Browns associate head coach - offense: Pep Hamilton
On if he agrees with Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown's comment that Robert Griffin III is a long-term investment rather than a two-year commitment:
"We will find out after Sunday. I think for RG and for the rest of the guys that are going to go out and play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, we will all be focused on finding a way to win each play and win the game."
On the Eagles defensive front and how defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz might use personnel:
"You said it, this is a very good defensive front. They do a great job of just disrupting things. They do a great job of coming off the ball and getting up field and trying to penetrate your backfield. In the run game, they really try to be disruptive, take on double teams. Of course, in the passing game, they try and get after your quarterback. On the road, crowd noise, they will be fired up. We have our hands full, but our guys are up to task, up to the challenge. We will be ready to go on Sunday."
On WR Corey Coleman's physical and mental preparedness going into the season opener:
"Physically, he is in great shape. He is in a good place with regards to being able to go out and run fast and be available to make plays for us for four quarters. As far as the mental part, I know that he will be prepared. Both Corey and (senior offensive assistant) Coach (Al) Saunders, they have spent a lot of time preparing Corey for what he is about to take on. He is no different than any other rookie. It is going to be some excitement early in the game that he will have to manage. I don't want to call it emotions, but the anxiety of being in your first regular season NFL game. There will be some pressure, but pressure is a privilege. We are excited as a unit to have an opportunity to go out, compete and play together. We hope that we can score points, score a lot of points."
On challenges with a young WR corps:
"That it is something that of course you consider when you are putting your strategy together, putting your gameplan together. It is our goal as coaches to make sure that our plan is user friendly, but at the same time, it gives us a chance to go out and score points. There is an unknown associated with having so many young players, but even so, they are professionals. They are professionals for a reason. We all have a job to do and they all know what to do. We expect that they will go out and execute and do it."
On Coleman pressing during the preseason and how to help young players handle the pressure:
"I think that experience is necessary. In our paths as coaches, we have all have had some young players that have had high expectations. For me, it has been primarily quarterbacks. Their plate is full at the quarterback position. I think the fact that Corey was pressing is not all bad. At least we did not have to go out and nudge him to compete and want the football. Corey wants the ball, and we expect that Corey will go out and score the ball on Sundays. It will be exciting for all of us to see to see his explosion and see Corey go out and make plays. It is not just Corey. We have a ton of guys – (WR) Terrelle Pryor, he has played in regular season games before, but now he is a starting receiver. There will be some things that he will have to troubleshoot throughout the game, as well."
On RB Isaiah Crowell setting a goal to rush for 1,000 yards and Head Coach Hue Jackson saying that would not be enough:
"He said that would not be enough? (laughter) He is definitely prepared. For us, ideally, we want to finish a game running the football. In my past experience, when you have an opportunity to hand the ball off to a runner such as Crow early in the game, as well as late in the game like I just mentioned, you typically have a chance to run defenses down and have success running the football. Crow has not only run the ball well. He has done an outstanding job of playing without the ball in the preseason. That is just as important as being able to run the football in the National Football League. He will be ready to go."
On expectations Griffin in Sunday's game:
"We expect Robert to go out and execute our offense, make good decisions, score the ball and protect the football."
On what Griffin has worked on the most during the offseason:
"He has had to adapt to a new system, adapt to a new rhythm and timing within our passing game. The one thing that has impressed me a ton about Robert is he is a tireless worker. He is a gym rat. He is here all the time. He is working at it. He is studying film. He is actually bothering me quite a bit up in the coaches' wing of the building, which is a good thing. It's important to him."
On how Griffin has 'bothered him:'
"In a good way, just questions about the opponent, ideas about how to attack different things that he has went and studied himself on film. His demeanor, his approach to preparing himself for this season was recognized by his teammates and because of that, he was voted a team captain."
