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Training Camp

Browns DC Jim O'Neil Press Conference - August 24

Opening Statement:

"I think it's been a great camp. I think our players have done a really nice job laying the foundation mentally and physically for the regular season. I like where we're at as a group. I can really see those guys starting to take ownership of the defense and it's not just the coaches coaching and holding the players accountable. They're doing a good job in meetings, out on the practice field. If guys mess up or guys aren't hustling the ball like we talk about, it's great when it comes from them instead of the coaches. I'm happy where we're at with the players, I'm excited about the game this Saturday just to see where we're at as a defense. We're starting to get some guys back to be healthy which is a plus. I think the coaching staff has done an unbelievable job throughout training camp. The meetings have been great, they've done a great job coaching the details of all the players' assignments. They kept the guys motivated, kept it fun for the players. I think the coach's wives have done a great job too (laughter) they have. It's a hectic schedule, they've been flexible with us. Bringing the kids up, making sure that they can see us when we're available. It's been great. When they do that it makes our jobs a lot easier because we can really just focus on football and they've allowed that to happen the past four weeks.

On how much better the defensive line will be during the season:

"It's obviously, it's a deep group. I think the competition has definitely elevated the play of the position group. I think we'll be better upfront. There's going to be some tough decisions to be made on who makes the 53 (man roster) and then whose up on game day. It might be a situation where we might have to cut a guy or two that can play in this league. There might be a situation where we have a damn good player standing on the sideline on game day but Coach Weaver (defensive line coach Anthony Weaver) and Coach Tuioti (defensive quality control coach Tony Tuioti) have done an unbelievable job developing that group and I like where we're at."

On LB Paul Kruger:

"I think that the one thing Kruge's done a really nice job- we're playing him more SAM linebacker than rush linebacker than we did a year ago. It's going to make it hard on teams to double team him because he's going to probably do some dropping the coverage stuff for us on earlier downs. When you're a 50-50 guy on early downs, Paul's going to get some favorable matchups against tight ends and running backs. Whereas last year you're playing a lot more rush linebacker where you're going against an offensive tackle a lot. I do think teams are going to have to plan for him in obvious passing situations, when he's aligned at defensive end rushing the quarterback. Paul's a guy that has done a really good job for us, learning both positions as far as the outside linebacker rooms concerned and he's done a really nice job improving in his run technique and I think that's going to help us this year."

On what he has seen from DL Danny Shelton and what he needs to improve on:

"You didn't see my lava lava? (laughter). He's done a great job. He brings a ton of energy. I think he proven throughout the first couple preseason games and the two days we spent out in Buffalo, he's going to command a double team in the run game. I think he's going to very hard for guys to single block. I love the energy he brings. He's going to push the pocket and the pass game so he's going to help us. Thumbs up on Danny Shelton, I'm excited about him."

On doubts about Shelton being more than a two-down player:

"No, and I know there was a lot of talk about that. He's only a first down player, stuff the run and get off the field. We never felt that way about him. I know there's a lot of stuff out there about the 40 yard dash, to me if you just turn on the tape, you saw what you had in the player. Me, Coach Weaver, we went out we spent a whole day with him, we took him out to dinner. We love the person, we love the player, we loved everything he represented. We always saw him going into the draft process as a guy that could be dominant on early downs and a guy that could help us in passing situations by pushing the pocket. He may not have a ton of sack production but he's going to cause a lot of production for the other guys out there."

On if there will be a pitch count for Shelton in regular season:

We're going to roll guys up front just because the fresher those guys can be the better they'll be. But we haven't gotten into that much detail. Sometimes it's how the game goes. How much, two tight ends two backs are they in or one tight end two backs versus three wide receivers, one back. Our defensive personnel groups are a little bit dictated by what the offense is in so some of that can control but he's going to be out there, he's going to be out there a good amount. I hope it's not 70 plays, I'd like to take only 55 to 60 plays on defense. Usually when you get up into that 70 to 80 play mark you're higher risk or injury, you're not getting off the field."

