Included below are select quotes from interviews with the following Browns players during today's media availability:
- RB Duke Johnson Jr.
- DB Joe Haden
- OL Joe Thomas
RB Duke Johnson Jr.:
On to what he attributes the Browns' success in the run game:
"The guys up front. The guys up front and the play calling. It is really everybody – receivers doing their job, tight ends, everybody from top to bottom and (QB) Cody (Kessler) coming in and knowing when to give the ball and when not to. It goes to pretty much everyone."
On how well suited he and RB Isaiah Crowell are for the Browns rushing game:
"The scheme? The offense is great. We love it. We know we still have a lot more opportunities to go out and just show that we can play."
On the Browns potentially having two RBs rush for more than 1,000 yards this season:
"If I can hold onto the ball (laughter)…"
On if there is an emphasis on the running game to take pressure off of Kessler:
"That is what we try to do. Knowing his situation and knowing Cody is stepping in and having to go out and play, we just try to make every play that we can. We first like to protect him and make sure that he has a clean pocket to throw when it is his time to make a play for the team, but when our number is called, we try to make plays and just get him in manageable positions to lead the offense."
On differences in his second NFL season:
"I'm more comfortable. I'm more comfortable than I was my first year. First year, I was just going out and just getting a feel for it, just playing and not really thinking about much. Just nerves and just being in the NFL as a rookie and just playing to where now, I am on my second year, and more of my mental game has expanded a lot."
On growing alongside many other young Browns players:
"I love it. I was there last year so I can understand what they are going through. The coaches are asking a lot from them, regardless of what round you were picked, where you were drafted. It really does not matter. When you are on this team, Coach is going to ask a lot from you, regardless of who you are, where you came from. Me being there last year, I can kind of relate to them and talk to them a little bit and just get them to understand that there is nothing personal, it is just for the better of the team."
DB Joe Haden:
On how special it is to play against Patriots QB Tom Brady:
"In my book, he is the greatest ever. He is my favorite quarterback of all time. I really like (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers, but Tom Brady, he is my favorite quarterback, just the way that he is able to just basically be like a coach on the field, and when you say that, just being able to run the total offense, being able to be so calm and patient and read defenses, make checks and make calls. I just think that he is the best to do it."
On if there is any chance Brady will be rusty after missing the first four games of the NFL season:
"I don't think so. I think he is going to come back and just be ready to go. He is a true professional. Whenever he is out on the field, he studies professionally, he knows where he wants to go with the ball and he is confident in his players. Him and his coach, they have been together for so long so they just know each other like the back of their hands. I think that he is going to come back in mid-season form."
On his advice to younger Browns defensive players as they prepare to face Brady and the Patriots:
"Just do your job. Do your job, study the tape, just make sure that you are in your alignment, in your assignment and your technique. Just go hard. Try to make plays. You can't really get too much involved in that. He is what he is. He is going to be able to make his plays, but at the same time, we have to make sure that we are in our gaps. We have to make sure that we are doing our things and making sure we are winning our one-on-one matchups so end of the day, if the guys are not open, he can't throw the ball. You have to make sure we are on top of our stuff."
On matchup difficulties with Patriots TEs Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett:
"It makes it pretty difficult because both of them are very, very good receiving tight ends and both of them are big dudes that can block so they are Tom Brady's main targets. You just have to make sure you stay on top of them. They are just very good pass catchers and you have a good dude throwing you the ball, also, so you just have to make sure that you stay locked into them."
OL Joe Thomas:
On facing Patriots QB Tom Brady:
"It is going to be a great challenge for us because we don't have any film on him this year so far. Who knows what he is going to come out and do? Who knows? He might come out and be an option quarterback. I know that (Patriots Head Coach Bill) Belichick and the Patriots, they like to be unpredictable. It is a big challenge for our defense this week."
On continuing the Browns' strong running game:
"As we have success, the stakes become higher. People will try to sell out more in trying to stop the run game. One thing we know about the Patriots and being a guy that played through two Belichick disciples for four years, they are going to try to take away what we do the best. Currently, it is run the football. We can expect them to come up with some big time wrinkles to try to take away our run game and do things to sell out so we have to throw the ball."
On the Browns offensive line having success despite changes to the lineup:
"First of all, you have to give most of the credit to (Head Coach) Hue Jackson and the schemes that he is coming up with from week to week, putting us in position to run the ball against different fronts. You look at what he makes defenses try to do, they have protect and defend every play we have because one play, he is putting (WR) Terrelle Pryor (Sr.) back in the backfield and he is running the read option. The next play, Terrelle is in the backfield running a pass play or a naked (boot). The next play we are running Crow (RB Isaiah Crowell) at you. The next play we are throwing the ball on a swing pass to (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.). It really makes it very, very tough on defenses to try to come up with a good gameplan to try to defend what Hue is doing because it is different every week. He is able to quickly identify what they are trying to do to stop us, and then we are able to come up with a way to defeat their second and third plan. That is a big part of it, but then I'd also say that you look at the way Duke and Isaiah, especially in running the ball right now, it is impressive. They are running with a lot of anger. The first and second guy are not going to be tackling most people right now. It is fun to block for a guy like Crow and a guy like Duke when they run so hard. Even when we have them blocked for 2 yards, they gain 4 [yards]."