On RB Duke Johnson Jr. and his role:
"Duke is arguably one of the best third down backs in the National Football League. I can validate what I just said by the fact that he caught over 60 balls last year. He is a guy that not only is he a good third down back, but he can play on first and second down. We have two really good tailbacks, and it is our job as coaches and the guys around those guys to make sure that we give them an opportunity to do what it is that they do best and that is carry the football. Duke has shown tremendous versatility not only as a runner but as a pass receiver out of the backfield."
On OL Cam Erving and if there will be 'growing pains' during his transition to C:
"I hope not."
On Erving's play in the preseason:
"We have to just understand the importance of communication pre-snap. Just our pre-snap communication and that overall operation. It will be loud at The Linc (Lincoln Financial Field), they will be into it and the crowd noise will be intense, but we have prepared our guys to go out and deal with that. Our guys understand how important it is that we just communicate and are all on the same page before the ball is snapped. Cam has grown throughout the offseason and throughout training camp. He improved over the course of the preseason, as well. He has been bringing the O-line group together. We have developed more continuity. He is a very talented young man. I think that he will go out and he will find a way to get it done."
Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton
"This is like Rihanna. This is what you came for – NFL football at its best. I was excited last night. I hope you guys were watching the opening game last night. It was interesting watching the opening presentation with the Super Bowl trophy. That is what all 32 teams are trying to chase, and we open up our chase in Philadelphia on Sunday."
On the Browns defense and where the pieces are settling, given previous comments about it being a kaleidoscope:
"We had a lot of unanswered questions. We wanted to look and see different people in different positions and we are going to play a lot of players. We are going to be that type of defense where if you have a hat, you will play for us. We are going to roll guys through. We know we are young. We are excited about what that entails with the speed and the athleticism on the field and just the excitement of guys in their first NFL game, the locker room and going out. That is what we are going to be. We are going to be pieces of guys coming in playing one spot moving to another spot, position flexibility. It is going to be exciting to watch them grow."
On Eagles QB Carson Wentz:
"He played, he came in right before their two-minute drive against Tampa Bay and then got hurt in the third quarter so he has basically had two quarters of play. We went back and watched the Senior Bowl. We watched his college tape, and obviously, we watched the Tampa Bay game. They are running his style offense from college. I'm sure he will feel comfortable with where he is standing in the pocket and how they call the plays. I think that really helps him a lot knowing that he did this in college even though he probably missed reps throughout the preseason. I'm sure he will be excited just as we are to get out there and play a football game."
On what he sees in Wentz:
"I see a quarterback that is big, that can run. I'm going back to college obviously. He had command of their offense and multiple shifts and motion. At Philadelphia, they didn't do much with him because he got hurt. I'm sure they were going to expand the offense for him. From us, I see a capable quarterback as they all are. He was the second pick in the draft so they thought very highly of him, and it will be a good challenge for us. It always is in the NFL, whether you are a rookie or a seasoned veteran. The preseason is a little bit different obviously than the regular season, whether it is the simplification or the multifaceted things you do see in the regular season. It will be a learning experience for him as us. We are a young team, too. It will be an exciting brand of football out there, I hope."
On if he has ever coached this many first- and second-year players on defense:
"No, but it is what we wanted to do. We wanted to revamp and go and put some young players out there and we are. I'm excited for them. They are bright eyed. They have learned the system. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Part of that kaleidoscope that I was talking about is guys at different positions at different times being in. Really, it is exciting to watch them grow because the veterans, they get it. They have been there, but the young guys, we do not know what to expect from them. We know what to hope, but it is really different on Sunday of NFL football versus preseason. I have tried to prepare our guys for the hype and the emotion and the adrenaline and the hyperventilation that is going to go on. I just want to make sure they do not forget their helmets on the sideline and go play some football for us."
On if the preseason was a reality check due to defensive struggles, particularly against Tampa Bay:
"Not for me it wasn't. We wanted to get a great evaluation of our players so we did. We played every single player. Some of them are on our team. Some of them are not. I did not go in with expectations that we were going to shut every team down. I knew there were going to be and there are going to be some growing pains with different guys being in. For me, no because I just went in with eyes wide open and looking and evaluating. That is what I wanted to do was evaluate, and I think we did. We understand who we are and what we are, and we are going to change as they get better, as they get more comfortable and as I see how they react to real football versus scripted, 'You get 15 plays, you are out versus now you go full time and we will roll you guys.' I am really excited to watch our young guys play."
