Included below are select quotes from interviews with the following Browns players during today's media availability:
- OL Joel Bitonio
- RB Isaiah Crowell
- QB DeShone Kizer (full transcript)
- DB Jabrill Peppers
- LB Joe Schobert
OL Joel Bitonio:
On if run blocking is more difficult than pass blocking for the entire offensive line as a unit:
"Pass blocking, a lot of things are one-on-one blocks. You have to block the guy in front of you. When you get in the run game, there are a lot more combinations and you are kind of working together to kind of achieve those goals so it takes more time to kind of develop that chemistry when you run the ball."
On if the run game has been impacted by the offensive line not playing together as a full unit until Week 1:
"It takes time to keep developing the chemistry. Yeah, I wish I would have practiced more in training camp, but I got a little banged up. The more we are at it, I think you are going to see a better chemistry on the O line and it is going to keep improving."
On if the Steelers and Ravens stacked the box to defend the run:
"I wouldn't say 'stacked the box,' but there was a safety that would fly in every once and a while and make a play. Earlier in the game, there were a few plays where we had it blocked pretty well and the safety was making the play at two yards or three yards and that is tough. He is usually not accounted for in the run game. I don't know if you could say they are 'stacking the box,' but they are there to stop the run, and I think we can all be a little bit better to help the run game out a little bit."
On RB Isaiah Crowell saying he is waiting to take over a game and if he feels the same way:
"Oh yeah, that is when you impose your will on defenses. You can pass block all day and you can do a good job pass blocking, but when you are running the ball and getting four, five, six yards a carry and breaking 12, 14, 16-yard runs, that is when you really feel good about yourself and you know you are kind of doing what you want on offense."
On how the Browns are different from last year, despite being 0-2:
"Yeah, we were in the game against Pittsburgh. We had a chance to get the ball back and go down there and win, and we made a lot of mistakes still. Same with Baltimore. We had five turnovers, and you can't win games like that. I think it is like a 99.7 percent thing if you turn the ball over five times you don't win. Besides those things and some little details, we are playing better. We are competitive. We can compete with these teams and it is turning that page and getting wins now. That is how we know. We are not just like, 'Oh, we went out there. We played.' We are trying to get out there and get a win and be competitive with these teams."
RB Isaiah Crowell:
On if he has talked to Head Coach Hue Jackson about getting the ball more:
"I haven't really said anything about it just because the first game, I feel like I had a good bit of carries. I just feel like things didn't go the way we wanted them to. Last game, I understand the situation. We just can't have so many turnovers and we just haven't been able to keep the ball or been able to run the ball as much as we want to, but it is just the second game. We are on Week 3 now so I hope it gets better, but I haven't said anything about it. I am just controlling what I can control. That is all I can do."
On if he has been able to get into a rhythm in either game this season:
"I don't feel like I have been, not this season. I hope it comes, but I don't feel like I have been in a rhythm yet this season."
On why Browns RBs seem to get better as the game goes on:
"I feel like it is just getting a rhythm. Say if you get a carry and you get like 15-20 yards, if you go back to that run or you have a few more of those runs, most likely you might have a 40-yarder or a 50-yarder coming because you just got in a rhythm. I feel like it is just getting into a rhythm and just feeling out the game and knowing how the defense is going to play. I feel like that is a big part of it."
On if he has some of his best runs in the fourth quarter because the defense is worn down:
"Usually, that is how it works. Usually that is how it works, but these first two games that has not been the case."
On how much trailing in each game has led to not running the ball as often:
"I don't know, maybe. That is your opinion. I don't know."
On how shotgun formations affect the run game:
"When you are in the shotgun, I don't feel like that is a big deal because I know a lot of teams run out of the shotgun, a lot of teams run out of 'I' and a lot of teams do both. I feel like I have what it takes to do both, and I don't really feel like that is a big deal."
QB DeShone Kizer:
On if playing Indianapolis this week comes as a relief after playing Pittsburgh and Baltimore in back-to-back weeks:
"This is the NFL. Every team can improve each week. Every week is going to be a tough one for us. It is on us now to get back to the drawing board and prepare as well as we can to come out and play well against Indianapolis."
On Colts S Malik Hooker:
"He is talented. We did a little training together in the pre-draft process. He has great ball skills. He is big in size. He is definitely going to be guy that we have to keep our eye on."
