Press Conference

Freddie Kitchens talks Baker Mayfield's improvement, player status updates ahead of Sunday's game vs. Miami

Opening statement:

“We look forward to being home for the third week in a row. We always look forward to playing in front of our home fans. They bring a great atmosphere to the game and to the stadium. Hopefully, we can do our part this week in preparing and getting ready to play a Dolphins team that although their record is not what they want it to be, they have been playing good football the last three weeks. They have won two out of the last three games. They have done a good job of protecting the football and eliminating penalties, which put them in positions to win games the last couple of weeks. They have done that and capitalized on that.”

On keeping the Browns focused on the task at hand this week, given the team is missing several players:

“It is what we try to do every week. We try to focus on what we can control. The only thing we can control is today. Today, we control how we prepare to go on the football field, on to the practice field and how we practice, have attention to detail and learn more about ourselves than anything outside of this building at this present time and stay focused on today.”

On TE David Njoku’s status:

“He is getting more healthy so from that standpoint, that is all I know. I do not know what kind of condition he is in. I do not know where he is at mentally. Sometimes you just have to put them out there and see how they do.”

*On if Njoku will have any contact restrictions at practice: *“He is ready to go full contact.”

On how much can Njoku help the Browns if able to play Sunday:

“We have not made a decision on that. We have not even see what he can do today so we will get him out there and see. If he can play two plays, that is not going to help us at all. We will see.”

On QB Baker Mayfield’s improvements the past three games and differences in his recent performances:

“I think he has been playing better, but I also think it has a lot to do with the people around him that have been playing better. I think the receivers have done a much better job of controlling what they can control, and that is how they do their job, in which quarterbacks find great comfort in that. Just like when a quarterback is not doing as well as he should be, sometimes it has more to do or just as much to do with the people around him, and when a quarterback does well, it means the people around him are doing their job, better and a higher rate, also. I think that is the main thing that has happened.”

On if he seen improvement in how Mayfield has handled the pass rush and buying time in the pocket:

“I think it has been a conscious effort, a continued effort to stay in the pocket. That is where you are the most safe is in the pocket. That is where the field is still – both sides of the field, horizontally and vertically – available to you. That is always a constant. You do not want to take away the fact that he is athletic, he can get outside the pocket and make plays, but you also have to understand that more plays are to be made from inside the pocket.”

On if he uses playoff possibilities as motivation to the team this week:

“No, I am using the fact that we want to be the best that we can be today and then go out and put our best foot forward and let the scoreboard take care of itself on Sunday.”

On if anyone from the Browns organization accompanied DE Myles Garrett to New York for the appeal hearing:

“I am sure if that was able to happen, it happened.”

On if he knows whether someone from the Browns accompanied Garrett:

“I do not know for a fact – I do, I just do not know if I am going to say. I do not know if I can say. Can I say? I do not know.”

On if there is any sense of optimism within the Browns that Garrett’s suspension could be reduced:

“Here in this building today, we are worried about Miami. We can’t control [the appeal decision]. We could not control initially all the sentencing and stuff like that. We are just going to control what we control. We have nothing to do with that. Myles has great representation, but more importantly, Myles will represent himself well. We are going to continue to support him and (DT) Larry (Ogunjobi), and we will not waver with that support.”

On what he hopes the team learned from the experience Thursday against the Steelers:

“We talk all the time about being the smartest, toughest football team. Sometimes one of those things does not happen and you decrease your chances of winning and you decrease your chances of being successful. We want to add both of those to the mix, not one without the other. You have to be both. It is a continual conversation topic and will always be discussed.”

On RB Nick Chubb being the Browns’ nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award:

“Nick goes about his business every day. He takes great pride in how he performs, how he prepares, how he practices and he exemplifies everything you want in a football player. We have other guys that exemplify those same things, but Nick does it on an everyday basis.”

On how the Browns can replace Garrett’s on-field production:

“I think it goes back to football being a game of 11 people on the field. Everybody has to do their job and everybody has to do their job efficiently to put ourselves in the best position to be successful on each play. Whether that be covering a little, rushing a little better, just everybody has to be on top of their game a little bit more. That is the reason football is the ultimate team game. It is not just one individual. It is the ultimate team game, and we have to exemplify that.”

On confidence Browns players can step up in the absence of Garrett, one of the best defensive players in the league:

“You are never going to replace a Myles Garrett with one individual – that is what makes him so special – but do we feel like we have guys here that can do the job? Yes, we do, and I think those guys feel confident in that, too.”

On if the Browns offense is on the cusp of making a significant jump in terms of improvement and efficiency:

“Yeah, I would agree with that sentiment. We have a long way to go, but I would also state that the main job of the offense is to do enough to win the football game. We are not looking for style points and not looking at stats. I am looking to do enough to win the football game. In saying that, I think we did a good job last week.”