On strengths of LB Emmanuel Ogbah, DL Carl Nassib and LB Joe Schobert:
"Just the growth. It has been quick. We have seen these guys since May and more their personalities, watching them and watching them mature really quickly. I do not think they knew they were going to play this fast, but they are. For me, it is just trying to calm them down and maybe they don't know. Sometimes, it is good that you don't know. I have watched these guys. When you watch Emmanuel, we have moved him from different positions, which I think has really helped him. I think he gets a better understanding of football by position because he stood up, he has been on the ground, meaning hand on the ground and he has played it from outside so he's had different lenses, if you will, views, which will make him a better player, more valuable player for us because he now can play more than one position. (DB) Tracy Howard has been the same thing. Joe Schobert has been outstanding. He is really so wise beyond his years. He is so quiet but just been very effective for us. Carl, we keep saying young guys and (DB) Derrick (Kindred) is going to play for us. When I said, 'If you have a helmet, you are going to play,' they are. We are not trying to blow smoke anywhere. We are going to play our guys. We are going to roll them through and let them play football."
On DB Jamar Taylor's progression since the start of training camp:
"I am really pleased that we have him. He is a pro's pro. He is a veteran. He came in and we did not promise him anything other than an opportunity. He has quietly been very professional about his job. He is a technician. He is very smart. I think he is expanding his leadership role the more he plays. He has let his play speak for himself, which is very impressive. He is one of the veteran players that we are counting on to be a leader for our team to calm some of these young players that have not been there yet.
On DL Danny Shelton and if he is currently where he needs to be:
"I hope Danny at the end of the year is better than he is now. We have asked him to do some things, to change some things and he has. He has been outstanding that way. What I like to do, we don't have a really older guy on the line that can say, 'This is how it's done.' We are young up there, too. Most of our guys are first- or second-year guys so I have been giving him homework assignments of other players in the league to watch. I think that is critical that you watch peers in the league do things and so you can say, 'Oh, that is how it is done at a high level,' especially when we are young. Danny, he is getting ready – I don't know how many games he started last year – to play his 17th NFL game. That is a small sample of games. He is going to continue to get better. It is not, 'Well, he was a first-round pick last year so what is he?' Give him some time. It is not a new system for him because he has been playing that position forever in his career, but it is with us. It is going to be a collective effort of guys around you. It is not just one guy that is going to bring home the bacon for us. It has to be everybody."
On if Shelton was playing in the third and fourth quarters of preseason games because he was being asked to learn new things:
"That and we just want our guys to play. We knew certain guys were going to be on our team and we want them to get more snaps, guys that we were really counting on that we knew were going to be here. A lot of other guys we were evaluating who is going to be on our team. Some guys understood their role sooner, meaning (LB) Demario Davis knew he was going to be our starter for our team, and other guys we had a pretty good balancing. We were trying to play Danny more than just first and second down. A lot of those he was in on third down, and a lot depended on what the offense was putting out there on the field for us. We wanted to have an evaluation that a guy can play more roles than just one on our team, and that is some of the reason he was in was he was playing third down rush, also."
On if the Browns want Shelton's style to plug the middle or shed blockers and play between the hashes:
"That is probably based on physics, on what he is weighing, his quickness. Really, when you look at a nose guard, there are two types – there is that plugger that does not get pushed off the ball or there is the guy that can make plays from really the numbers to the numbers is probably more realistic for the nose guard. That is what I want Danny to be because he is so much quicker and he is smarter. He is going to learn to play NFL ball. I don't want to say I'm disappointed at all because I'm not because I know what his upside is and we have to get him there."
