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Press Conference

Chris Kiffin: "Iron sharpens iron"

On when DE Myles Garrett will be joining practice and what he has been focusing on while sitting out of practices:

"He is just a couple days away so he is going to be out there with us really soon. The main thing for him right now is we did not have an offseason for all of these guys. It was all virtual as far as learning the new system, learning the new scheme and learning how we are going to play up front. For him, it has been all mental here, so to say, with all these walkthroughs, meetings and doing what he can do. That is what he has been focusing on right now. Once we get him in back to full speed out there, then we can put it into action and go from there." 

On how DE Olivier Vernon has stepped up in Garrett's absence:

"OV has been great. I have really enjoyed working with him. All offseason, he had 100 percent attendance. He didn't miss a day. Right from the get-go, I was able to really start developing a relationship, even though it was virtual, but being able to earn his trust as a coach. Now that we are at work, it is time to put that together. He has had a couple seasons of not being 100 percent healthy and I know that is his main focus and he is feeling really good right now. Going out through these first couple days, he is giving us the effort we are looking for from the whole group. Like you said, he has had some good competition with our young rookie tackle (Jedrick Wills Jr.), and he has been a leader for our group so far. Super excited about him. Going to continue to push him to be his best, just like I do everybody, but he has been great so far." 

On if the personnel he had with the 49ers changed his coaching style at all:

"Yeah, for sure. When you are game planning, when it really dives into game planning and scheming things up as far as third down rushes and putting your guys in the best position to have success, for sure, you are always making it to the individual – putting (49ers DL) Dee Ford and (49ers DL) Nick Bosa on the same side, allowing them to do the things they do. It would be no different here when we get to that time where we can move guys around. We have a bunch of guys in there that have done it and added  (DE) Adrian Clayborn to the group so we have some different combinations where we can move guys around put them in their best position to have success but not only on third down. What do we look like on first down? What do we look like when we have a lead? What do we look like in a short-yardage situation? You are always trying to personnel those things and get your best guys on the field to make sure you have the best chance to have success."

On his first impressions of DT Larry Ogunjobi:

"Actually, he was one of the few guys I got a chance to meet before the building went on lockdown in the spring. From the day I met him, I could just tell how hungry he is, how eager he is and that he wants to be great. He is chasing greatness. He understands it is a process in this league, but he is hungry. He sees all those other guys getting all the accolades as far as top defense tackles in the league, and he wants to put himself up there. He works his tail off to do that. We had virtual videos in the spring to be able to see these guys check on them and working out and stuff. He was getting it in, and obviously, you see his body. You can tell he is a guy that works his tail off in the weight room and as far as running and that. Now, it is time to put it together and start film study and understanding his strengths and weaknesses as a player. We have to maximize his potential this year, for sure, and I know he wants to do that." 

On DT Jordan Elliott and what Elliott can accomplish in his rookie season:

"He is big, athletic defensive tackle. He can move. He has great short-area quickness. Those are the things you look for in the draft, and our guys did a phenomenal job of identifying him as a guy that would fit in our system and also as a guy that that is hungry to be great, just like I was talking about Larry. I am not just saying this, I have been more than pleased with Jordan from the time we drafted him until now. We had those rookies for extra days starting training camp, and he just works his tail off. I said, 'Look we got a lot of time to get these reps in,' and he said, 'We can't waste any time right now.' He is always trying to get it in. He is asking the right questions. He is a guy that we are very excited about, and he is talented enough to get in there and play right away so he is definitely part of the plan."

On the Browns defense giving up an five yards per carry last season and how the DL can help improve that:

"There are so many things that go into that, but for us, just speaking about us and this year and what we are going to do, we are going to play an attack-style front. We are going to reset the line of scrimmage. We are going to create some negative plays in the run game. As we say, we are going to earn the right to rush the passer. Hopefully, we are playing with some big leads so now it is a different kind of run game we are facing in the second half. Like (defensive coordinator) Coach (Joe) Woods has told you, we are going to play an eight-man front, everybody is going to do their job, we are going to be gap responsible across the board and we are going to strive for perfection in the run game. As you know, run fits are crucial. It fits like a glove out there, and we have some in this conference and obviously on our schedule that can run the football well. In this league when you do that, it is what it all starts with to have success so we have to stop that. We know that. We are going to definitely do our best." 

