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Exclusive sit-down interview with Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine

Our exclusive question-and-answer session Friday with Browns coach Mike Pettine went well beyond the three questions we provided in our sneak peek.

The rest can be found right here in a full transcript from the 25-minute session with the Cleveland head coach, who will open his second training camp Thursday at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility. How much is yours and general manager Ray Farmer's vision apparent in the current makeup of this roster?

Pettine: A big part. I don't know what the exact numbers are but if you take the roster from the day he became the General Manager, which was about less than a month after I became the head coach, the roster changes from then until now, it's significant. That's why I laugh when people say we're not on the same page. We share a vision for what we want this team to look like. Every move we've made -- we haven't batted 1,000 -- but we'd like to think that batting average is pretty high between last year's draft and this year's draft, especially. The 12 guys we brought in this year, we feel real good about coming out of the spring that every single one of them has shown us at some point that, 'hey, this is why we brought him here.' Some guys are going to show up better in pads than others. You're always looking forward to that. You play a lot of touch football in spring and sometimes you get a false sense of where you are. That's why we're looking forward to it being real football. I just feel the roster has changed. The biggest thing you can look at is we've improved our depth, especially this offseason. I don't look at the roster and say, 'wow, if we get dinged up there or have some issues there, we're pretty thin.' I'd like to feel we've really bolstered our depth and we're going to have to make some tough decisions come cut time. That's when you know you're building it right. Does that cohesion between you and Ray help formulate an on-field identity for this team?

Pettine: Absolutely. We haven't been very secretive about our identity. Let's build on toughness, mentally and physically. You have to in this division. The guys we've brought in we think embody that. A lot of the guys we've brought in, we talk about Play Like a Brown, that's line No. 1 of their evaluation. 'Hey, this guy plays like a Brown.' You've got tough guys that are smart that love football, you're really maximizing your chances to be successful. Which of the free agents have really made an impact on the field and within the walls of their postion group meetings?

Pettine: Tramon Williams has been tremendous for us and defensively we feel real good about where he is and what he's been able to bring to that room. His football ability, first and foremost, and then all that other stuff that comes with being a savvy veteran that's seen a lot and played in a lot of playoff games, played in some big games. I think he's the perfect complement to Joe (Haden). I think he'll be great for the young guys in that room and that's why we felt that was important to bring a guy with his experience, so Joe wasn't kind of the senior citizen in the wrong.

Offensively, you look to Josh McCown. Just the presence he's brought into that quarterback room, and not just the quarterback room, but how that's spread to the offense and how he's been able to interact with the coaching staff and relate with the rest of the guys in the room. I couldn't be more pleased with what he's brought to the table. We want to do everything we can to make him successful. It's important for us to put all of our quarterbacks in good situations. That's how you're successful is you minimize the amount of stress you put on that position. When you force them time and time again to convert a second-and-long, to convert a third-and-long, to bring you back from two scores down late, the odds are against you. The players are too good in this league. You have to put your quarterback in situations where you're asking them to play smart and protect the football. Let's not lose the game first before we put you in a situation where you have to go out and win it. Take the ball out of his hands to some extent and to get it to other guys that can make plays for us, whether it's running the football or shorter passing game. At the same time, still stress defenses down the field. He proved this spring he still has the arm strength to be able to throw it deep. Were you surprised at all with his on-field performance at OTAs and mini-camp? Does he really look like a 35-year-old quarterback?

Pettine: It's hard to believe he's that age because he doesn't act it and he certainly doesn't look it. He's very much young at heart, he's enthusiastic. For what he's gone through in some places, you could see where there might be some negativity there and there's not at all. His outlook is great. Especially when it's coming from a place of leadership, that's infectious. He likes it here and he's very confident in what we've built on the offensive side not just for him, but for the other quarterbacks as well. That's one of the reasons we're quietly optimistic about this offense. How much will it benefit the team to have clarity at quarterback when camp opens?

Pettine: There's no substitute for reps, reps together. You can put a group of really good players together but it will take some time before they start to know where he's going to be, 'I know what he likes to do and this is good here but not good here.' It takes some time to build that cohesion and chemistry. Last year, it would have been difficult. We felt Johnny (Manziel) was worthy of having that opportunity to compete and Brian (Hoyer) clearly won the job. Given the circumstances of this offseason and how everything played out, I didn't want to do that again. We felt we had a veteran guy that had proven he could be a starter in this league in Josh. Johnny's in a situation where he can learn from him and the circumstances play out where he needs to play or elevates his level of play, Johnny does, and can be out there, then so be it. For us, it's all about winning. There's no other agenda here. It's what 11 players we put on the field that gives us the best opportunity to be successful. You said during OTAs that we'd end up forgetting that Danny Shelton missed them in order to graduate. Has that proven to be true?

