Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor
"Pittsburgh Steeler week, typical Pittsburgh Steelers special teams unit. I mean that from this standpoint: they are big, they are fast, they are physical and they are extremely well coached. Obviously, they probably have one of the most dynamic players in the game, (Steelers WR) Antonio Brown, as the returner. He has led to some sleepless nights for us. We are looking forward to the challenge and worrying about the Cleveland Browns and getting better. This will be another big test for us."
On what makes Steelers WR Antonio Brown a talented returner:
"He has some risk taker to him, which is a good quality in a punt returner because he will put pressure on your coverage units. He catches the ball extremely well. He obviously has great vision, toughness, first-step quickness and then long speed. If you were buying a car and you went into the dealership and said, 'I want the total package,' they would roll out the Antonio Brown car. He is a good player."
On Brown's 'bizarre' return against the Browns when he attempted to leap former P Spencer Lanning and if he shows that play to the team:
"You probably say it is 'bizarre' from the standpoint that he tried to jump over and kicks him in the face. We actually watch the play just with regards to the coverage and how to give yourself an opportunity to tackle Antonio Brown. When you turn on his career catches and his returns and you watch other people try to get down and cover the guy, there are common problems that do come up and it is based off of his skillset. When he tried to go over Spencer there, he was obviously trying to make a play. I have seen (Ravens WR) Devin Hester do it running down the sideline and a guy went low. He probably thought that he was going to go low on him and he was going to hurdle him. It was obviously a tough play for us, but we learn from it in all aspects, not just him hurdling us."
On LB Jamie Collins Sr. previously blocking a kick by jumping over the LS, it occurring in last week's Broncos-Saints game, the rules and if that is something the team coaches:
"Yeah, if you have a guy that is in your back pocket. The rules states this: the guy that is hurdling the player, he can't be at the heels of the down linemen as he takes off before the ball is snapped because if he is at the heels and the ball hasn't been snapped, he is considered covering up the long snapper, which is illegal. The next thing is when he goes over, obviously, he can't put his hands down to propel himself up or over so he has to be clean, kind of like what the Denver guy did the other night. Those are kind of the things. If you don't get it, that is a big penalty on you. The other thing with guys going, guys in the front used to go down so the offensive linemen would drop down so it would make it easier for the guy to hurdle. Now, you can't do that. The upfront guys, they can only – like the Denver game the other day – with open hands put their hands on the offensive linemen and kind of push them down. You can do that. You are taking a chance that somebody is popping up and then you have a blown knee and you lose your player right there. Guys that can do that, there is a lot of timing that goes into it – do you have snap key off of the holder? The timing has to be just right so you try to figure those things out as you are studying the field goal team."
On if the NFL prioritizing safety 'has gone overboard,' specific to rules like not being able to put too many players on one side of a kickoff or onside kick:
"Safety obviously is important, and it should be important. There is such a talk about it because players are bigger, stronger and faster now, and it is a different game than what it was 10 years ago and obviously 20 years ago. I am always for player safety because the collisions, sometimes, television doesn't always do it justice. When you are down on the field right next to it, those are car wrecks that are sometimes taking place. Player safety in my opinion should always be first and foremost."
On the safety changes have 'gone overboard' as it relates to special teams:
"No, I don't. I love the game of football. I don't want the rules… For example, in my area, I don't ever want the kickoff not to exist because of player safety, but I am all for adjusting the rules to making the game still competitive and safe. I just think as things go on, people and rules are always going to evolve. I don't think the league has gone too far. I really don't. The rules are the rules. You play within the rules, and if you can find a way to bend them, then you take advantage of it."
On teaching players to block kicks without running into the kicker or punter:
"It is kind of the age old question and people say, 'Why? You just got a personal foul and you ran into the kicker.' If you are going to call a block – this is what we say – if we are going for it, we are going for it. Sometimes, there come consequences with that. In order to stay out of that, if you are coming around on field goal block, we are going to launch ourselves a couple of yards in front of the hold to give us some room. There are other factors of the wind, where the kicker is starting the ball and where you want to bring your block from and those type of things. Obviously, as you are going for it, if we are going for a punt, we need to know where the launch point is. We are not going to the punter; we are going to the block spot. We have certain rules if we are coming from the outside or the inside so it can help take away the roughing or running into the kicker."
