Press Conference

Freddie Kitchens talks Derrick Willies' big catch, RG competition and more - Press Conference

On today’s practice:

“I thought we were hit or miss. I thought we felt sorry for ourselves a little bit. I think we tried to come out of it, but we were hit or miss at the end, which is a learning experience for these guys, too. They will learn from it. Next time in that situation, we will be better.”

On former Browns offensive line coach Bob Wiley’s comments, specifically about past assistant coaches:

“I know Bob Wiley to be a good person, and out of respect for his family, I will not get into any of that because he is a father, he is a husband and he is a granddad. I would just say this about that whole situation: Bob knows what happened, Bob knows what was going on, and when he was here, he knew everything about it. That was last year. Listen, Bob was not under contract. He forgot to tell everybody that. He was not under contract. He had talked about retiring forever. Sometimes when a person says something, they have to be made to feel relevant, OK? Bob is a good person, and I do not want to lose sight of that. I have too much respect for him as a person. What I would say, though, is what got lost in the shuffle is what really mattered into what we are doing right now. For whatever reason it got lost in the shuffle, we just had 40,000 people at a stadium for a practice, where all the proceeds went to the ‘Get 2 School’ initiative that the Browns have done. That got lost into the shuffle of all this stuff that happened last year. The days of inside information and the days of unnamed sources and stuff like that have ended. You are not going to get any information like that ever – anybody. If I ever see it, they are fired immediately. That is the way we are running this organization. I can take it. (General Manager) John Dorsey can take it. We will not crack. I promise you.”

On the Browns’ plan for RB Kareem Hunt:

“He just started back last week with individual periods. We are trying to slowly work him in. He is trying to still fight through [the groin injury] a little bit. I told him that he has to train not quite as hard in the offseason.”

On how Hunt’s suspension factors into how much he will practice and play in the preseason games as the Browns prepare for the regular season opener:

“We are still playing it day by day. We really do not know yet. Just to be perfectly honest, we have not even started thinking about Tennessee yet. We are trying to live in the moment of today. We have some corrections to make today and to get better tomorrow.”

On the significance of G Eric Kush playing at RG with the first team in back-to-back practices:

“It is still a competition. I am looking for somebody to step up. I told all three of them that I looking for somebody to step up. We are almost two weeks in now. Somebody needs to start separating themselves.”

On if Kush is the front runner for RG, given his back-to-back practices with the first team:

“Yeah, we will see if he can string some days together.”

Check out photos from the tenth day of Browns Camp by team photographer Matt Starkey

On level of confidence at RB behind RB Nick Chubb, given RB Duke Johnson Jr.’s injury and hunts suspension:

“I think that kind of will take care of itself as we move along. Duke will be back. He is not going be out too much longer. He is kind of getting close. It will shape itself out, I am not really worried about it.”

On the significance of a backup RB:

“This is the National Football League, I think you need more than one and you probably need more than two. We have some other guys that have been showing some signs. (RB) D’Ernest (Johnson) had one of the best blitz pick ups today that I have seen in a long time. He can do the job. We are getting comfortable with him. He just needs to keep working and see what we have at the end of all this. Then we will make a decision at the end.”

On WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s illness and if Beckham will practice tomorrow:

“He is not feeling good. That is probably more of a hour-by-hour thing. I know he was not feeling really good this morning, which was evident.”

On WR Jarvis Landry’s status:

“We just brought him in to check him out and make sure he was okay. I have not got the full lowdown on it yet – how severe, how significant. Jarvis is a tough guy. He was out there practicing with it, and he is a tough guy. We will monitor him accordingly and give him reps.”

On if WR Jaelen Strong is progressing:

“I think so. (WR Derrick) Willies came back today. The thing with Derrick the other day at the stadium, he had a pretty good day. Iit may have not been shown stat wise, but he had a pretty good day as far as route running, exploding off the ball, vertical speed and things like that. The one little miss he had in the two-minute drive kind of over-shadowed everything that he did good, which it over-shadows the team when that happens because you lose games like that. Derrick is going to continue to learn and continue to move forward. I have total confidence in him. I was glad to see him make a tough catch at the end of practice. Jaelen is continuing to work. You are right, he strung together a couple of days. We will see if it continues. The point of all of this is we have to string together days – we have to string together games. Right now, we are just interested in tomorrow and that is how you do that. You just stay in the moment, you go on the practice field, you string together a good day and good days happen by taking good reps. Before you know it, you have strung together three or four good days.”

On if he already has in mind the number of WRs on the initial 53-man roster:

“The thing we tell these guys all the time is you are not only competing with the guys on our roster; you are competing with 32 other teams. We will see what happens, but we are only concerned right now about the guys that are here and trying to get these guys better. From a coaching standpoint, our coaches are going to get these guys ready to play in this preseason game because that is a job interview for them for us or for other teams. We are not going to shortchange them from that standpoint. We are going to put them in positions to be successful, and we will go from there. As far as numbers, we are not counting numbers right now.”

