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Browns offensive assistants press conferences - 11/18

Quarterbacks coach Kevin O'Connell

On naming QB Johnny Manziel the starting QB:

"Obviously, we communicate a lot. Coach Pett (Head Coach Mike Pettine) does a great job communicating with all the position coaches and really finding out what is going on on a daily basis and how hard the guys are working and progressing. We use the word progress a lot because whether you are a veteran or a young guy, it is very, very important to come in every day with a plan to get better because individually. If we all can get a little bit better every day, then the sum of the team, we should be better as a football team. With the decision to go to Johnny, I know it was a tough one just because obviously (QB) Josh (McCown) has played so well this year and really done everything that we have asked, and Johnny has, as well. I have been so proud when Johnny has gotten in the game. He has been prepared. He has worked extremely hard to be prepared. When he had the opportunities, whether it be the three starts or the other games he played in, grading the film, there was always a lot to be really encouraged about."

On if Manziel understands how much goes into being an NFL QB:

"Yeah. From the time I have arrived in the spring and the players were allowed back in the building, we have talked about that daily. Even if your process is perfect and even if you go about the week and you are prepared in every facet for the team you are playing, it is still really hard to go out there and execute a gameplan at this level just because the defenses are so good and the coaches we are going up against have gameplans to try to stop what we do well. It takes a lot at the quarterback position. I know Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo), and I take a lot of pride in our quarterbacks being really prepared for the games on Sunday, not only what they are going to see but what we are doing, getting us into the right plays and more importantly out of bad plays. That puts a lot on the quarterback's plate. We expect Johnny to go in there and operate the offense just like Josh McCown was doing. I think that will give us an opportunity as an offense to continue to move the ball. We are all looking to improve over the bye week. Coach Pett talked a lot about if every guy individually can continue to improve and figure out the little things, the little details we are always talking about to improve on, I think the sum of everybody all together will come back ready to fight like heck to won some football games."

On if Manziel has the needed dedication and drive:

"Absolutely. I think he has shown. Having a guy like Josh McCown in that quarterback room, some of the guys I have been around in my past, you have to understand the mentality that it takes to come into the building every day with energy and an attitude that the other guys will thrive off of. Your own personal preparation is one thing. I think he has learned what it takes to prepare personally on a daily basis to play this position, but to lead an offense, you have to be ready for every play in practice. You have to be ready for every individual period, how we are going to throw certain routes, what the protection calls are going to be against this team that runs a completely different front than the team we played seven days ago. There are a lot of things that go into it and if you are not prepared playing with some of the veterans we have up front and at the receiving position, it will expose you. Johnny has done a great job all season long of being prepared not only for his reps in practice, but even when he has not started games, he has come in and been prepared to play whether he was the guy or not that week, which I have been really happy with him about."

On the future and upside for Manziel:

"I think it is really easy to sit back and want to look at the big picture, but the way we handle this positon and these guy prepare on the daily basis, it really is about the million little things. You have to find the focus to attack because you never know what is going to be the play that produces a win for us. At this position right now in our offense, we are expecting a lot out of the quarterback positon. For me to look big picture and for him to look big picture right now would be a mistakes. For today, it was about him having a good practice today and preparing himself for this bye week and getting the recovery and the rest he is going to need to come back and really have a great day when the guys are back in Tuesday. It is the little things. Every little individual period of practice leads to each individual play in the game. That is what I think he has done a great job of is treating each play as their own. Perfect example would be the way the game started out the other day. Not how we drew up starting that football game, and I know it would have been hard for me to go right back out there and be right back in a third-and-long situation to find Travis Benjamin for that explosive gain on the road at Pittsburgh. You can name the bricks that were stacked against him at that point. He finds a way to make a play and really has his best game as a pro. I was proud of the mental toughness that he showed to go along with what he did physically in that football game."

On if Manziel leaves for the bye week with his iPad and assignments to look over his notes:

"Absolutely, he will leave here with his iPad, whatever you call them. We have switched in the past year. I don't want to get in trouble for saying the wrong surface tablet, whatever it is. I know he has been hard at work preparing for Baltimore, even though we haven't gotten full-speed into that gameplan yet. We have already played them so we have some tape of us playing them, their game from this past weekend and I know they will play this weekend. That is what I would recommend to him to watch, make sure he has seen that film by the time he comes back in Tuesday. Obviously, the practices that we have had out here and the elements of the gameplan we hope to have in and make sure he is dialed in with not only what we are going to be asking him to do and that is a lot on my plate as well but what the Ravens do and how they have changed since the last time we played them and what we need to be ready for. To answer your question, he will be preparing for Baltimore during this bye weekend."