On the impact DT Andrew Billings opting out of the season has on the interior defensive line rotation:

"We brought Andrew in here to add quality depth and be in the two-deep right from the get-go so we lost somebody that we thought was going to be in our two-deep. That definitely leaves a hole, but that obviously adds opportunity for some other guys. Right now, and I told these guys this morning, (DTs) Eli Ankou and Daniel Ekuale, that the competition is open. You have to go get this thing. Iron sharpens iron, and this is going to be a heated competition. I told those guys. We just used a third-round pick on Jordan. We are looking for that fourth defensive tackle that is going to come in, play with his hair on fire and create plays. Rent is due every single practice. This is training camp. We are in this thing and competition is open. Yeah, it left a hole, but it is also an opportunity for other guys. Both of those guys have shown some good things right now so we will continue to see what they do as we progress here through camp." 

On Ogunjobi's potential:

"He can be very good. He has all the intangibles. He has the tools, the athletic ability, the skillset and the strength. I don't see why not. Obviously, it is a process in this league. There are very few that come in and do it right away, but these guys can work and they can work their craft and get better and better and play 8, 10, 12 years. Those are the guys that continue to get better every single year, and I don't see any reason why Larry would not do that as far as getting better every year, improving all the time. He has everything you want as far as defensive tackle goes. We also have to help him rush the passer on third down, teach him some moves and make him a three-down player that can dominate – not just be good, that can dominate in this league. I will say it for the 100th time, it will be a process. He knows that, and I know that. Excited to get to work together on it." 

On if he and Ogunjobi have talked about the importance of this season for him, specifically as it relates to it being his contract year:

"I do not really talk about contracts to these guys usually when someone is in a contract year and whatnot, but that is not my job to talk about that. My job is to work with them and to help them improve to be the best football player they can be, regardless of what year they are in. If that is on his mind, then that is up to him. I am going to be him be the best he can be this year." 

On the competitions for the fourth DT spot and DE spots:

"Like I said, both Daniel and Eli have shown great things so far. Jordan (Elliott) still has a ways to go, I gave him good praise, but he still has a ways to go. We are going to have some battles in there. At defensive end right now, we have (DEs) Porter (Gustin), Chad (Thomas) and Rob (Robert McCray) behind those other guys, and same thing. I told those guys the exact same thing this morning. It is a wide-open competition. We are going to rotate those reps, who is running with the No. 1s while Myles (Garrett) is down. When Myles is back, we are going to rotate who is playing with the No. 2s. I want to see guys work with different people and with different groups out there. Now is the time to show out. Rent is due every single day. Chad knows that, Porter knows that and Rob knows that. We will put all three of those guys out there, open competition and see what we have." 

On his core philosophies on the DL and how that ties into Woods' defensive system:

"A lot of it is the same stuff we talk about on defense. We want to play fast. We want to play physical and play together. Those are the three things we are talking about on defense right now because that covers a lot of things. You play fast on Sundays and you play physical, like you said resetting the line of scrimmage, but most importantly, if you can play together, get four guys that are out there at one time but eight or nine guys that are up on gameday, we get all these guys playing together, then the sky is the limit. That is when you really gel is when you come together as a group. Philosophy wise, there is a bunch of different ways to do it. At the end of the day, we want great football players – guys that have awareness, guys that have relentless motors, that can chase the ball and that just want to compete like crazy. There is no spot in the league for guys that do not want to do that. It weeds them out very quickly. We just want really good football players that are ultimately team players and then you have to have the skill set and talent, as well." 

On how important the performance of the DE on the opposite side of Garrett is for Garrett to be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, given the tandem he worked with in San Francisco:

"I believe as a defensive lineman, obviously, you need a great group. Guys can have individual success, but the better the group is and it is so much more than that – how good is your coverage, getting them into third-and-long and all those things. Keeping those guys separate, (49ers DE) Nick (Bosa) is a phenomenal player. He should be in that discussion every year, and Myles is no different. He needs to be in that discussion every year. With OV clicking on all cylinders and Myles rushing opposite of him, I do not see any reason those guys can't have great success together and then the accolades will come. We also need two guys rushing inside. We have to figure out our third-down group, but the sky is the limit for Myles and then obliviously OV can help that."

