know anything about that. I would assume that the head coach would be informed of that. Like I said initially, Duke is a Cleveland Brown. He is here. It is mandatory now. He is here. Before, it was not mandatory; it was voluntary so he did not have to be here. He is here now. He is part of the team, we are going to have a plan for Duke and I expect him to have a good year.”

On clarifying if the Browns were looking to trade Johnson:

“Not to my knowledge.”

On if the Browns’ and Johnson’s relationship can be repaired:

“Duke practiced today and he practiced hard. I expect Duke to be a professional, and I think he will be. He has never been anything but a professional. Whatever his personal feelings are, those are his personal feelings. I am not going to dictate someone’s feelings. Just like I told you about other players in the past, whatever their feelings are, they are free to voice whatever they want to say. Alright? Duke is a part of the team. All of the other stuff is just hyperbole, just inventing, imagining or thinking or reacting or something like that. Just because we sign another good player does not mean that someone else has to get traded. I have said that. I love good players, and we have some good players. Now, we just have to come together as a team, and I have a good feeling that Duke will do that.”

Check out photos of the first day of Browns minicamp

On Johnson saying that he still wants to be traded:

“Well, I will flat out say it right now – he is under contract.”

On why it is productive to keep a player who expressed that he does not want to be in Cleveland:

“I think Duke demonstrated that he can do that last year, and I expect the same thing out of him this year.”

On if he and offensive coordinator Todd Monken are at a stage of building the offense where they can discuss using each piece and player, including Johnson:

“Yes, definitely. Duke has a package. (RB) Dontrell Hilliard has a package. (RB) Kareem (Hunt) has a package. (RB) Nick (Chubb) has a package. Odell has a package. Even though he has not been here, he still got a package. Everybody has a package. Hell, I even have a package.”

On the most important elements of the Browns offense:

“Here is what we are trying to get done during this camp is we are trying to get a base of our offense and where everything starts. Where it goes depends on how teams are playing us. If somebody think they can just play us the way we played last year, we are not going to be the same team we were last year. We are not going to be the same offense, we are not going to be the same defense and we are not going to be the same special teams. It is going to be all based on what we can do best, and what we can do best this year may be different than what we could do best last year. “

On where the Browns need to improve from last year:

“We need to get better in all areas. We really do. We need to get a better base of what we want to do from a protection standpoint – which we were pretty good in the second half of last year – but still there was some opportunities where we could have been better than we were. I do not know where this is going to end up. I just know that our football team is going to keep our head down and we are going to keep working to get better every day in all areas. The first thing people like to do is they like to work on the things that they are good at because they can walk off the field or they can walk out of a classroom or they can walk out of a job feeling good about themselves. Nobody wants to work on the things that they are bad at because then they expose themselves. We are into exposing ourselves out here on the practice field to get better at everything.”

On his message to Johnson prior to practice when he had his arm around him and if they discussed his comments:

“I just like giving hugs (laughter).”

On his conversation with Johnson:

“I coached Duke last year. I know Duke; Duke knows me. No, it was not about anything other than, ‘How you been?’ I have not seen him in five or six months.”

On the importance of QB Baker Mayfield rising to become a true team leader:

“I think they better take him as a leader. Baker is not the only leader we have on the team. We have other people that lead, too. If we throw the ball to Odell, he better be a leader when he is catching the ball because he is leading something when he has the ball in his hand. Nick Chubb is leading something. (G) Joel Bitonio is leading something. (C) JC Tretter is leading something. Now you want me to start… Nobody wants to talk about our defense, but do we want to talk about (DE) Myles Garrett? Want to talk about (DT) Larry Ogunjobi? Want to talk about (DT) Olivier Vernon? What about (DT) Sheldon Richardson? What about our two (linebackers) we drafted (LBs Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson). What about our two corners and our safety? Let’s talk about our defense a little bit because they are pretty damn good, too, or they are going to be.”

On CB Denzel Ward saying Mayfield is the leader:

“Everybody has to have a focal point. I think this is what you are probably trying to get at. Everybody has to have a focal point, and I think the quarterback is naturally that guy. When he can be that guy, that is advantageous to you. When he is not that guy, you are probably not a very good team. We are fortunate that Baker can lead and he is in a position to lead.”