On being interested to see how K Cody Parkey does in his first weather inclement game in Cleveland:
"No question, yeah. They are calling for some weather. If you are worried about your hair, you probably don't want to go to this game (laughter). They are talking about maybe gusts of up to 50 (miles per hour) I just saw this morning. He was cold-weather kicker in Philadelphia. With any player, you are always interested to see how they handle the elements. He has to hit his ball and strike it well, which I think he will. You have to play Mother Nature, and you hope that you are kind to her and she helps you out."
On NFL punt returners fielding more punts inside the 10-yard line and 5-yard line:
"A lot of people, the golden rule is the 10, some people will say it is the 8 [-yard line]. If they are punting from the 50 and it is a true pooch, those are a little bit of the easier ones that you are probably going to let [go] and I don't worry about those. It is the one where maybe they are at the -42 and maybe you are hanging out on the 15-yard line, and now, the ball goes over your head and you are saying, 'How many steps did I just go back?' Some guys do lose track. The other thing is that as you get an experienced returner, sometimes you are able to peek and check. 'Here comes the ball, the height of the ball, and now, I can check the coverage and where they are at. I do have some time and I am going to go ahead – Antonio Brown – I am going to go ahead and be a little bit of a risk taker and take a chance right here' because you will find coverage teams we you are in the pooch area, you protect and obviously that is a rush area, you protect and you get out and most likely it is going to be a fair catch because you expect your punter to hang it up in there, and then that returner takes a chance and steals one from you. I do think there is something to be said about the coverage didn't get down very far and I have an opportunity to bring it back out. I am OK with that. We are going to push. You have to be smart when you want to push the envelope, and that is probably what you are seeing. For example, the kid from Kansas City that I watch a lot, (Chiefs WR) Tyreek Hill. This guy is fast, super fast. He is a guy that I would say is a risk taker but risk-reward. He can go. It is just how you look at it."
*On WR Corey Coleman fielding punts and if he may return some this week: * "You could see him. I think you could see a host of guys. We will see how it goes. I am really interested to be quite honest with you and I am not dodging the question, but the wind and those type of things and how things will play out on Sunday, we are definitely prepared for how it goes. We will see."
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton
On trying to defend the Steelers offense, given the success of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown:
"Most teams try to be built this way. They try to have obviously a triangle attack, whether it is the running back, tight end and wide receiver. Obviously, you have to have a quarterback. They have been doing it for quite a while over there with Ben behind the center and Antonio and now Le'Veon. In the past, it has been different people, but every week they have somebody that you have to take away. This week, it happens to be – I guess they have been calling themselves the 'Killer Bees' or something over there – Ben, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. There is always a challenge, and this week I think it is just Ben has a reputation of keeping plays alive, and obviously, Antonio is a dynamic player on the outside. Everybody talks about whether he is the best receiver in the NFL. I don't know if he is, but I know he is very competitive."
On if there are other QBs in the league who have Roethlisberger's ability to extend plays and his size:
"Probably not for his size. You go back and you look at his history of what he has been athletically and being, I believe, a shortstop in baseball, a point guard in basketball and obviously a quarterback. I think people were shocked by his athleticism. Probably for his size, no, I don't think there has been a guy [like him]. You can go back to (former NFL QB) Michael Vick that ran around but he was a smaller guy, and usually, the bigger quarterbacks just sit in the pocket and throw the ball a la (Ravens QB) Joe Flacco or somebody like that. Rare combination of athleticism and size and ability to keep the play going and over the years, having defensive linemen being shook off of him, it is a rare combination."
On if he was encouraged by the Browns run defense last week against the Ravens:
"We are trying to make strides everywhere across the board. Part of that is some of the guys that it is hidden, [like] (DL) Danny Shelton, meaning hidden it is hard to see the guys in there. Danny is having an outstanding year. I know sometimes we get questions about Danny and it is hard to see him all the time, but if you look at the battle within the battle, he is really having a dominant year this year. He is playing at a high level. That is part of the reason you have ability to control the run is those guys up front. It is progress, and we will see if we can continue to progress."