On if Shelton has done a good job keeping weight off:
"How does he look in his pants out there? How does it look? Good (laughter)? He looks good to me. He looks good to me in his pants (laughter). Danny has done an outstanding job, and I wish I could do what he did. What he did in the timeframe we gave him was extraordinary, and he has done everything we are asking. Now that he has done that off the field, now we ask him to do more on the field. He will get there because this kid has a fantastic work ethic. He is one of our young leaders on the team, and he understands the expectations that we place upon him to be one of our better players. That is probably why his name is mentioned so much because of the expectations, whether it is a draft pick or the potential, the physical potential inside of him as a player. That is just the burden that he will have to bare because he was a high pick that people expect a lot from, and I think he does, also."
On balancing showing many different defensive looks at Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz while maintaining a defensive identity:
"If you watched the game last night, (Broncos QB) Trevor (Siemian) did not have a lot of experience either and he walked away with a victory. I think one cannot just say, 'We are going to do this and it doesn't matter, no matter what.' We have to balance it with field position, down and distance, the weather conditions, his emotions, how (Eagles Head Coach) Coach (Doug) Pederson is calling the plays. Do we want to create havoc and confusion? Yes, but we also know that we have young guys, too, and the most important thing is that we play sound football and stop them from scoring. We want to come away with a victory. We don't care how we get the victory, just we want to come away with a victory. Do we understand all the side issues with their rookie quarterback, their first game, for us on the road, for him at home, the crowd, the Philadelphia crowd, which is a different crowd? Yeah, we do, and that is why it is so exciting for us because it gives us an opportunity on defense to have some success if we do our job."
On if it is unsettling that the Browns do not currently have someone on the roster with a history of getting sacks and disrupting opposing QBs:
"On paper if you look at us, we are young so we are going to find pressure and turnovers, and some of it may be a bend but don't break defense as we go along. As we evolve into our guys understanding what they do best, how they are going to attack a certain scheme or player, I have to adjust to that somewhat to see what works best for us. Is it all out zero pressure? Is it sometimes rushing three? Is it a combination? Really when I said way back when with the kaleidoscope, it is going to be that. We understand where we are at right now and what we want to be, but that doesn't mean I'm going to drive that nail that hard because we may not be that package right now. You often talk about a par 5 in two shots in golf, everybody says 'Power, power, power. Hit the par 5 in two.' I think Zach Johnson won the Masters by laying up on a par 5. Sometimes you have to be smart."
On the Browns trading DB Justin Gilbert and if Gilbert has a future in the NFL:
"Athletically, no question. He worked hard. Obviously, he got hurt in the Tampa Bay game. What we decided to do was move on to get players that were on the field that were healthy right this second to go. He worked very hard for us, for the organization. At this point, I think our organization just said, 'Let's move on and get guys in the room, on the field that are ready to go this direction.' Not that he wasn't. He was trying very hard to do what we asked him to do."
Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor
"Philadelphia, Game 1, really excellent special teams unit led by a lot of guys. First and foremost, (Eagles RB) Darren Sproles, he is a dynamic player. I think he finished third in the league last year in punt returns. He had a couple touchdowns. When he gets the ball, he is kind of a human joystick. He makes people miss out in open space, still has the speed and breaks tackles so we have our work cut out for us right there. They have some great cover players in (Eagles S Chris) Maragos and (Eagles DE Bryan) Braman. A lot of their core players have been together there for about three years so they play real well. That will be a challenge to our guys. We are keeping the focus on our players. We are trying to get them better and prepare them for this first game so we can go out there and play well."
On who will be the Browns KR and PR:
"The new guy, (RB George) Atkinson (III) and (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.) will be back there as our kick returners. The punt returners, (DB) Tramon (Williams) and (WR) Corey Coleman, those guys will be back there so we will be locked and loaded."
On all four of those players will return kicks on Sunday:
"We will see how it goes."
On the Browns trading P Andy Lee to the Panthers and picking up P Britton Colquitt:
"I'm really excited to have Britton here. Obviously, he is an established, proven player in this league. To have a guy with his skillset punting for us, that is definitely going to help us. We are looking forward and are glad he is on our team."