On DT Gerald McCoy signing with the Panthers:

“I’m just going to shoot you straight. We want people that want to be here. We want people that want to be here for the right reasons. Gerald made the best decision that he felt was best for him and his family. I wish Gerald nothing but the best. If there is any reservation at all, we do not want anybody to be here. We do not want any reservation about trying to convince someone to come here. What we are about to do, it is not for everybody. What we are going to attempt to do is not for everybody. It is going to take a lot of hard work and then we will see where we are at. That is all.”

On if extra one-on-one time with Johnson is needed, given Johnson’s comments today:

“I do not think so. I put my arm around him. No, I do not think so. Duke is under contract. He is on our football team. He is a professional. He knows how to handle things. Whatever emotional side of the game it is, he knows how to check that at the door and do his job and do his job well. That is what we expect out of Duke, and that is what Duke will give us.”

On what CB Greedy Williams can learn from Ward this week:

“Just when they go in the classroom and study and just watch his technique. Out there, it is all about eyes and feet rather than hands. Just watch his foot technique. Greedy just needs to play. He just needs to continue to play against good people and just continue to get better. Greedy falls in the category with a bunch of these young guys and even our vets that we just want to get better a little bit every day, just a little in some area every day. Then at the end of training camp, we will look up and see where we are, and then after the first game we will evaluate where we are, but it never ends. It is always a constant progress of trying to get better every day. Just a little bit. I am not even talking about huge chunks, I am just talking about a little bit because we have a long time before we play, but we have a lot of work to do before we get there.”

On what goes through his mind when he sees TDs like the one from Mayfield to Beckham:

“Touchdown (laughter). Odell is here to make plays. He is capable of doing it. Baker is here to make plays. Everybody we have here is here to make plays. I expect those guys to make plays. Players make plays, and they are definitely players.”

On if there is a sense players may be concerned about their specific roles and number of touches:

“If they are not ready to do that yet, then they will be because we are going to be able to team. I think everybody to a man would say that. Listen, when you ask somebody what their goal is and they tell you what their goal is and you ask them if they are willing to pay the price to get there and they say yes, then I expect them to pay the price to get there. That is part of the price because those are their words; they are not mine. When they tell you that, I believe them until they show me differently. That is part of showing me that you are willing to pay the price. It is about winning and it is about the team. It is not about yourself. I think everybody to a man – you guys can ask them yourself – but everybody to a man would say that.”

On how much Vernon can help Garrett make more plays with even a bit more time to rush:

“I think Olivier will definitely help that from the standpoint of they are not always sliding to Myles, but the people who are going to help Myles as much as anything are those two guys inside. The front four in general, they can’t slide but to one side or the other. They can chip and things like that but we got some linebackers who can rush and we will take those chips off when we need to. Just generally speaking personally, Myles just need to keep his head down and working on his craft and get his craft better, and then the scheme will take care of everything else. As everybody knows, Myles is a tremendous talent. Now, he needs to work on and refine those techniques. Technique football is what we are teaching.”

On if Beckham was here because it was mandatory or because he was ready to be with the team:

“I will let you judge that. What do you think he looked like? Maybe you guys spend a little time of getting to know him because he is a very bright guy and he picks up things very quickly, even over the phone.”

On why T Desmond Harris did not practice today:

“Missed a flight or something. I am not sure really. I do not know. I have not got to the bottom of it yet. Missed a flight. I know he missed a flight. I do not know what time he got here so it is hard to tell how he got here.”

On if Harris was present:

“He got here a little late. Missed a flight.”

On the NFL potentially decreasing preseason games and increasing regular season games:

“I would reserve the right to think about it a little bit. I like the setup right now just because that is the only thing I have known but probably for that reason alone right now. I really like those regular season games, though, if that answers your question – and if you win them.”

On if Browns players will participate in preseason games:

“Yes, we will play our guys in the preseason. Did you watch Hard Knocks (laughter)?”

On Hilliard:

“Dontrell showed what he could do last year a little bit, but we had Duke and Duke had been doing it for a long time. Duke has been doing it for a long time and Duke still does it very well. That is the whole reason we played three running backs. We felt like we have three running backs that can play football and could make plays. Dontrell will have a role in this offense anyway you can cut it, whether it is out wide or played wide receiver. You guys were not at practice earlier last week, but he played out wide some, played some receiver and plays in the slot. Dontrell will have a role. I hope that answers your question.”

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