On how much Manziel and the O'Connell are still learning about each other, given his skillset:

"I think a lot has been made out of what his thought process is in the pocket and what we coach has been pretty consistent. We never want to take his ability to make plays out on the perimeter and especially when we need those types of plays. You never want to coach that or try to get that out of a guy, especially someone as talented as Johnny and making those plays, and really Josh McCown, when you look back on some of the big plays we have made this year, it has been the same variety – getting out and making a play to (WR) Travis (Benjamin) or (TE) Gary (Barnidge) or (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.), whoever it may be. With Johnny, the whole process is if he is relied upon that his whole career, for me, it is just about limiting those plays where we can make the position – it sounds crazy – easier for him. If there is a completion to be had that can move the chains here, take it. If there is a sight adjustment or a hot route when teams are trying to pressure him that he can take away, he can allow his teammates to help him make plays. That will make the impactful plays like the run he had against Pittsburgh or some of the plays where he has gotten out of the pocket and really made impactful plays this season, they just carry a little bit more weight when they are the plays they come in spurts instead of six or seven, eight times in a row where we are trying to make that game-changing play in a row because you are just not going to be able to do it at this level."

On marveling at Manziel when he gets away from guys grabbing his jersey:

"He has a special ability and so much of it is just instincts and understanding how he is going to be attacked in the pocket by defenders. His ability to get out of trouble sometimes, he has shown it his whole life. You watch him play early on and he has been able to do things like that. Trust me, we sit back sometimes and you rewind the tape a couple extra times when you see him make some of those plays."

Assistant offensive line coach George DeLeone

On how tough it was to take over for former offensive line coach Andy Moeller:

"Andy Moeller is a great friend of mine, and he's a hell of a coach and a good man. The biggest transition was I think for me personally. He's a really, really good man, and I miss him, and I think that was it. From a player's standpoint, I think the players are pros. They bounced right off the horse and got right back on from Day 1. They handled it great."

On the biggest challenge in his new role:

"The biggest challenge was Andy and I had done, I thought, a real good job of splitting the work load up. When Andy left, we had to take over a lot of what I did and what Andy did, but that was no problem. We got that ironed out. I think that was initially an issue, but I think it worked out great and we handled it pretty well."

On how OL Cameron Erving played in his first start:

"Cam played with great energy. Cam played with great intensity. I thought he was all over the field. He really played hard. Unfortunately, he had a few mistakes that ended up costing him, costing us and costing him and the shame of it was they were mistakes that an experienced player will not make, and in another game, they'll be mistakes that he won't make again. He's played spot duty here and there, but that was a real game. He knew what to do, but he didn't know the exact detail of how to do it. To be fair about it, the mistakes he made were, I would say, advanced calculus. There were some tough situations that came up that an experienced player would have done better. We love his enthusiasm. We love the way he played hard. There are a couple plays on that film you could say, 'Wow, this guy's going to be a really good player.'

On if Erving may made mistakes because he played too hard:

"No, I don't think that was his issue. I think his issue was just one of, without getting into the details of it, it was he knew his assignment – one play specifically that I remember he knew his assignment – came off the ball like a freaking maniac, but they didn't do exactly what they had done prior and they had a blitz and he didn't react quick enough and he wasn't looking for it, where a more experienced guy would have said, 'Oh OK, the alignment of the linebacker would judge that that may be this blitz that I know.' Every mistake that was made is correctable. I'd rather have it the way that it happened, not that I want to go into a game with those mistakes, but I'd rather have the effort level, the intensity level was really good, and now, we have to get him to the exactness. It's a little more complicated sometimes than you think. He got some good things right, and I think he's got a great future."

On if it is fair for the OL to take responsibility for the struggles with the running game:

"I think that we'll take the blame for any mistakes that we've made, and I think our guys have been really good about that. We look every week at the film and see what went wrong and what can we do to improve. I want to let you know that those guys are trying their tails off. Any blame that goes to the run game, you can look right at me because it's my job to get them right. It's been one thing or another, but I'm responsible for those guys and that's the key."

On how difficult the transition to the new running scheme has been for the OL:

"It's our job to block the play that's called. It's our job to work on this offense. It's our job to have success with what we're doing now. We can't look in the past. All of those first downs that we may have made last year here and there didn't mean anything this year. We've got to do it this year. I don't think it's a comfort level. We have to play better with the plays that are called this year. That simple."