On Hooker's position placement on the field:
"They move him all over the place. That is what you can do with a young, talented, big-size guy like that. He will come into the box. He will play deep. He is kind of a good utility tool they have back there."
On what he has to be aware of with Hooker:
"Just where he is at. Every week when there is a free safety back there, as a quarterback, it is my job to see where he is, find where he is and manipulate him if I can. Every time I take my first two steps, we are trying to identify safeties, and I am going to make sure that I know where he is at and keep where he is supposed to be."
On if it is difficult to get into a rhythm with the WR corps with multiple changes in personnel:
"That is something that we spend time on in practice. We get so many reps with these guys in practice. We get to know them fast, and it is our job to find that chemistry within two days of work. That is what Wednesdays and Thursdays are for, for us."
On if the personnel changes can present challenges:
On what a win would do for him personally, as well as the entire team:
"You go 4-0 in the preseason and you get a little taste of winning in your mouth. The feel in the locker room, the vibe was ecstatic. Everyone was excited to get out there. Obviously, going through two losses in our first two regular season games kind of took that away from us. Now we want to get back to that so if we can get out there and pick up a W, hopefully, we can build off of that and start stringing together a couple more."
On if plays from the Ravens film show he is making progress:
"It is a new week. We are onto Indianapolis. Looking forward to having a good week of preparation and trying to do whatever I can to execute the game plan they are putting in front of me."
On if negative plays on the opening series and first quarter of games can set a tone that impacts the game:
"Absolutely. In this league, every drive is an important drive, but we understand the importance of momentum. When our defense plays as well as they do early in games, it is on us on the offensive side to also start fast. If we can get that momentum going early, catch a rhythm, you kind of keep the defense on its toes."
On if the QB run at the goal line was a called play:
"It was. It was, yeah."
On running the ball after returning from a migraine:
"I wasn't really experiencing any symptoms at the time. I was full go, ready to go. That was one of our gameplan plays."
On the importance of getting the running game going this week:
"It is huge. That is what offense is. It is the pass game complimenting the run game and the run game complimenting the pass game. It is big on us to execute all the way across the board. I know that we have two very talented backs and a very good offensive line and that we will be able to run the ball well. It is on us now to execute our jobs and buy into the gameplan that the coaches upstairs are putting together."
On the Browns TEs' performance and excitement with the group:
"Absolutely. You have two very big, talented guys inside who create some matchup issues. Whenever you can find that and exploit it, you have to be able to do it."
On the difficulty reading defenses at NFL speed:
"I have spent the last couple of months preparing for this. I think I am doing a pretty good job with it."
On what is missing from the offense completely clicking:
"It's just a consistency thing. We have holes in games that we have to eliminate. Everyone mentions the first drive, but there are also some things coming out of halftime that we have to get going. It is on us to have energy and on myself to make sure that I am pushing this offense as fast as I can so that we can have the same consistent energy that we have seen at times where we are driving the ball up and down on defenses."
On his high ranking in passes of 20-plus yards and if he is comfortable with that ratio:
"It is all me executing whatever (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson) puts in front of me. When you play against two defense that like to play press-man and you have some talented guys, you have to push vertical. That is what we have to do. At the time, obviously, we are not executing the way we can so we get right back out here at practice, get back in the sand, draw it back up and see if we can make it happen."
On if he likes pushing the ball down the field:
"Absolutely, this league is one where big plays, explosive plays can change a game. We are going after those explosive plays whenever we can."
On if he is more comfortable with the weekly process as a starting QB in the NFL:
"Absolutely, this is my first time repeating that process, and I'm very confident from the things I eat, the way I prepare, the film that I watch. I think Coach has put together a good plan for me. I bought into it last week and felt very prepared for the Baltimore game. Now, I'm going to go back and do the same exact thing this week. Hopefully I can feel just as prepared for Indianapolis."
On where he trained with Hooker and for how long:
"We have the same agency so we trained together at Proactive (Sports Performance) back in Orange County during the pre-draft process."
On what he learned about Hooker during that time:
"He is awesome. Really good dude. Hard worker. He was going through an injury at the time and he was trying to rehab. Obviously, you see him out there making some big plays now so he is committed to his job and does a good job at it."
