Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams:
On the Browns defense's performance through three preseason games:
"Guys are playing pretty well right now. There is an awareness of scheme understanding. More importantly, there is an awareness of playing off of each other. The communication is really good when they are surrounding the formation. They are surrounding the football. It is not just starting from ground zero the way it was when we first came in here last year. To be quite truthful, until you get into live reps – you can practice all you want – until you get into live game reps, as a coach you really do not know a whole lot about a guy about how to best use a guy. It took a while last year. I think about that a lot with (offensive coordinator) Todd (Haley) right now. When Todd comes in here and learning that same type of feel for a guy in an actual game rep, I do not have to worry about that right now. I have been through enough with these guys to know it. As soon as the rookies came in, it is going to be that same way all year for a rookie just getting used to playing in the game. Have a good feel for our guys, why we play a certain way, why they play in a certain spot and then let them cut loose. They are doing a good job."
On creating takeaways:
"The two things that I said earlier that we needed drastic improvement on is taking the ball away and then points allowed. Then, being able to cover and doing a better job down in the red zone area. They are right now. Taking the ball away, in the opening game – the Giants preseason game – we had our hands on five footballs that bounced the other way or we did not get some of the deflections. In the second game, two times we had our hands on the ball and should have come up with it. Last week, it was very good from a confidence standpoint for their part of they are still going for the ball but they got the ball. That is important. For us to improve as a team, they have to play off of each other, stop them from the scoring opportunities and provide some short field for our offense. That was done last week, which was good to see."
On DL Myles Garrett impacting the game and the team's defensive scheme:
"Myles Garrett is a very good football player. What people don't realize is even when he got a chance to play in games last year how he was still playing through being hurt. That injury that he had, not very many people would have been able to play a snap the rest of the year on how ugly that thing was when he got his leg hurt. The No. 1 goal for Myles was – as soon as I told him when we met this summer was – make sure that you get to Pittsburgh and how you train. He has done a great job of training in practice. He has done a great job of repping in practice in the right ways of the pass rushes. He has a very good feel for pass rush. In coverage, we are doing a better job in coverage, allowing him to rush. The guys on the back end are covering a little bit longer. The quarterback's snap to release is not as fast as it was last year in respect to that of an open receiver, and we have not been doing a whole lot of pressuring on defense. We have been playing a lot of rush and coverage. It was nice to see that dominance up front of those four guys that were in there each time, even when we rotated some of the other guys in there. That is very positive to see right now. We have to continue to grow from that."
On the improvement of the Browns secondary:
"They are good. Better in that respect on the ability right now to play a little bit more man to man. They have to stay healthy. A few of those guys had to get some understanding of how we do things differently than other teams. It is not always the same as when they go from another pro team to this pro team, but they fill in very well. It has been a very positive experience for everybody back there."
On DB Terrance Mitchell earning a starting CB position through positive play in training camp:
"He has done very well. Not only him, there have been several of them. He has been taking a lot of shots in that area so has (DB T.J.) Carrie. (DB) Denzel (Ward) has done a very good job there. I think that (DB) Mike Jordan has improved. The (DB Jeremiah) McKinnon kid has come in and done a very good job. There have been a lot of very good guys back there that (defensive backs coach) DeWayne Walker and that whole group of secondary coaches have done a good job with, given the reps. I probably have overly called a ton of man to man in the practices because we want to get better at that. When you see it in the practices, I purposefully do it that way. We will decide how much that we do in a regular game by what the opponent is like, what the matchup is like and what the situation is like. The reps that we have gotten in practice, those guys have come a long way. It has helped us a lot."
On the difficulty making final roster decisions:
"Those are always difficult. I have a relationship with each and every guy that I get a chance to coach. Somebody did a study now in the offseason, after 30 training camps, up around 2,000 men that I have had the chance to coach at this level. It is always tough as long as they are fighting and doing the right things. They are also interviewing for other teams, too. I think that (General Manager) John Dorsey and those guys have done a good job on this will be a time this year that maybe a few guys that do not make our team make other teams. That is what you want to happen. Let the competition come out and the best guys win."