On OL Joel Bitonio's improvement in his second year:

"My problem with it is there are unbelievable expectations for that guy. I think that guy is really, really good, and when he doesn't play – I'm talking about in practice or a game – at a superior level, you're saying 'Wow.' You're disappointed. The reality is this guy is a hell of a player, and he really gives great effort. He's into it. You wouldn't want a better attitude, you wouldn't want a tougher guy, you wouldn't want anything better. The expectations are so high that at times they're tough to reach. Is he playing well? Yeah, he's doing OK. He's doing OK. Last year he got off to a tremendous start. Things just clicked. This year, I would say that he's playing really well, but we expect him to be All-Pro. That's the problem – everybody does, including me and including Joel. Every play you expect to be an All-Pro, and sometimes, you're not an All-Pro."

On if Alex Mack is 100 after his injury last season:

"I'll say the same thing: Alex, those five games that he played last year were at an unbelievably high level. I haven't seen many centers play like he played in those first five games. Again, if the standard is that, it's going to be hard for anybody to reach that. It's going to be really hard. I think he's playing well. Is there some effect to it? You'll have to ask Alex. Again, looking at the film the prior year when we first got here and then looking at those first five games, I'm saying to myself, 'This guy is phenomenal.' He made some plays in those first five games last year that were just – I've never seen plays like he made. He was playing at an extremely high level. Again, if you're expectation level is that every play, sometimes you're going to be disappointed. Sometimes you will be. He's doing very well. Some of the things that he does, you just take for granted. Like there are a lot of times in our protection scheme he just has to block the guy one-on-one by himself and that happens over and over again, and no one says anything because he does it. You just assume great things. Like (OL) Joe Thomas, same thing with Joe. You're over at left tackle, they have a good pass rush over there and you just assume Joe is going to block them, and that's the same thing with Alex. I think he's doing OK, but it's hard to compare those first five games last year, no doubt about it."

On if it has helped or hurt Erving's development to occasionally play in the extra tight end spot:

"I don't think it's hurt his development. He's a rookie. You have to understand, too, this kid, our plan for him – let's find out what he can do best. He started in camp, he played all five positions. In the preseason, he played all five positons so we didn't have the luxury to put him in a spot and just say, 'Here, learn this and do it.' He had to learn the whole offense. In the long run, that's helped him because he now has a greater grasp of the whole offense. In the short term, he probably would have been better off if we left him to one spot exclusively, but our goal was to get him on the field as soon as we could. We had to mix it in there, mix and match get him dribs and drabs to get him in games. That helped him in the game Sunday in the fact that that wasn't his first real action. From that standpoint, it helped him. From his development mentally, I think he's a smart enough kid that I think in the long run, it'll help him, but I don't know in the short term if he just played one position, obviously, he would have gotten more exposure there and probably would have done a little better."

Wide receivers coach Joker Phillips

On having a difficult season with the WRs, given multiple concussions and other challenges:

"First of all, we have a good unit. We have some veteran guys. (WR Taylor) Gabriel is a young guy that has become a veteran in a hurry. We have a good group. The thing you do, 'next man up' has been our motto. Whoever is available, I think we have had pretty decent production for the most part outside. (WR) Travis Benjamin has become an impactful player in this league and has helped us. (TE) Gary Barnidge has had to pick up a heavy load this year. We have had a lot of production from the players outside so far."

On Benjamin's season:

"One thing, Travis is a very conscientious player. He always has concerns about his play and how he looks as a professional. He carries himself very well on the football field. He studies the game, and I think that has given him the chance to line up in at a number of positons in our offense and make plays for us."

On Benjamin's adjustment to additional coverage after his success in the first few weeks:

"One of the things is that he doesn't get frustrated. That is the thing as a receiver – you can't get frustrated and cut your route off or run the wrong route. The thing he has done is be consistent in what he is doing and trusting the quarterbacks read, and the quarterback has done a really good of going through the reads, and if he is not there, go to the next one. We have a chance to get other guys involved with the double coverages we have seen from other teams, especially in the red zone."