On where Shelton improved most since last year:
"A lot of things. As you said, off the field and on the field. I didn't know Danny – I had met Danny before in his college years – I didn't know how smart he was. I have made the comment, he may be the smartest defensive linemen – for sure nose tackle – I think I have ever been around and ever heard of as far as understanding offensive sets and formations and having the ability to see what is around him rather than just the guard and center combination. Extremely brilliant as far as football is concerned. Just the passion that he has inside, I don't think those are things that you can measure. He has a tremendous will to be good, and he has taken steps that way. The challenge for him is to keep doing it. I think the league has noticed, and I just hope he gets the recognition that he deserves and continues to play the way he is playing."
On the Browns' defensive struggles in the second half of games, given the young roster:
"It is really, obviously, we know the elephant in the room – What is going on in the second half? I don't know. I know coming out of the locker room at halftime, I know they are ready. I really do. We have studied obviously all of our games. I think the comment was made that somebody – the other team obviously – is doing something different. I don't see it. Obviously, you can see a different play here or there, but very seldom do you go, 'Wow, they are really changing what they did to adjust.' What is it? I wish I… It is one of those things we have studied, we have looked at it. You can say on this play it is this, on that play it is that. You look at your calls, are you calling more of something, less of something, something different. I wish I could say it is X or it is Y, but right now, it is not something you can put your finger on and say it is definitely that or them or me or us or something. It is just a combination of probably not making enough plays in the second half to turn the tide somewhere."
On if he agrees with Head Coach Hue Jackson's statement that it is tough to ask rookies and younger players to play great football for a large number of snaps:
"I am looking at everything. Is that a plausible reason? Well, sure it is. There has to be a reason somewhere and just we have not been able to… I put it back off of study of making enough plays because somebody is on too much, not enough or the call. There is no one answer because we would obviously change or do something different. I know emotionally we are ready to go in the second half. It is just one of those things that has not come to fruition."
On LB Christian Kirksey and what he has done well this year:
"We saw him as a very athletic player coming into the season, and I think he is taking that jump with Danny. It happens to young players. They probably know athletically they can play, but they don't know if they can physically and down in be that person in the NFL. Until you have success, you don't know, and I think he is starting to have success. It is the chicken or the egg. It is a confidence thing of him going out and playing, playing against very good competition and knowing now "I can play in this league. I belong in this league.' That is the biggest thing is to have rewards as you play, meaning positive feedback from your play."
On DB Joe Haden and if he expects that he will be able to play against the Steelers:
"As far as I know. We just go out and practice and we roll guys through. Joe is competing the best he can every play and really every game. Joe is an important part of our defense and we always want Joe out there. Obviously, on the medical thing, I don't speak on medical questions."
On the Browns-Steelers rivalry and if it has lost any luster, given the recent results:
"No, not for me. Here is what really we try to tell our players about the AFC North: If you can compete and win here, you can win on the biggest stage because people in this division have won Super Bowls. You play them twice a year. You know what the competition is like home and away. I don't think our guys are in awe or afraid. We want to get where they are at so the competition is great for us. I love being in this division because really it is year in and year out probably one of the better divisions in the league as you go through and watch the teams play. It gives us a standard to kind of measure ourselves to where we want to be."
On LB Jamie Collins Sr., his impact on the Browns defense and if he can get even better as he becomes more comfortable with the Browns defensive schemes:
"Yeah I hope so. I think I said last week, you don't know a player until you get them in the room how intelligent they are. Physically, you can see what he is on film, but he has really integrated himself with the team and with us. He is a nice tool to have. He has played all over the place for us. He has played outside, inside, and we will continue to exploit, if you will, his tools and his athleticism. As you look around the league, it is really nice to see a gifted athlete that is smart and wants to win and has embraced being here. It is really, really refreshing to have him in the locker room, in the classroom and just guys know who he is, and when you get players with Super Bowl rings, it carries a lot of weight."
On DL Emmanuel Ogbah and if he is now in the right spot playing DE:
"I think he is very happy. It gives him a chance to grow and understand NFL football. We always talk about the young guys, and Chris (Kirksey) and Danny and finding, 'Oh I can play in this league.' Obviously, where he is playing at now there is a ton of double teams. It is a big man, it is a strength game, it is a power game and you have to learn how to play that in the NFL. He is becoming more comfortable in every – not every day, but every week I challenge him to play faster and faster. He is starting to understand the speed of the NFL game and getting more comfortable. Obviously, we think he has a really bright future, and as Jamie, we will move him around because now he is athletic enough and he is smart enough and he has been in the system where moving him to a different position, meaning schematically, won't bother him."