On depth of the Browns LBs:
"We are as deep as any that I have had in probably the last decade. When I say that the depth there allows you to play multiple packages and it allows you to play through injury because that is a violent position. Some of those guys are going to have injury bugs throughout the course of the year. We feel like the next man up is going to be good. It also allows us to package a few more things to where we can pose maybe a little bit more threats and problems to the offense. I think that you guys maybe saw that I have a huge respect for (Rams defensive coordinator) Wade Philips and what he has done as a defensive coordinator in this league. You have probably seen some of the things that we do there that are complementary of how he will play an outside linebacker at a defensive end position. We have a few of those guys that can do that."
On relief learning that Ward's back injury was not serious:
"It is good. I do not worry about those things, but I was glad to hear that. Maybe he will finally listen to me and stop doing those stupid things the ways he is trying to tackle and maybe tackle the way I tell him to tackle and he will not get hurt."
On specifics of how he is telling Ward how to tackle:
"You are going to have to ask Denzel."
On Ward's injury progress:
"That comes from the head coach (Hue Jackson). I don't deal with injuries."
On Ward's development this year:
"He has come a long way. He has done a very good job with what we have asked him to do. It has been a big learning curve for him on understanding some of the zone awareness type things that he has to have because he has not had to opportunity to do very many things like that. Walking down and playing man to man, that is why he is here. He can do those things. He just needs to stay healthy. He needs to tackle the way that I tell him to tackle."
On if game film of other teams has audio:
"It depends. We have all types of film. The film that is exchanged from team to team does not have any of that on there. If it is on TV, sometimes you can hear it; sometimes you can't."
On if Haley coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers helps with game preparations in regards to audio and snap counts:
"I would have no idea right now."
On if other 'nagging injuries' Ward has experienced during training camp are related to tackling:
"He is fighting through it. It is the next step, too. At this level, you have to stay healthy every day. As a pro, you have to understand that there are so many things that you have to do in a 24-hour day, and that it is you have to stay healthy. I tell him all of the time, there are two words that being with the letter 'A' that you have to own to be a professional football player – one is accountable, and the next one is available. When you are not available, you are working on your training room internships."
On Ward's specific injuries:
"I am telling you the same thing, I am not a doctor. I am not a trainer. He needs to make sure he is doing all the things he needs to do to stay on the field. Otherwise, he is not a football player.
On LB Genard Avery making an impact:
"One of the things that has been very good about that, I think (General Manager) John Dorsey and his crew are really good about spotting him out. His position coach has been here the last two springs and is very close to a couple of guys on our staff. We knew a lot about him anyway, and then once he got here, once we were able to slow down and not try to teach him too much, now focusing on the little things on a few of the rush capability things he can do, he is pretty solid in that area. Just like Denzel, here is a rookie that has to learn how to stay healthy. That is not easy to do, and you have to do everything in your power to stay healthy. Otherwise, the business is too tough and you move on."
On if Ward needs to break bad habits as it relates to staying healthy:
"No. No, it is just all young rookies. Rookies have to understand that this is not a scholarship league. You have to stay healthy and be on the field. If you are not on the field, then you are not helping us, and that is what you have to do. You have to be on the field and play."
On clarifying if the tackling problem is a bad habit:
"Oh no. No, those are things when he has to go through the process with us, and I think this was a good enough shock that maybe he thinks that I might know what I am talking about."
On difficulty teaching DBs to use their arms and wrap up when tackling:
"It depends on the size of the person. Also, I am not worried as much about the wrap up part of it as it is about getting the guy to the ground. What you do is you cut the guy. He should have cut the guy that time right there instead of a 290-pound man running over his face."