On if he is familiar with WR Brian Hartline's background as a WR:


On Hartline's past and his future:

"I have sat in his home. He was off at school, but you do get a feel for how he was raised. I did follow him because his brother was with me. I have followed his career throughout his time, even at Ohio State and in the NFL. I hope that had an influence in us getting him here. I know a lot of it had to do with him wanting to get closer to home also and finish his career out here. He is a really, one of the craftiest players I have been around in terms of understanding leverage. He is smart. He can fix things for us when maybe we have two guys in there that play the same positons. Hart can get them lined up. It has happened at times, especially with injuries. When injuries occur, Hart has been able to get them lined up and adjust himself and play a position he has never played before. He missed a game and a half with injuries in the San Diego game and the Cincinnati game. It would have been good to have him in those games because you miss his intelligence on the football field."

On how often Hartline is open:

"You ask him, and he is open every time (laughter). That is every receiver. There have been times where he hasn't been open where the quarterback has just trusted him that he would make a play, and he has made a play. He has made some unbelievable plays for us this year when you thought nothing was there. The quarterbacks have enough trust in him, and he has been able to make a couple of those plays early in the season. Now, they trust him even more that he will make a play for him. Sometimes he is not open and you give him a chance. The one thing about some guys is open is being able to throw them away from a defender. That is what has happened with Hartline. He is tightly covered and they can throw him away from the coverage, whether it be inside or outside, and he has made plays for them."

On if Hartline has stabilized after potentially pressing and dropping passes weeks ago:

"I don't think he presses. One thing, he is a competitor and a competitive player. He wants to bring a playoff team to this city. This is home to him. That is one of the thing he stressed in coming here and all throughout the season when we first started. He competes. Drops are going to happen. They don't often happen from him. When they do happen from him, everybody is surprised because he is such a sure-handed person."

On the difficulty of missing WR Andrew Hawkins again to a concussion:

"One of the things is Hawkins is one of our emotional leaders on offense. He is a guy who really came up the tough way. He puts a lot into this game emotionally. He puts a lot of his emotions into this game. That is how the game should be played. That is why you see when guys retire how emotional they get because they have put so much into it. It has been tough not having him there because of his emotional leadership that he brings to us."

On coaching the WRs now that Manziel is the starting QB:

"Stay alive. It was no different with Josh because Josh made a lot of plays. Very few quarterbacks have played caught-back passes as a receiver in this league. Josh is one of those guys. He definitely has some athletic ability. I am coaching them no different. Johnny extended plays a little bit longer than Josh, but Josh extended plays, too, with his feet. We have made numerous plays on scramble plays this year, even with Josh. Now, you have to understand they might be a little bit longer or extended with Johnny."

On considering Manziel at WR:

"You think of Johnny, and there is nothing he couldn't do. I bet he could start in the NBA. He could play shortstop. He is just one of those type of athletes. He is a great athlete that could probably play anything."

On the adjustment Benjamin made on the 61-yard gain against the Steelers:

"It was an instinct thing. Travis understood that Johnny had gotten out of the pocket. When he hit his back foot on his drop, nobody was open so Johnny extended the play, and Travis moved to an open area. I think a lot of big plays have already come in this offense by scrambling. Actually, his first touchdown here against Tennessee, Johnny scrambled around and Travis broke open, and he hit him for a long touchdown. These guys understand that there have been a lot of big plays made in this offense in scramble plays. They know to keep themselves alive."

Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery

On the state of the Browns RBs:

"That's a tough question, especially being the running backs coach, because it's hard when you don't get opportunities to carry the ball. Everything you do as a runner, you have to get in rhythm. It's just that the way we've been playing and how we've been playing haven't allowed the running backs to do what they can do and to showcase their abilities out there on the field. When you're playing from behind or you make a lot of mistakes on early downs, jump offside or miscues, now you're playing behind the downs. You have to stay ahead of downs in order to be effective in the run game. The running backs have to get more yards when they have the opportunity, and the line has to do a better job and the tight ends have to do a better job on holding up their end of the bargain, as well, and that's blocking. No runner in this game is going to be able to execute when you don't have those things in front of your because you have to get started. This game is about, if you look at it, first half throughout the season, if you look at other running backs across the league or before then, you have to get into a rhythm, and the rhythm is when? After you have touched the ball a certain amount of times so you get a feel for what the defense is presenting to you or how they present it to you, you can go out there end execute those run plays. You get to understand the blocking scheme a little bit more and you can make your reads off the blocking scheme. It's a combination of a lot of things."