On if it was a relief to acquire Colquitt after losing a Pro Bowl P in Lee:
"I think we are fortunate to be able to get him. Obviously, Andy Lee, a good punter and wish him all the best. We want Britton and plan on Britton to have a great career here with the Browns and have a great season with us. To have an established guy like that, sure, it does relieve you a little bit, but at the same time, we have to do a good job with our cover units because when you are facing a guy like Sproles, you have your work cut out for you."
On K Patrick Murray's strengths:
"He attacks things. He's been very accurate in practice and in games. He plays with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, and I mean that in a good way. I'm excited to watch him play in this first game here."
On if he has coached many Ks with a chip on their shoulder:
"Probably not. He coming back from a knee injury. He has worked his way back. He has earned this opportunity. He understands that nothing is given and everything is earned. I have a lot of respect for people that do that so I'm looking forward to watching him play."
On if it is tough to get a new player like Atkinson up to speed so quickly:
"No, he is a guy, I remember writing him up coming out of Notre Dame as a returner and then obviously, kind of following him. He had a nice long touchdown run there against Seattle in the last preseason game (with Oakland). He is a guy that has a lot of the traits that we are looking for. We are still kind of getting to know each other a little bit, but he has been excellent, everything as advertised. We are going through the process, and I expect him to play well."
On who will fill the void for core special teams players who are no longer with the Browns:
"I think (LB) Tank Carder, he is a captain for us and he has done a nice job. He has always been a steady hand for us. (DB) Don Jones, he has been playing at a high level with regards to getting down there and being disruptive, and we need him to continue to do those things. Then you are going to start getting into some guys that are a little bit untested, but yet I'm excited about watching them go. We have had them for a long time through OTAs and training camp and those type things. Now, it is time to put the work to the test – the (DB Derrick) Kindreds of the world, the (LB Joe) Schoberts, the (LB Dominique) Alexanders, those younger players – but I think that they are good football players so we'll be ready to roll."
On if the NFL's new touchback rule has changed the manner in which he's instructed his returners to approach kick returning:
"I think it does. I think just from the standpoint of because there are a lot of other factors with regards to when you want to take opportunities to bring the ball out and when you want to keep it in. Sometimes the kick return phase is going to affect other phases in the game, whether it be punt, punt return and those type things. I think that all goes into it. You didn't used to have those debates. You just used to say, 'Hey let's bring this thing out and go.' Now, you have more parameters, and I think that changes on a weekly basis of whether you are going to keep it in, whether you are going to bring it out, what your matchups are, what you are thinking of all those things. It has changed things, and I think it has made it more fun."
On if he believes the new touchback rules may actually encourage more kickoff returns, rather than decrease the number:
"I think it will. I think that all special teams coordinators are anticipating shorter, higher kicks to where you put that returner in a tough bind. If it is too deep, you always would bring that thing out, but now, if it is over a four-second hang and it is really up there, you're going, 'Oh boy, Do I even attempt to bring this one out?' It is just a risk reward type thing. Studies show that actually you have a higher percentage of scoring a touchdown from the 22-yard line if you start your drive at the 22 as opposed to the 25. Everyone automatically says, 'Well, the 25-yard line, you should automatically take it there because you have a better chance of scoring.' Actually, you really do not statistically, and that is neither here nor there. I just think that is what everyone thinks. 'Well, the ball is farther. You are probably going to score.' That is really not the truth."
On what makes Sproles a special returner, particularly at his age:
"He is built very compactly so he is able to break tackles. He is a risk taker. You will see him, he will field the ball inside the 10-yard line there so you are always having to go down and cover. He is a smart returner, just doesn't fair catch automatically if you are in the pooch area. Like I said, he is not going to wave fair catch and now your gunners have to be aware that now he can possibly block you to keep you away from downing the ball on the 2-yard line. All those little things that he has done through his whole career has us on high alert. There is no question about him. I have a lot of respect for him. Good football player."