On how Ward has been progressing in attacking the football:
"He came here and has already shown some people – I think (Ohio State associate head coach/defensive coordinator) Greg Schiano did a great job of teaching some of those things there. He has been an example from Day 1 on how to play the ball in the air in man to man, and it has kind of bled to the group. I think Denzel set that example pretty well back in the spring. He still does a pretty good job of playing the ball. He has a very natural way of doing that."
On Ward's backpedal:
"Very good. Yeah, he is fine. All of those things are good."
On DB Damarious Randall's transition to S from CB in the NFL after playing S in college:
"I wanted to take him – I think I told you guys this back in the spring – we evaluated him as a free safety when I was with the Rams. We would have loved to have gotten him as a free safety at that time, but I like the fact that he is multiple positional. That is good that he already has a NFL experience playing more things than the free safety position. He needs the experience of playing the free safety because he has more experience at the NFL level not playing that position. This has been a good training camp and a good spring for him getting him ready to go to that area. I like the fact that he can do more than just play free safety."
On DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun playing S and nickel in the preseason:
"Played him last year at some of those positions also but just could not get him away from just playing the nickel position. I can't remember, but he was up there at the very top, if he was not rated as the top nickel in the league. There was a long time there in the league where he was playing so well at that nickel position. We just did not have anyone else that could play. We tricked some things last year where he, even from the nickel position, had to play the free safety spot or a free safety responsibilities so he had that responsibility coming in here. We trained him also on the backup role last year to be ready to do that. He just got more time, and I thought it was very good to see him play and play very comfortably last week."
On DBs in general using their shoulder to knock opponents down:
"The big thing is you got to get him down. Whether it is a cut tackle or whether it is a wrap tackle – we call it a gator tackle where we wrap and twist and get them twisted off of their feet, that type of stuff – we are a really good tackling football team here, and I think we were in the top two or three last year overall at not only at that position but all positions. We just have to continue to keep doing that. Sometimes at the corner spots – depends on what college you are at – you do not get much reps at that until you get up here at this level, and sometimes when you get trucked by a big man, you learn to get lower and do something different."
On LB Jamie Collins Sr. performing at a high level after recovering from injury:
"I mentioned this to somebody else asked me that question earlier today about that is that was the first time Jamie was ever hurt in his life – in high school, college and everything. That is a lonely time when you are hurt, and you have to battle through that both physically and mentality. He has made some giants strides the whole training camp. It was fun to see the reaction on his face of getting back out there and playing in the first preseason game. His ability of game to game to game has gone light years, and the play that he made on the interception, I can't coach that. That is his instincts. Now, we coach that in a way that we love for everybody to do, but I do not have to say that more than once to Jamie. He had a great feel of what we call a poach technique where he went back and stole a route because he knew the quarterback was going there. It is not something that everybody can do, and it is fun to see him do that."
On the Browns LBs and how LB Mychal Kendricks has fit in the group:
"All of those, all of those guys have fit in well and it is good position flexibility there. It is good."
On DB Jabrill Peppers and his role:
"He is good. He has done very well, but again he and D.K. (DB Derrick Kindred) both play so hard that there is going to be some nicks and bruises. It is good that you have two guys playing the same spot. Also, those guys play – we have certain packages where they play like linebackers. D.K. is one of the best guys I have ever had a chance to coach in the box on the run, plays really good zone and has improved his man-to-man skills. Jabrill has done a very good job overall of getting that feel back in there. He has played more of that nickel linebacker position over the strong safety position, but that nickel linebacker position is one that he has done more of. His comfort level there is better than at the box safety position, but he has now gotten enough reps at the box safety position that we feel like we could play either one. Without getting too technical, it is fun when you are doing that where the offense has to figure out our plan. Who is playing what position? It changes some of the things that they have terminology wise about trying to locate and see what they are doing."
On how DB E.J Gaines was playing prior to his injury:
"He had a really good week until he got the banged knee here at practice but has really come on. I know him very well. I had an opportunity to draft him and coach him for several of years. That is one plus for him where I know him and have been in games with him. I am not worried about what he can and can't do. I just want him to be healthy."