On Steelers WR Antonio Brown and how he is so successful, given his non-prototypical size:
"I think if you were going to compare him and maybe go, 'Oh I understand what you mean.' I don't think (Saints QB) Drew Brees of New Orleans would be a prototypical quarterback yet he was a league MVP, he has set numerous records and he has been to the Super Bowl. There is always somebody that does not quite fit that mold of height, weight and speed. I was there his rookie year when he came in and he had a fantastic transformation from a young rookie that knew nothing about NFL football to I think from listening to him an appreciation for what the game is and what the NFL is and respect of the game. It was probably for him a maturing process and probably a lot of it was his background and always being smaller and people saying 'You can't do something.' For him, it is a joy to watch a kid mature to become a good not only football player but really a good man."
Running game coordinator/running backs coach Kirby Wilson
On RB Isaiah Crowell and how the Browns can get the rushing attack's early success back:
"It is about opportunities. To have that kind of success that you want and the efficiency that you want, you have to have opportunities. What that is saying is that you have to convert third downs to get more opportunities to do what you want, which is control the line of scrimmage and run the football more and efficiently. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened for us lately. We are all not happy about it, and Crow deserves to be frustrated. We are all working hard to fix it. Hopefully, those results will start showing on Sunday."
On Crowell's attitude on a daily basis in meetings and at practice:
"He has been great. He understands the big picture and that we are trying to build something special here and that it takes time when you are building something. Our goal, which it has been from Day 1 and it will not change is to become a complete running back in all areas. That is something that he has really taken a hold to and he has worked extremely hard from the offseason, OTAs, minicamp, training camp, and each day at practice to become a complete running back and someone that you can depend on and count on each and every Sunday at one o'clock that he is going to go out and give you a real good showing."
On the Steelers run defense and if it may be worse than Steelers defenses of years past:
"No, quite frankly. They look like the same old Steelers to me. They are pretty salty up front. They have big people. They have some really good size in their interior defensive line. That front seven is the strength of their defense. They have had some long runs on them recently and other teams have had success, but we think that is not their character. Their character is they control the line of scrimmage, they close every gap and they make it extremely difficult for you to run the football."
On the forecast for inclement weather and if the run game looks forward to those conditions as it may increase opportunities:
"We like to think in our room there are no bad runs ever, whether it be in the first quarter or the fourth quarter, because halfbacks, all they ever think about is their last run and their next run. We are really just excited to try to get the run game back on track and see what results we get from this, but the guys are not happy. They are working really, really hard. They think that this game presents a challenge just because it is not only a division game, but it is an opportunity at home to show your fans that you are capable of playing at a high level and getting back to where you were early in the season. The guys feel very confident about that rolling into this game."
On what is impressive about Steelers LB Ryan Shazier:
"Speed, and he has no regard for his body. He is reckless. He is just a human wrecking machine. This guy just destroys your blocking schemes singlehandedly. He will break down a run. The guy is phenomenal. He is a phenomenal athlete. He is tough. He is physical. He is one of those rare linebackers that he doesn't respond; he initiates. He plays as the aggressor. He doesn't wait on you to strike him first. When you watch him, you have a lot of respect for his play as a player, and the guy really gives it up for that football club."
On how big of a loss Steelers DL Cameron Heyward to injury is to Pittsburgh:
"That has to hurt them because anytime you lose a starter of his quality and his ability, the backup is going to be good but he is not going to be as good or he would be a starter. It is unfortunate for him personally and professionally, but from our point of view, we are excited about going against his backup."
On how the Browns' changes to the OL have impacted the running game:
"All those things factor into the success or lack of success. When you have change up front, you don't have the same two guys stepping the same way, even though they have been taught the same scheme. It is just different. It is another player. It is another language, another way to communicate. Some guy might step with his left foot, some guy might step flat with the left foot, some guy might use a right so it is all a little different. I think that really is a factor in it, but you can't use it as an excuse because everybody is being coached the same and we are still running the same run plays. We have to execute at a higher level and we have to be more demanding and more physical up front."