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Freddie Kitchens' message to players vs. Steelers: 'Do your job … all of that other stuff is just fluff'

Browns players couldn't avoid questions about their next game within an hour of finishing off the Dolphins on Sunday.

Twenty-four hours later, the rematch between the Browns and Steelers took center stage. It's a big one for both teams whose playoff aspirations are alive and well after they respectively collected wins Sunday.

And, well, the memories are fresh from how their recent game ended considering it occurred less than two weeks ago.

"I know that it is going to be a lot of trash talking out there and a lot of guys are going to try and get into your head and do things to try and get you out of character," Browns cornerback Denzel Ward said. "You just have to think about the betterment of the team and just go out there and win the game but do not do any stupid penalties or anything toward the other team that could hurt this team."

Ward was right in line with his coach, who was quick to downplay all of the non-football related storylines that will surely surface during the build-up to the game.

"I want them to go in with one thing and one thing only on their minds, and that is to do their job, and anything that overshadows that in any way is not acceptable and it is not the best for the team," Freddie Kitchens said on a Monday conference call. "I want guys to show up ready to do their job. All of that other stuff is just fluff. It is just fluff to give people things to talk about leading up to Sunday. 

"At some point on Sunday around 1 p.m., we are going to kick the ball off and that is when it is going to be for real then at that point, and that is when I want them to be at their best."

The Browns, winners of three straight, have certainly embraced the "1-0 mindset" Kitchens has introduced since the team fell to 2-6 after a loss in Denver. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has repeatedly stressed a "singular focus" that is necessary for a team that still has plenty of work to do if it hopes to play into the postseason.

All of that and more will be necessary going into Pittsburgh, and Kitchens is confident the group can weather all of the external noise.

"I do not think there would be any difference in intensity," Kitchens said. "I think our guys are pretty intense every time we line up to play on Sundays. I think we try to be the most physical football team. We try to be the smartest football team. That is what our goal is going to be again this week. It does not matter who we play. We want to be the smartest, toughest football team on the field."

-- Kitchens said he considers DE Olivier Vernon, who has missed the past three games with a knee injury, to be day to day.

The Browns coach said he hadn't made a decision about TE David Njoku, who was designated to return from injured reserve last week but has not yet been activated to the 53-man roster. Cleveland now has a two-week window to make a decision.

"We will just have to see," Kitchens said. "It is a day-to-day kind of thing. I think our tight ends have been doing a pretty good job."

-- One of the disappointments Kitchens took away from Sunday's performance was Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's 45 rushing yards. He accounted for nearly half of the Dolphins' 92 rushing yards and found the end zone on a third-and-goal scramble during the third quarter.

"It is good that we stop the run but bad that we let the quarterback get out," Kitchens said. "That is directly related to our rush lanes and having to stay in our rush lanes."