Pettine: Mentally, he's been on top of it from the beginning. He didn't miss any padded work. The defensive line, they're usually the group that ends up with the most individual time that coach (Anthony) Weaver has to kind of do some walk-through stuff with them so their workloads aren't too high during practice. I'm very confident he'll be ready to go for the opener. It was for good reason but it's unfortunate that that was the hand we were dealt but I don't think it will affect much, especially when we get to the end of camp. Is the competition along the offensive line something you want settled early in order for the first-team to develop chemistry together?

Pettine: I've been in situations where you can have six guys. As much as you want to put five out there and just have them play, if you have a guy that's a sixth, and I'm not sure who that sixth is, we feel we have six quality linemen and we're confident they'll all be able to play for us. Even beyond the six, whether it's a Michael Bowie or Andrew McDonald, guys that have really had good offseasons for us. Karim Barton, Vinston Painter, that's one of the areas from a depth standpoint we feel so much better about this year than a year ago. That's one I think we all look forward to seeing how it plays out. It's well-documented we'll give Joe Thomas days off, so when that happens it's a good opportunity to kind of jumble the lineup a little bit and give guys some work at different positions with a different combination. Even Alex (Mack) coming off his injury, we'll potentially give him some time off as well during camp. We feel it's the cornerstone of our offense and we're looking forward to looking at some different combinations. How much will it benefit the offense to have Alex Mack back at full capacity?

Pettine: When you see him, and (Joel) Bitonio and Joe Thomas next to each other, and that's not a slight on (John) Greco or Cam (Erving) or even Mitchell (Schwartz). To see those three guys, potential Pro Bowl type players out there, that's a heck of a starting point. The anchor of our offense, you feel like you're in great hands with those guys out there. How much has the depth been improved at wide receiver?

Pettine: It is. It really is. We had some guys last year that contributed for us in different ways that will be hard to keep off the field. We're bringing in Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, draft Vince Mayle and then look at (Andrew Hawkins) and (Taylor) Gabriel had a great spring for us. Hawk's coming off a career year. Then you have Travis (Benjamin), who everybody just kind of looked at and said 'hey, this guy's a returner coming off a knee, what is he?' Next thing you know he's making huge plays for us on offense and giving us that speed element that you need to be able to keep defenses honest. You look at some of the guys beyond that. Bringing in a Terrelle Pryor. I think everyone's very interested seeing how he's going to look adjusting to a new position. Josh Lenz is a guy that all he's done is get open and catch the ball. He's a guy that I think a lot of people looked at and said, 'wow, if he didn't get hurt in the spring, he might have had the best spring of any of those receivers.' It falls back to the depth thing. You start doing the math on who's going to make the 53 and who are the 10 guys that are maybe for practice squad and then you start to think about game day, you know you're building your roster right when a lot of those decisions are going to be very difficult ones. Pryor's signing has certainly generated excitement among fans. What intrigued you about him?

Pettine: He's just an explosive athlete and that's what the NFL's all about. I never wanted to feel like we had a system, that I was a system coach, that 'this position has to be this, or this height, this weight, this speed' and kind of get locked into give us all explosive athletes we can find and it's on us as coaches to be creative. He is going to go ahead and make that transition to wideout. I was around Brad Smith, who was a college quarterback and I see a lot of parallels there as a college quarterback, and he's still in the league, was very productive for us in New York and ended up going to Buffalo. I see some similarities there, explosive athlete that made the transition and was able to help out the team in a lot of different ways. How important will versatility of roles, chemistry be important when paring down the defensive line?

Pettine: It's very different from offensive line. We're always looking to kind of roll a defensive line. That's where the toughest decision will be for us is who makes it for us and who's up on game time and working those reps as far rolling guys through. We have tremendous depth in the secondary. We feel like we've bolstered the depth at outside linebacker. We feel like we have four quality -- and even then some beyond that -- four guys that played a lot of inside backer for us when you look at the depth Craig (Robertson), Christian (Kirksey) and Tank (Carder) give us alongside Karlos (Dansby). Again, all great problems to have. I see the D-line kind of playing out the same. There's no better motivator than competition. Guys are going to look around and say, 'wow, I'm going to have a hard time making this roster, I'm going to have a hard time earning playing time if I'm not bringing my A game every day.' What does a player have to do to stand out to you at training camp?

