Included below are select quotes from interviews with the following Browns players during today's media availability:
- QB Josh McCown (full transcript)
- OL Joe Thomas
QB Josh McCown:
On if he has been cleared to play:
"We will see. We are moving in that direction. That is a good thing. I will be able to go out there and practice again today. Then, we will see how it goes."
On if he will practice more than he has been:
"Every week, we are gaining some ground and doing more. That is the idea. Obviously, to what extent as we work together is really at (Head) Coach's (Hue Jackson) discretion and how we are feeling."
On if he has had a recent 'X-ray or something' that showed he may be able to play Sunday:
"What would or something be? (laughter) I'm just kidding. I have had X-rays recently, yeah. That is part of the process when you're in the healing process. You have X-rays and somethings. I have had all of those."
On if the X-ray results provided good news:
"Obviously, the doctors and everybody wouldn't allow me to be out there if we weren't going in the right direction. It is safe to say we are progressing and moving in the right direction. That is a good thing."
On being cleared to practice but not necessarily cleared to play in a game:
"Obviously, when you are coming off an injury, every day at practice you are always checking back in and making sure things are holding up the way you want them to. That is the mindset. I'm excited about getting to do a little bit more at practice and all that. It is a good step in the right direction."
On if he is practicing during the team period:
"That's the plan. It is a step in the right direction. Do a little bit more of that as we go along and we come together on it, see how we feel and see how Coach feels about it and move forward."
On if he may still be impeded by his injury or if is he over it:
"Obviously, whenever you are dealing with and when you are coming off of something, just because you haven't been doing the normal movements that you would, there is going to be just getting back into the groove and there is going to be some impeding. As it goes and as the weeks have gone by, it feels better and better. Hopefully, as we go out there today, you learn something every day when you're coming off of injury just where you're at. We will learn more today."
On rapid fire passing drills in practice and how his shoulder has responded:
"When you are doing stuff like that, if you can't do that – those are drills on air – if you can't hold up through that, then you are not moving in the right direction. Those things have been good drills. It has felt good doing those drills and coming out of those drills. Hopefully, that is a good sign."
On if a decision has been made about him playing Sunday or if it will be decided at the end of the week:
"Oh, I thought you were talking about if the Indians were going to win or not. (Laughter) That decision has been made. As we move along through the week, Coach will make his decision on what he sees best for the team. My job is to go out and do everything I can in practice to get myself ready. If it moves in that direction, that will be Coach's decision. Right now, it is just going out and putting good reps together in practice, what feels good."
On the NFL concussion protocol process and if it is hard to get cleared in one week:
"The steps that they have in place do make it pretty strenuous to get cleared in one week just because of the nature of dealing with the brain. I dealt with it last year for the first time. Just talking about the safety that they are applying to the game by putting those steps in place and those checks in place, and when you are in it, in the moment, as a player it's frustrating, but I think the long-term health of the guy is a good thing. Everybody is different. That is really the main thing is that I think we have seen guys come back in a week. It is just really those steps are in place and you pass those steps, and you move towards being cleared. It is really more on the individual and where that person is."
On if he has been surprised that he hasn't been cleared yet to play during the past couple weeks:
"No, I trust the doctors. That is why we have them. Similar to concussions, you have doctors that are there in place for a reason because it is the checks and balance of it all. Ultimately, players want to play. You want to be out on the field and you want to be out there playing. If we didn't have doctors, guys would go out there and play through a lot worse stuff and affect the long-term health of the league. That is the advancement that we have seen the last 20 years is that when you have doctors in place and people helping you make the right decisions, it is good for the long-term health of the player. A lot of guys want to play, but it is always up to the doctors on whether or not it's the right thing at that time. We trust those guys that are put in place and follow their lead."
On his mindset wanting to help the Browns get over the hump, given the success he was having against Baltimore:
"What we have said before, it is all hands on deck with everybody. We need everybody that can play and can be available to go out there and play their best. It is no different for myself. You do everything you can to help until you are available. When you are available, if your number is called, you go out there and help that way. Obviously, for me personally, that is my last bit of action, and it certainly lingers because it was a ton of good early in that game but didn't finish the way we wanted it to. We do need to take another step and get over that hump. Whether it is me on the field helping us get over that hump or me on the sideline helping whoever is out there get over the hump, that is the key is let's just come together and try to find a way to get this done."
