Press Conference

Freddie Kitchens talks Cincinnati preparation, player status updates - press conference

Opening statement:

"It is good to be back home this week in the division. Cincinnati is coming off a big win. Their confidence is at an all-time high. Offensively, they have (Bengals QB) Andy (Dalton) back in. He has been in a lot of big game throughout his career and has been very successful. We expect nothing else from him. (Bengals RB) Joe Mixon is one of the more dynamic backs in the National Football League and can take it the distance any time he touches the ball. Receivers, (Bengals WR Tyler) Boyd has been targeted a lot and has been very productive for them. They are getting (Bengals WR John) Ross (III) back this week, and we have to prepare for his speed and his ability to make plays. Defensively, (Bengals DE) Carlos Dunlap and (DT) Geno (Atkins) has been there for a long time. He has been very productive. Carlos is coming off of three sacks in this past game and was just named AFC Defensive Player of the Week so we expect nothing but their best. They have done a very good job down in the red zone. I think they are ranked third in the league in the red zone so we have to do a good job with our preparation and making plays once we are down there."

On DE Olivier Vernon's status and how Vernon finished last week's game returning from a knee injury:

"Good. He ended up with 12. Little sore, but we will continue to see what he can do during the course of the week and continue moving forward with it."

On if Vernon will be able to practice this week:

"Yes, he should be."

On C JC Tretter's status, given it appeared he may have sustained an injury last week:

"JC got banged up a little bit. It was a physical football game, and we are dealing with some bumps and bruises. Injury wise, we should get (S) Eric (Murray) back today on the practice field and see where he is. Just continuing to increase his role from the standpoint of seeing him move along a little bit further with his injury. (T) Greg (Robinson) cleared the concussion protocol this morning so he will be back so that will be a big get. We need to continue to focus on our preparation with those two guys and see where we are at the end of the week."

On how close TE David Njoku is to being game ready:

"I think David is getting close. He practiced a little bit more last week, and he is getting closer."

On TE Stephen Carlson's performance:
"Stephen is a good, dependable, you know where he is going to be, you know he is going to make the plays that are there to be made and he is reliable. I am really, really happy with what he had given us offensively and from a special teams standpoint. Sometimes you need guys just to go in and do their job on special teams, as well, and he has done a good job in all areas. I am very happy with what Stephen has brought to us."

On what WR Odell Beckham Jr. is like behind the scenes:
"When Odell first came – I think I told you guys that I do not judge anybody off of what anybody else does and I like to see it for myself – Odell has done everything we have asked him to do. He has been no problem at all. Different situations are different for different people. and Odell has been a good teammate. He has been good."

On what Njoku needs to show to prove he is ready to return to games, particularly as a first-round draft pick:

"I do not get into where they were drafted when they start playing. David took what 9-10 weeks. We just want to make sure he is ready to go. That is all because there is no half-stepping it. Once you are at the game from that spot, he has to play. You are limited on how many guys you can have at the game so you need to make sure that he can do all of the things he needs to do not just in one area but in all areas, especially in that position."

On the difficulty releasing DE Chris Smith, given what Smith has experienced this season:

"Chris, that happened after the first game, the first home game. Chris has a lot of people that he is close with within the organization. Chris is a good person. I still remember the morning that it all happened. I was at his house, and we talked and some of those conversations that you have with a person builds your identity as a relationship. It is very difficult anytime you release a player that is the type of person that Chris is. He is certainly a good person. Our football relationship ended, but that does not mean our personal relationship from my standpoint, his teammates and this organization. We will always be there to support Chris."

On if there was consideration of keeping Smith on the roster with just four week remaining:
"It is difficult to do things like that because it is always difficult to cut someone, and in this instance, it was even more difficult, yes."

On if it was easier to keep Smith on the roster when DE Myles Garrett playing due to it not being as much of a position of need:

"When Myles is on the field, it is always easier to keep people because you know Myles is going to play 90 percent of the snaps."

On if QB Baker Mayfield will be limited at practice due to his hand:
"No, he should not be."

On if S Damarious Randall is expected to practice:

"I trust Damarious is going to go out, prepare and play and everything is the same. I have no problems with Damarious."

On if any teammates may have an issue with Randall:

"I would assume that everybody has… No, I would not assume that [anyone has an issue].."

On targeting Beckham on two deep balls at the end the first half as finding opportunities to get him more involved despite double coverage:

"It is one of those things where you just try to take a shot. There are several things that can happen when you throw the ball with that lack of time that you had on the clock and you have to eat up 45-50 yards and not have any timeouts left at that time. You can draw a penalty or he could catch the ball. Several things could happen with not much downside to it."

On Beckham's targets in the red zone this season and if there are missed opportunities on tape:

"We try to get our players the ball when we can. There are a lot of things that dictate that, but of course, we want more targets for Odell in the red zone. We want more targets, successful targets with all of our guys."

On Mayfield's fumble at Pittsburgh and if his hand injury impacted the play:
"I do not know the physical part of the hand and all of that kind of stuff. Baker understands when we are outside of the pocket, we are more vulnerable to things like that happening and we need to protect the ball. It is just simple as that. He knows that, we have moved on and that is it."

On his comment about needing to match the opponent's intensity last week and if there could potentially be changes to the Browns OL:

"We are going to make decisions this week based on the best position we put ourselves in to beat Cincinnati. We are focused on Cincinnati. We can't do anything about last week so we are always just going to move on to the next week. That is all. I do not know. I would not tell you that anyway (laughter)."

On if Mayfield will be limited with his throwing following his hand injury:

"No, he should not be."

On what makes Dunlap and Atkins successful:
"Geno has always been an explosive guy, can get push in the pocket and then you have Carlos. The way pass rushing works is you like to get push in the pocket and then you like someone to come around the edge and kind of encapsulate the quarterback, and they do a good job of that. They have done a good job of that for a long time so they kind of play off of each other. Carlos can get around the edge, and Geno can push the pocket. They have other guys up front who play with extremely high motors. I think they are pretty good up front."

On if there are any concerns with new players rotating into the Browns DL, given it has been viewed as a strength of the team:

"That is the battle of the NFL, right? There is an old saying that if you keep them, eventually they are going to play for you, and when they play for you, they need to play well enough to win. That is the reason I always say that if we put someone out there, he is expected to play well and play winning football. I am happy with the guys that we have brought in. (General Manager) John (Dorsey) and those guys have done a good job of finding people to replace guys a we lose guys, and that is part of the league, too, is finding guys like (DE Porter) Gustin and (DE) Bryan (Cox) that can come in and take snaps and be productive when they are in there."

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