On completing three consecutive games without a turnover and Mayfield’s role in it:
“Hey, listen, the game of football has not changed in 150 years. If you protect the football, you are going to have a chance to win. Of course, that is a big key in it and that is our goal every week. Of course, when you turn the ball over, you give them an opportunity to score and you do not have that opportunity any longer for that drive. It comes down to basic math. If you keep the ball longer, you have a better chance to score. You score more points, you win.”

On if Mayfield is doing anything specific to limit turnovers, including his eye placement:
“I think that is part of it, and part of it is receivers being where they are supposed to be, protection being what it is supposed to be, running backs picking up their protection and running backs carrying the ball properly. You always have a choice when you have the ball in your hands to do the things necessary to protect that football. If you do those, usually you protect the football. The game usually in this league comes down to plus in takeaways/giveaways, and we want to remain on the plus side of that. Also, a lot can be said of our defense getting the turnovers because that makes us plus in takeaway/giveaway. Anytime you are plus, it give you a chance to win the game.”

On S Juston Burris’ and S Sheldrick Redwine’s performance stepping into bigger roles defensively in recent weeks:

“I have been impressed with Red, the way he has come on during the course of the year and continued to get better and it started on special teams where he started to get more consistent in how he approaches his week. Sometimes these young guys have to get used to the week as far as what you do on Wednesday, what does Wednesday football look like, what does Thursday football look like, what does Friday football look like and then just progress during the course of the week to enable themselves to have a better chance to succeed on Sundays. He has done a good job of developing his routine during the course of the week mentally and physically to be ready to play on Sunday. Juston came into a tough situation earlier in the year. He was here less than 48 hours for us, played in a game for us and played well. It says a lot about his football character from the standpoint of being able to focus and concentrate. We like to use the word of ‘hyper-focus.’ Do you know what that means? What does it mean? [Response of better focus than normal, sharper focus].Intense, intense focus and concentration.

On a hyper-extended knee not referring to an ‘intense’ knee, in response to his definition of hyper-focus:

“In one way or another it is – it may be the wrong way (laughter). It is intense focus and concentration, and Juston has demonstrated he has the ability to do that, and we are not asking him to do it over the long haul. We are just asking them to do that today, and that is what they have done a good job of. Do it today and then wake up tomorrow and do it again tomorrow. That will always be the stress, and the thing we want to carry over on a day-to-day basis is our focus and concentration on just getting better that day.”

On if DE Olivier Vernon will return to practice today:

“We will not today. It is still kind of day to day.”

*On if the Browns are hopeful Vernon may return to practice this week: *“Yes, I am always holding hope that he can practice. I like Olivier.”

On how Mayfield handled the situation when responding to questions about the altercation that took place against the Steelers, just moments after it occurred:
“I think there are a lot of emotions in football, and then when you walk off the football field, those emotions do not just stop. I really do not have anything to say about it. Sometimes you just say what you feel at the moment. I was the same way. You get asked questions and you want to answer questions. You want to be truthful with people, and I think he did a good job of that.”

On is he is surprised by the way Chubb handles success during a game and essentially never celebrates after long runs:

“No, I am not surprised by it. I think Nick really does a good job of maintaining his composure in whatever situation it is, maintaining his emotion and he has an internal desire to be good. He recognizes that it is just one play, it is kind of just how you perform on that one play and just the magnitude of that play is a small part of the game. No, I am not surprised he keeps his emotions in check because I think he feels that is the way he performs the best, and I think he is always going to do what he thinks is best to perform his best.”

On if he wishes more players would be like Chubb:
“I have got Nick Chubb. That is good with me.”

On if Chubb’s attitude towards football and his demeanor rubs off on his teammates:
“I think that whole room, that whole position group does a good job of affecting each other in a positive manner, and I think Nick Chubb is part of that.”

On if the Browns coaches have talked more about the altercation from last week and how both teams have responded to it as it relates to next week’s game against the Steelers and wanting to ultimately beat the Steelers in two weeks:

“Oh, no, we are getting ready to play Miami. We are trying to go 1-0 this week. That is all we are trying to do. We can’t do anything about last week and can’t do anything about two weeks from now. We are just trying to go 1-0 this week.”

More on Chubb’s attitude and not celebrating following big plays:

“To answer your question a little further though, I want these guys to be – I think you are trying to get at if I care if they celebrate and all of that when they do something good – I want them to be themselves. I just do not want them to hurt the team ever on or off the field.”

On if the integration of RB Kareem Hunt into the offense has been as seamless as the team could have hoped at this point of the season:
“Yeah, I think so. I think anytime you can put a good football player on the field, it is kind of easy. It makes you look good at times as a play caller and as a coach. (Run game coordinator/running backs coach) Stump (Mitchell) became a lot better coach when he started coaching Kareem and Nick, and he was a pretty good coach before he started coaching Kareem. Anytime you can get good players on the field at the same time and it increase their production in both areas, it is a good thing.”

On if DE Bryan Cox can be a resource on the Brown D line, given Cox recently joined the team and the missing players at the position:

“I think he is a smart guy that is going to kind of immerse himself into our system here. He started that last week, and I think it will continue to happen.”

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