Tight ends coach Drew Petzing:
On his impressions of TE David Njoku:
"He has been great on my end. He came in ready to work and came in in phenomenal shape. He is asking questions and fully immersed in the playbook. He has done everything I asked since the moment I met him virtually in April. So, it has been a lot of fun to work with."

On how Njoku can be more consistent and become a trusted target for QB Baker Mayfield:
"I think the big thing you see with guys like that is sometimes that may not be the issue. It could be they have a lot of other things on their mind from learning the playbook, from worrying about defensive looks. A lot of my focus is on making sure that he feels really confident in what we are asking him to do and what type of looks he is going to get from the defense. I think some of that understanding and that that quick thinking can lead to better production in other areas, as well. I think that has been a big focus, and I know it is something he has worked on in terms of technique, drills and spending time before and after practice. I think it is only going to improve."

On if Njoku has used the JUGS machine more this year:
"I don't know if that changed. It is funny you say that. One of the things I told these guys in the offseason is I love the JUGS machine because you're you are focused on catching. That is what you are working on. The only issue I have with the JUGS machine is that you know exactly where the ball is going to go and at no point during NFL game do you know where that ball is going to be placed. One of the things I told him is I would rather see them catch balls from someone who, like myself, or really anyone, even if their arm is not great because it forces them to pick up the ball in different spots every throw. I think he has done that. I know that they always get some extra work before and after practice or during some special teams periods. I think he has definitely committed himself to working out and I have definitely seen that in my short time here."

On clarifying he prefers players work with a teammate or coach to work on catching, rather than a JUGS machine:
"I always prefer that if it is an option. Now, hey, if the jugs machine is where you are and that is what you would like to do and that is your process, but I like to challenge those guys, 'Hey, let's just try something different.' Even if it is a receiver or another tight end throwing to you, just keep changing that up so that you can't predict where that ball is going to hit.

On what makes TE Austin Hooper so productive:
"One of the biggest things and one of the reasons we are really excited in this system is the versatility. All of the different things you saw him doing Atlanta from playing on the move, playing in line, stretching the field, and being great in the keeper game and in the wide zone run game. I think all of that versatility really allows a player, a team and an offense to be explosive. That is something that strikes you right away when you turn on one game and he is doing what looks like eight different jobs in a matter of 15 plays. Just being able to do that at such a high level over an extended period of time makes him a pretty unique player."

On the competition for the third and fourth TE spots on the roster:
"There is no doubt. You said it, one of the things that has been really exciting for me and really been a lot of fun, even in the short amount of time we have been in camp so far is in my opinion, we do have five guys that belong on an NFL field on Sunday. That is a really unique experience in a tight end room to have. It has been fun to watch. They all have different strengths and things that they do well, and just seeing them go out there and compete every day, generally speaking, competition makes us all better. It makes us reach our full potential because we know other guys are trying to do the same. It has been a lot of fun and even early on, you are starting to see that. I think that is only going to progress here as we start to practice."

On how the depth at TE can help a QB and what problems it can cause for a defense:
"How it helps the quarterback, I think that that is probably yet to be seen. There are pluses and minuses to that depending on scheme. In terms of affecting a defense, just knowing that we can roll out and run so many different personnel groups and so many different looks. W can get into a three tight end set and spread it out. We can get into a two tight end set and tighten it down. There is a lot of offense to cover, and it allows us to do it without being very confusing to our own players, if that makes sense. The more looks that we can give another group without confusing ourselves, it creates an advantage with very little effort on our part. I think that is going to be a big part of the multiple tight ends sets and who we want to be as a team and as an offense."