On if Hooker ever talked about possibly being drafted by the Browns:
"No, we never really did. When you are with so many guys who are getting ready to be drafted, it is kind of tough to have those discussions because we all think we are going everywhere."
On Indianapolis defense's strengths:
"They have another strong front seven. When you can do that, when you have strong talented guys like Malik behind you, they have a lot of confidence. They are getting better each week. Obviously, they haven't experienced the wins the same with us, but you can definitely tell the progression they have made from their preseason onto their first two games. They are becoming a better defense as they go. We have to make sure we match their intensity and match their execution."
On if it is challenging to move on from the most recent game to the upcoming one:
"I learned a long time ago how to manage that. There are things you can hang yourself on. In our position as the quarterback, it is up to us to make sure we drive this team and we move on. If I'm not moving on myself, then how is the rest of the team supposed to move on, too? You watch the film and make the proper corrections, learn from the mistakes that we made in that last game, gain on the positives from the last game and try to be better this week."
DB Jabrill Peppers:
On the advantage of playing as a deeper S compared to other alignments:
"I will ask you a question: How many deep balls have we given up? We haven't really been tried deep so that is the gameplan right now. Until they change it, that is what the gameplan is."
On if he enjoys playing deep safety:
"I enjoy it. Whatever they ask me to do. Getting to do something you are led to do is often enjoyable."
On if playing as a deeper S opens up the middle of the field:
"With every defense, there is a window of openings. It is just up to the quarterback to find them. Other than that, no. We just have to do a great job of playing man-to-man and making tackles and getting pressure on the quarterback, making those easy throws not so easy and things like that."
On if by playing as a deeper S the team is potentially giving up too much on another area of the field:
"Not really. Everyone thinks about it differently, but the goal is to keep the ball in front and out of the end zone so we just have to do a better job of that."
On if he is tempted to come up and not play as deep:
"You have to be disciplined. At this level, you have to trust that everybody is going to do their job. We all trust each other and the job will get done. You just have to have great eyes. I think we had a lot of guys running free last week. Other than that, it is just eye discipline and sticking to the gameplan."
On if he has ever played as deep as he is playing now:
"I don't believe that deep, no, but there have been times where I have lined up a little deeper."
On confidence in LB James Burgess Jr. if he has to start for LB Jamie Collins Sr., who is currently in concussion protocol:
"There is tremendous confidence in everybody in all of the guys in the room. It is next man up. That is our motto. Everyone prepares as if they are going to be the starter and there is an expectation that we expect them to play at, just like the expectation we expect every one of us to play at. That is definitely not going to change."
LB Joe Schobert:
On preparing for a QB with not a lot of game film:
"You just look at the overall team, the concepts of it that they have been running in the preseason. They switched quarterbacks, but they are kind of running the same concepts so you look at their stuff from last year. They like to do some similar things with (Colts QB Jacoby) Brissett as (Colts QB Andrew) Luck in terms of arm strength, and he is able to run the ball. We are looking at a lot of that."
On Colts RB Frank Gore:
"He is a downhill runner. He gets behind his pads and he is not afraid to try to run you over. They run some outside runs, but as soon as he gets a vertical crease, he turns it up and tries to hit it hard downhill."
On the scouting report on Colts QB Jacoby Brissett:
"He is a big, mobile guy. He has a strong arm. He can make all the throws. We have to really lock in in terms of corralling him and not letting him get outside the pocket and extending plays and be able to throw the ball down the field."
On if the Browns defense has to adjust to Brissett's mobility:
"Everyone in terms of pass rush needs to know their lanes, keep him in the pocket and not let him get out of the pocket, and then when he does, obviously, everyone needs to run to the ball. He is a big guy. Everyone is going to have to hit him. He is not going to come down easily."
On potentially not having LB Jamie Collins Sr. on the field Sunday:
"Obviously, it is big if you don't have a guy like Jamie out on the field. (LB James) Burgess (Jr.), who has taken his spot, is a guy we all trust. He has played with us through the scheme since he has been here. He knows what he is doing, and I'm sure he will step up and play great on game day."
On what the Browns defense can do to limit underneath routes to opposing TEs:
"Just communication, getting everyone on the same page, practicing it throughout the week, putting an emphasis on it, communicating with everybody across the board, not just having communication within your position group and not really reaching out to the linebackers, the safeties to the corners - that sort of thing. Just communicating and everyone getting their eyes right."