On if it was tough for RBs to find a rhythm when there were three players rotating:

"No, it wasn't hard because you have personnel groupings of how you call and present guys and you have plays for certain guys. If you go into the game, it's not a one-back game now if you don't have a bell cow. If you don't have a bell cow back, it's hard to say, 'Hey, we have one guy.' You don't have (Vikings RB) Adrian Peterson to be the bell cow guy here like he is there in Minnesota. You don't have that bell cow guy like you're hoping that (Rams RB) Todd Gurley is right now. We don't have that. We don't have guys that have been drafted that high that can do that. You have a list of young guys that are trying to play their roles and whatever their roles call, there are things that (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.) is good at doing that Crow (RB Isaiah Crowell) is not good at doing, and there are things Crow is good at that Duke is not. (Former Browns RB and Cowboys RB Robert) Turbin, we never did. Turbin was never 100 percent. We just knew he was a downhill guy, between the tackles guy. It's hard to play guys when you put the ball on the ground because not only do you let the team down, you let the city down, you let the organization down and it's a nasty feeling when you fumble the ball. He understands that and he hadn't been hit so I would take the blame on that because I don't think the timing was there. He hadn't been in any of camp. I didn't know anything about Turbin when we picked him up, and I didn't get a chance to work with him. Therefore, it was new to me to put him in there. We talk about his problems because he carried the ball low, and when you carry the ball low, you're going to have that fumbling problem."

On RB Duke Johnson Jr. not playing in the second half of some games:

"That's a question you have to ask Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) because I don't call the plays. I'm not the play caller so I put guys in the game based on, like I said, we call personnel groupings and they run out on the field based on that, but I'm not the play caller."

On if he is satisfied with the commitment to the running game:

"I can't answer that one. I can't answer that question because you look the history of the guys that I had (laughter), they got the ball."

On if it is disappointing when QB Johnny Manziel has been the leading rusher in a game rather than an RB:

"He has the opportunity, he has more freedom, he has an open field when he's out of the pocket. He's scrambling. He's not calling Johnny plays on first and second down and then running the ball. The lanes are there for him when he's scrambling out. It's not there for the running backs. That's different."

On the purpose of running the Wildcat:

"That's a tough one, too (laughter). Most people put in a gadget or two so it takes the defense of opposing teams that you're going to play in the future. It gives them other things to work on because they know you have it in your package. It takes some time putting that in, but you have to be more innovative and do a lot of things with that. When that came in the league a few years back, it was the new thing. It's still a part of the game and you just have to work it if you want to be good at it. We have so many other things we have to work on to get good at."

On if he has been frustrated by the lack of opportunities for the RBs:

"When you're the running back coach or you're the o-line coach, a big part of the game is running the ball, as well, but I know everyone wants to see pass, pass, pass. The running game is what it is. You just want to win. I think the biggest question is to win, and however you choose to win, if it's throwing, it's throwing – we have to be satisfied with that. If you're giving it to the back to run, then you have to be happy with that. I think both parts, you have to find a balance in it and then live with what you choose to do."

On if he has ever previously experienced a 22 game stretch without a 100-yard rusher:

"No because you go back look at the history of the guys that I've worked with, this is new territory for me not having 'that guy' in the backfield."

On if it was a misconception that the Browns would be a running team this season:

"I don't know. The game, a lot of times it dictates how it's going to be itself. When you go into camp and the expectation, everybody is getting enough reps and you're trying to figure out who is going to be the guy, who is going to be the lead horse for you. Then when the lights come on, you're still looking for that guy. You'd like for somebody to step up and something to happen quick, but the one thing about the running game, it takes 11 guys to make it work and it's not on the runner. It takes 11 guys. Everybody has to do their job. The running back has his keys, he has his reads. He has to know when he's running off the double team, when he's running off the single block and he has to press the holes at times and then make his cuts off of that. Are they right all the time? No, but the majority of the time, they're going to be right. That's just like dropping back throwing the ball. Quarterback going to right all the time? No. There are decisions made at the snap of the ball, and then, you have to go from there. Yeah, I think it's frustrating for everyone."

On the biggest difference in Crowell this year compared to last year:

"He's more durable this year. He's more durable, and I think he's more explosive this year because I think he's more relaxed in his role. You have to give him the opportunity to be Crowell, just like you have to give Duke the opportunity to be Duke. All of these guys, if you talk to them, they're going to tell you they want the ball. They want the ball. You can give them the ball, but again, we have to win. We have to win our individual battles. We have to win our individual wars up there. The running backs have to make people miss at times and they have to break tackles in order to get going, but the thing of everything you do as a runner, you like to get started. You just like to get started. That's the key to running the ball, the getting started because once you get started, you have a decision point that you have to get to. The decision point is where he makes his decision and that comes off his keys. His keys, he's reading if he's reading the first down lineman on the inside zone or he's reading the first down lineman on the outside zone. Those things don't change. He has a landmark he has to hit, and if he can get to his landmark, that's when you make your decisions. Then when you make your decisions from that point, then you go north. A lot of people say north and south, but south is not a thing that a running back likes to hear because he's losing yards if he's going south. It's more north."