Pettine: Football's about making plays. It is. You want guys to be productive. Potential only gets you so far, height, weight. We're playing the game. We're not out there running races or lifting weights. We're playing football. Who's doing their job? Who can make plays but also who can make plays within the structure of the offense or defense, guys that aren't coming out of structure and going outlaw, as we call it, to try to stand out. We tell our guys, do your job and good things will happen. If they go out every day of a mindset of 'I'm going to fill my gradesheet with plusses,' there's that trust factor with coaches that 'hey, here's a guy that all he does is go out and does his job.' Those are the guys that, you have your superstars that are going to make plays for you, but that next tier of guys you want to be solid, dependable, trustworthy and go out and do their job every time. If everybody goes out and gets a plus, if we've structured the offense or defense right as coaches, we'll have a positive result. Does it help to have a standout moment or simply be consistent all of the time?

Pettine: It's a little bit of both. We want our guys to be consistent. We don't want guys that are making the splash play and unbelievable play and then turn around and fumble the ball or giving up a touchdown. It's about being consistent. We'd rather have the guy that's much more even keel with a spike now and again with a big play as opposed to all over the map, a guy that's going to make plays and maybe make a name for himself but at the same time put that side of the ball at risk too many times during games. So it's a fine line. Guys have to understand that consistency is a critical part of earning a lot of reps. Any off-the-radar players that have your attention heading into training camp?

Pettine: You look back at last year, you've got those five guys that made it. (E.J.) Bibbs is a guy we've been impressed with and the (Kevin) Haplea kid, both of them, we feel we have two quality guys that have a chance. Has Duke Johnson shown he can do even more than you initially expected?

Pettine: He's got a long way to go but he has shown us that he's more than capable. The mismatch ability is kind of the element that we were missing, that we can split a back out or get a back out in space. Those guys had solid years last year, but that's one thing from a defensive standpoint when you start going down the checklist of, 'who are we defending this week,' all those questions you ask, 'is the quarterback a runner,' one of the questions that come up is 'can the running back mismatch our linebackers in coverage?' When that happens, that drives your game plan a certain way, that you have to make sure that 'hey, we can't put our inside backer one-on-one in coverage against this guy,' or, 'if they spread him out, they go empty backfield and they put him out as a wide receiver, who's covering him?' He's already shown the ability to take a short pass and turn it into a long gain. He's also shown the ability to line up in the backfield and be a true running back, as he showed in college. To come out of The U and be the leading rusher, that says something with the parade of backs that have gone through there. Have Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell embraced the possibility of catching more passes out of the backfield?

Pettine: They have. And I never thought they were poor in the pass game. I just think the circumstances worked out that they were rookies and had some issues with protection and weren't getting out quick enough because they were cautious. I think they'll be more confident in what they're doing this year in Year 2. When Crow catches the ball, it doesn't look natural but he doesn't drop a lot of footballs. It just looks funny. And I've always thought Terrance has really good hands, so we feel really good about it. The other two guys in that room, Glenn Winston and Shaun Draughn, are both guys that can catch the ball and run it as well. That's another competition that we're looking forward to and we know we'll have to make some tough decisions. Do the kickers come into training camp with a clean sheet, or did their performance at OTAs affect their standing?

Pettine: It's part of it. The nice thing about now is they'll be in more pressurized situations. That's what being a kicker is all about. They've been at the driving range all spring and now they're getting ready to walk out in front of a gallery and in front of their teammates and have to make pressure kicks. That's what the NFL is all about is making pressure kicks, being accurate. We'll see and we'll work with those guys and try to simulate as much pressure situations in practice. When we go down to Columbus, we'll have a kicking competition at halftime in front of a big crowd. I know (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) is going to take them down to the stadium some and get them some work down there. How much can the large crowd at the Orange and Brown scrimmage help you in your evaluation of the players?

Pettine: I think it's just a credit to Browns fans across the state. Columbus is a great football town. It didn't surprise any of us that tickets went that quickly. It will be good. We've got a bunch of Ohio State guys on the team and it will be a good homecoming for some. It will be a great environment. We can only do so much to create that pressure type atmosphere out here. To be able to put them in front of 60,000 ... you find out very quickly some guys will rise to that occasion and other guys shrink away from it. The more we can have those opportunities, I'll just look at it as 'hey, we're giving ourselves an advantage of a very controlled but essentially a fifth preseason game.'

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