On reaching out to other coaches to get a better understanding of coaching the TE position:
"Yeah, you are right. Anytime you move to a new position or a new room or new title, it is always good to pick guys' brains who have done it. I think one of the best resources for me is (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski), who coached tight ends. Being able to lean on him and ask him questions about, 'Hey, this is what I was thinking. How have you done this?' The other guy in the building that I have really relied heavily on is (offensive line coach) Bill Callahan. He has been around the game in so many different aspects, including a head coach at the highest level. That is a key component for me as a young coach is trying to figure out exactly what you want your philosophy to be and how you want to present that to the players because at the end of the day, we are teaching. Whatever I want them to consume and then physically carry out, I need to be able to communicate effectively. I think that has been really important for me. I think the big thing is a lot of it comes down to effort and focus. You have to want to do something a certain way or you are never going to carry it out the way that maybe we want it as an offense. That has kind of been one of the things I have really tried to instill in the room, and hopefully, if they can take that to the field, we have a chance to succeed in all those multiple personnel groups that we just talked about."

On what a normal game week will look like for him:
"I think every week is a little bit of a mix, but there is a constant focus on fundamentals and technique. No matter who we are playing, you have to run routes, you have to get out of your breaks, you have to be able to block one on one, you have to be able to work zone combinations. There is always a focus on that throughout the week. I think it is important that we don't lose that. There is the variation in the playbook. There is the variation in maybe exactly what routes or exactly what run blocking combinations you spend your time on. There is some teaching of defensive football, as well. What looks are we expecting? How does that change how we are going to block or run certain routes? Then the combination of that being coupled with understanding of situational awareness of just different situations that could come up throughout a game, how that changes and what our philosophy needs to be not only as an offense but individually as a player. I think you kind of balance those three things throughout the week. You are going to focus on technique and fundamentals early, get in the scheme in the middle and then really focus on the situational once those other two places are taken care of as you approach the game."

On if he has seen players who significantly improved their ability to catch the football or if he finds that it is hard to make a huge leap, specifically in reference to Njoku:
"That is an interesting question. I would have to go back through my mind. Again, I have not been around a ton of guys in terms of receiving ability. Now, I wish I could remember the player – I want to say it was on NFL Network – they had a guy who basically went into a training camp and was dropping every pass or just was struggling to catch. It kind of went back to what I hit on and it is kind of where I got the idea of it was someone said, 'You have caught a football your whole life and you know how to do it so let's take the focus off of that and worry about some other things so that maybe you are not thinking about it.' I don't know if you have played golf, but whenever you try not to hit the ball in the water, where does that ball go every time? It goes right in the water. I think the same thing can be said in terms of on field ability. If you are constantly thinking about 'I have to improve my hands, I dropped too many passes,' well, then you have almost already put that thought in your mind and you are only going to make that worse. I think that is kind of an area where guys have been able to improve is saying, 'Hey, I have seen him make some of the most impressive catches anyone's ever made. Right? So it is there.' I think the real focus for him is to focus on the other details of your game, and that is going to take care of itself because it is something you have done well in the past and that you know how to do."

On he has seen Njoku's enthusiasm change over the past month after rescinding his trade request:
"I know [the trade request and rescinding it] was probably said and dealt with, and obviously, that that went above my level. For me, he has been great on the field in terms of interacting with the other tight ends, interacting with me on a daily basis in terms of asking questions, saying 'Hey, how did you think this route was? What are we going to do on this combination?' The other thing I think that has been fun to see and you don't get this virtually is that players have been able to engage each other a little bit and kind of develop some friendships, and he has a lot of guys in this building that he knows really well that he has really good friendships with. It has been fun for me to be around these guys and start to meet these guys. I have seen nothing but really impressive engagement. I think he is a guy that a lot of guys on this team respect and really enjoy being around, and you can tell why. He has a great personality, and from my experience, that is really all I have seen."

On his response to Njoku confronting LB Mack Wilson after a hard tackle on RB Nick Chubb:
"I told him this in the meeting, as long as we are doing it within the realm of the rules, we have to support our teammates, and he felt like he had to stand up for his teammate and he can do that. I have no problem with that, and I don't think Coach Stefanski does either. If anything, that is a positive, right? He cares enough about the people he is in the room with to do those type of things. I think that has shown through on the field, and I think his teammates really understand that and I think we do as a staff."

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