On explaining runs for loss:

"I was shocked at Pittsburgh because Pittsburgh was never a penetrating defense. They were always a key-read defense, a two-gap defense. They saw where you were going then they would run and make tackles. They played fast. This Pittsburgh defense was different. They penetrated, and that was the difference in the ball game because now, they're getting you off your spot, they're getting you off your landmark and that becomes a trouble for the backs and for the offensive linemen and the tight ends. Now, you work against something that you thought they were and then you get in a game, they're doing something totally different. Those guys were big and strong and explosive, and they were getting up field on us."

Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio

On TE Gary Barnidge's production this season and if it's come as a surprise:

"Gary has always been a guy that's prepared as if he's been a starter his whole career. It's just a credit to him, his work ethic, his preparation and just having the opportunity. He has certainly made the most of it."

On if he knew Barnidge's hands were so exceptional, given the catches he's made this season:

"Obviously, there have been a couple catches that you really don't see very often that are certainly splash plays. He's always had good hands, consistent, reliable hands, and I think that's important certainly for that position because you're constantly asked to make contested catches over the middle with people around you, whereas if you're outside on the perimeter, they are more just one-on-one balls. He certainly is a guy and all the guys that play that position have to have good hands."

On if he has noticed differences in coverages as opponents have become more aware of Barnidge:

"With anything, defenses have to choose if they're going to protect the inside of the field or the outside of the field. That's the nice thing when you have a tight end that can control the middle of the field is you put the defense in a little bit of a bind. Some weeks, they're going to take away the middle; you throw it outside. Other weeks, they're going to take away the outside, and you can get opportunities in the middle."

On what makes TEs like Barnidge and Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski so hard to stop:

"Size is always a matchup issue. It may not necessarily be the speed, but it's the size and the body. It's hard to go through those guys that are 250 pounds. Gronk is as good as it gets. I think size has a lot to do with it. If you have ball skills and are able to high point the football and have an idea of how the coverage is going to play down there, you see that those opportunities can develop."

On if Barnidge and TE Jim Dray are playing more than he anticipated:

"That usually varies week to week by gameplan. Some weeks, you may need to have another guy up at this position because of the matchups because of what the defense or offense that we're playing that week presents so we're going to be a little bit more heavy in this coverage or in this personnel grouping. Injuries play a role so that varies week-to-week. What you try to do is get the guys up that week that give you the best opportunity to win the football game."

On how the TEs have been blocking in the running game:

"Those guys have been doing this now in this run scheme for two years, and they've done a good job. They've been solid. They're going to go out there and get a hat on their guy and give great effort. Like anything, the guys on the other side of the field are professionals and it's going to be a battle each week. Some blocks, we're going to win, and other blocks, we would like to be a little bit better on."

On if TEs have been more productive in the NFL this season:

"I think it's always been there in the league, but it probably just gets publicized more. Any time you have a chance to have big guys, those 6-4, 6-5 guys running down the middle and able to use their body, it presents problems for defensive players. Typically on their side of the ball, guys that are that big are 280 pounds so they're not going down the field to cover."

On if TEs are stepping up more in the passing game, given the injuries at WR:

"I think that's just however defenses want to game plan. I think you go in saying, 'Hey, we want to take away these people and we want to make them beat us in this area.' You never really know until the game starts. You can project how you think they're going to play it, but you get a sense of that within the first quarter of a game, what the gameplan is going to be for the defense that week."

On TE E.J. Bibbs development:

"E.J. is working hard, working hard in the classroom, learning the NFL game and all the demands that go in with it. I'm very happy with his work ethic and how he's going about his business everyday being a pro because that's the learning curve, too, for these rookies. It's a long season. We talked about it the other day. It's 14 games in when you consider the regular season and the preseason – his college season over. We have six more now, and it is just like its Day 1 when he walked in this building. That's got to be our mindset where we're going to get better every day and take it one day at a time."

On TE Randall Telfer returning to the field:

"It's great to have Randall out. He's been awesome in the meeting room. He's got two great veterans to learn from with Jim and Gary. His preparation has been great, been taking notes. It was good to finally see him on the grass running around and being able to actually physically do things."

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