On what he ate at dinner with the coaches:

"Danny? We went to- it was great- we went out there we worked out (Carolina Panthers DL) Shaq Thompson. We worked out Danny and then we worked out another defensive end and the SAM linebacker out there, the guy that went to New Orleans. We went to just some sub shop, some ma and pa's sub shop, he got one of those sandwiches that were about that big and that thick. (defensive line) Coach Weaver's like 'we're going to have to talk to him about how much he eats' (laughter) it was great. We could have went to a steakhouse or a nice restaurant, that's where they wanted to go. Just says a lot about who he is as a person.

On players that have surprised him during training camp:

"I'd like to go by each level of the defense. If I start it up front, the draft picks are the draft picks I've been very impressed with those guys. Dylan Wynn's gotten some attention; I just love how he plays the game, what he represents as a person. He's going to give you everything he has. He's had to play out of position some for us, just because of injury but he's a guy I've really been impressed with.

I think the injuries in the backend have really allowed some DB's to back up. I think IC (DB Ibraheim Campbell) has done a great job at safety, he has played almost the entire two preseason games and I think you've been able to see how physical he's going to be in the run game. He's where he's supposed to be in the pass game and I think he's only going to get better as he spends time in the system. (DB Landon) Feichter who we call Flex has been another guy that's gotten a million reps and he's done a great job. He just been a smart, tough guy out there for us who puts himself in position and makes the plays he's supposed to make. Then the two corners who have really come in the past week have been (DB) Kendall James and Charles Gaines. Those were two guys, and I told them maybe two weeks ago they weren't in the conversation to make the 53 and the way they've performed in the past week they've both put themselves very much in the conversation to make the 53. They both went up to Buffalo like they were on a mission and they've consistently made play after play after play so I've been very happy with those two guys."

On DB Justin Gilbert's next step to being a productive player:

"I think it's just consistency. He's had some really good moments he's had some bad moments obviously, he's just got to be more consistent. To me, that's that position. I think learning how to play consistent and trusting your technique every single play and having that mentality 'the balls coming at me' every single play and not relaxing is something that you learn in this league. It takes some guys longer than it takes other guys. I think that that's the one thing, if you had to put your finger on it, he's just got to be more consistent every single play from practice to practice from game- to game, if you're going to be out there full time."

On if Gilbert is starting to understand what it takes to be a professional:

"He's further along than where he was last year. I still think he has some ground to make up."

On if cornerbacks can succeed in the league without confidence:

"No. you have to have confidence to play out there, especially in our scheme."

On if Gilbert suffers from lack of confidence:

"You have to have a short term memory if you play corner. Everybody's going to get beat. The best- (DB) Joe Haden's been beat, (Seattle Seahawks CB) Richard Sherman gets beat, (New York Jets CB) Darrelle Revis gets beat, Deion Sanders got beat,. You have to have short term memory and let's go, that's got to be within, you have to be able to push through some stuff. At the end of the day you have to be able to fall back on your technique and your teaching. To me that's what gives you confidence out there. You can just go out there and play and– I'm not saying he's doing that but to me if you have a good foundation, if you're having a bad day you can always fall back on that."

On Gilbert's comments that he did not play with technique in college:

"No, he didn't."

On if that is the problem now:

"There's a lot of guys in college that are unbelievable athletes who are so gifted, they can just go out there and dominate. There are a lot of guys like that. You're not going to get away with that at this level, everybody's gifted. So, you better have technique at this level if you're going to be successful."

On if you have to make big projections for guys who do not use technique in college:

"No because I think the athletic skill sets is there, the size is there, the lengths there. Everything you look for is there. We have three great coaches back there in (Secondary coach) Jeff Hafley, (Assistant secondary coach-safeties) Bobby Babich and (Assistant secondary coach-corners) Aaron Glenn, it's just a process guys, it just takes some time. Some guys it might happen a little quicker, some guys it just might take a couple years. I wish I had the answer, I don't. He's had some great moments, he's had some not so great moments. You just have to continue to fight and push through."

On if he is frustrated with Gilbert not being on the field:


On if there were any signs there may be a problem with Gilbert during the interview phase:

"Not any more than what would come up with other players. So, no."

On if he has hope that Gilbert can live up to his draft pick:

"Yes. Yes."

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