On wanting to finish against the Jets, against whom he was knocked out of the game with a concussion on a 'helicopter' hit:
"How much would I like to land the helicopter (laughter)? Yeah, exactly, in the end zone with the ball (laughter). That would be great. For us, it is where we are in the season. It is the next game and it really the mentality that you always want to take is just the next one is the most important one. I always say, would it feel different around us if we were 7-0? Absolutely, especially in this city right now, but the plain fact would be that we would come in and prepare and plan on winning this game. We would not go, 'Oh, we are 7-0 so let's lose this one.' We would plan on winning this game. That is the same thing. That is a credit to our leadership, not only the veterans in this locker room but to where Coach Jackson is pointing us is just the mindset. It is different than anything I have been around for a team who has not found success in the win-loss column to keep coming to work the way we do. That is our mindset. Yeah, it is the Jets, and we could have had a great start last year that did not quite go, but at least we have (LB) Demario (Davis) here now (laughter), but it is the next game for us. That is the main thing. It is the next game so we have to come to work with an intense focus and go out there and do everything we can to win this game."
On outsiders saying that this is 'the game the Browns can win' compared to the rest of the schedule:
"No because that is what I mean, you never sit in before the season – and I know it is easy because I am a fan of other sports – it is human nature to sit and look at a schedule and go, 'Oh maybe that one. That one is going to be tough. This one…' When you are in it and you are in the locker room, the next game is the game. You are focused on it and that is the one you are planning on winning. We talk about that, expecting to win. That is part of the culture that Coach Jackson is building and that is what we are trying to create. There is a lot of adversity right now with that because we have not won, but I think it is special when you see a group of guys come to work and continue that mentality when it has not happened. We are going to stay together, and like I said, the veteran leadership in this locker room – you can talk about Hawk (WR Andrew Hawkins) and (OL) Joe Thomas and Grec (OL John Greco), and (DB) Tramon Williams (Sr.) and all these guys pulling guys along and really showing guys what it means to be pros and how to play week to week, and that is the idea. This is the next game. This is the one we are focused on. We want to get that feeling because hopefully, we get that feeling and we know that it will lead to more. Right now, we are focused on the Jets and then we will see what happens after that."
On how Jackson is stressing QBs needing to protect themselves and his advice to QB Cody Kessler on the play that he got hurt:
"It is hard because he was just trying to make a play, and he did make a play. (TE) Gary (Barnidge) makes a great catch, we advance the ball there further and we end up finishing the drive with a score. It is hard because you are a competitor. We talked about this last year in the Jet game. You talk about those things, but the reality is the old saying, 'Your best ability is your availability.' Hue is right. You have to keep yourself healthy. You have to be smart with the football both in the pocket and then when you are outside of the pocket. If there are moments when you can avoid unnecessary hits, you have to do that. You have to throw the ball away, slide, all those things. Those points are always stressed, but as a quarterback group, we have to continue to internalize that and maybe see it take place more on the field. Cody's situation last week in that game is tough because it is unique because like I said, he was climbing the pocket and trying to make a play. He got hit, but it was also the way his head hit the turf, and sometimes, those things you can't avoid. Certainly, that will be something that we are always going to focus on is trying to protect ourselves."
On his personal playstyle and being willing to hold onto the ball until the last second before making a throw, even when a hit is looming:
"It just depends on what is necessary to advance the football, but again, those are fine lines. It is kind of do we take a step back to take two forward and stay on the field. Those are decisions made in quick moments and in real time and split-second decisions. Those are hard decisions to make. As we train the quarterback and as they coach us, we are in tune to getting better at making those decisions and getting the ball out quicker and when to say 'uncle' and move on."
OL Joe Thomas:
On his reaction to Head Coach Hue Jackson saying the Browns are not trading him:
"It feels good to be loved. I am hoping they stick to their word. I really want to be here. It is important for me to be here for the turnaround."
On why he does not want to be traded:
"I am a goal setter. I am the kind of guy that is very goal oriented. To me, doing the things you say you are going to do is important. When I first got here, my goal was to make the playoffs and to be a part of turning the Browns around into a consistent winner. We haven't done that yet so my mission is not yet complete here. I really respect the coaching staff. I think Jimmy (Haslam) got it right this time by hiring (Head Coach) Hue (Jackson) and his staff. I think that the pieces are here. It will just take a little bit of time."
On if he was worried about being traded last year:
"I think some of the details came out after the fact, whether they were true details or not, the story that you got after the fact is usually what the reality is. I think there had been rumors going up to the trade deadline that Denver was interested. I had heard those same rumors. Now, I do not know to what level that was true, but like I said, I try not to focus on it too much because I have more important things to worry about during the season."
On if he feels jealous of other Browns players on Super Bowl teams:
"I do, and I want to have it in Cleveland."
On if he is healthy enough to practice this week:
"I am pretty good. I feel good. I am happy to be here. I probably will not practice today or tomorrow because that program has been working. Until anything changes, that is going to be the program going forward."
On if QB Josh McCown will provide a spark when he becomes healthy:
"I think it will be a huge boost. He obviously has played well for us when he has been in these past couple years. To be able to have him back would be awesome since the quarterbacks that are healthy right now do not have nearly as much experience that Josh does."