On Chubb and Hunt developing a strong relationship off the field and what Hunt can learn from that relationship:

“First and foremost now, Nick Chubb is one of the finest human beings I know. He is one of the hardest workers I know. Have you ever talked to Nick? Did it take any prodding? Nick Chubb is all about work. Do you want to know what the definition of keeping your head down and just going to work is? It is him. If Kareem learns nothing other than that, that is a benefit to Kareem and that is a benefit to our team.”

On if he has seen Hunt make any changes since the bar incident:

“You know what? it is really one of those things where sometimes if you start feeling good about yourself about what you are doing as a person, then maybe I can do a few other things, whatever those things are. I think it kind of just brought him back to reality that you are in the NFL man. You are Kareem Hunt. You got to be careful in everything that you do because these things right here (cameras) are everywhere. I am pleased with Kareem. Do not misinterpret that. I am pleased with Kareem on the progress he is making off the field, more so than anything.”

On his message to a group of Browns players who did not participate today:

“That will stay between us.”

On if he saw the video of QB Baker Mayfield at the Cleveland Indians game:

“How am I supposed to answer this one? Yes, I did. It was impressive. It was very impressive.”

On if he can shotgun a beer as well as QB Baker Mayfield:

“Can I? No, I do not drink beer anymore. That is a lie, I told you all I would not lie – that is a lie (laughter).”

On if he has ever bitten into a beer can to open it:

“I have not. I would be worried about my teeth.”

On giving the starting DL the day off from team drills after a player off day:

“I did not give them the day off. That is not to say they were not over there for a reason. I want to clarify that. I do not know how much I have to clarify. We are not giving people days off. If they are over there, they are over there for a reason.”

On if the defense is starting to click more for LB Mack Wilson:

“Yes, I think Mack is continuing to come on. He is a work in progress. He made some great plays the other day on Saturday and made some more today. He is going to keep getting better.”

On his initial impression of and relationship with Chubb:

“Nick Chubb has not changed. He was like that at Georgia. Some of my best friends coaches him at Georgia. He has not changed. He is the same guy as he was when he showed up as a freshman. He is just bigger, faster and stronger now. Internally, he has not changed. It has been a physical camp so far so we are going to have some bumps and bruises. The defensive line I still feel like is going to be the strength of our football team. They have been working their tail off. They have got some bumps and bruises.”

On if the Browns offense will be more pass-oriented and the importance of RB Nick Chubb:

“We will not be a pass-happy team. I will just go ahead and put it bluntly to you. We will not be a pass-happy team. We will do what we need to do to win the game or attempt to win the game. We are going to run the football.”

On what Browns players who are added to the roster at this point in training camp have to do to catch up:

“Continue showing up. We tell them it is either you are getting exposed or you are getting exposure, one or the other. It is only going to be one of the two things. If you are just out there and you are not doing either one, that is not a good thing either. Just continue to show up on tape.”

On his reaction as a head coach to comments like Wylie’s:

“At the end of the day, no, I do not feel angry. I know what happened, he knows what happened and the staff knows what happened. Here is the thing that gets lost in the shuffle with all of that. It is kind of a microcosm that we are worried about… I have never worried about any appreciation or asked for any tooting of my horn or anything like that, but we seem to ask for it. What about the players? What did the players do? Did they have anything to do with the turnaround? I really truly feel this game is about the players. It is not about me. It is not about Bob. It is not about the staff. Our job is to get them ready to play. It is about them. When do they get their credit? They had to make a conscious decision to turn it around, and they did that. I would say that about the comments. It does not matter. Bob does not wear brown and orange anymore. I had the opportunity to hire Bob. I did not want to. I went to the hospital to see Bob every week he was in the hospital. I FaceTimed Bob before every game before we went out as a staff just so he would continue to feel a part of it. At what point does Bob realize it was the players and not the coaches that turned it around? Now, that is the last thing I will say about it.”

On how comments like Wylie’s and off-field items play into the role of being head coach and the importance of those as a head coach:

“The only reason it was important to me is because… I am not going to lie to you, it was not important to me at all. The players are the ones that turned this around. I do not care what he says about me. I can take it. The players are the ones that turned it around. Those guys that he coached gave up five sacks in the last eight games of the year. That’s it. Bob did a hell of a job. Whoever you want to give the credit to or whoever wants the credit, can get it. I know where the credit needs to be. It needs to be on the players because they made the decision to do it – not Bob, not me, not anybody. Bob did not go out and play a down, the players did.”

On other member of the Browns coaching staff and their philosophies on players deserving the credit:

“I hired the guys I wanted to hire for a reason, and it is all encompassing. I feel like our staff will stay together no matter what. I feel like our staff will pull in the same direction no matter what. I feel like our staff will put the players first just like me because it is demanded because I know that is how you win.”

On if QB Baker Mayfield’s TD pass to WR Derrick Willies was planned or improvised:

“He threw it a little late so it ended up being a little improvisation. Is that a word? (laughter) Derrick made a great play on the ball. It was two great players making a play.”

On Willies punting the football after scoring his TD was out of jubilation or frustration:

“Probably a combination. That was a competitive period. When you have success, I want them to show emotion. If you can’t be passionate about the game, you do not need to be playing it. Now, as long as he is in the end zone. If he had punted it at the one, that would be a different conversation.”

On Willies being flagged for his TD celebration:

“Did he? I would not go off that too much. Really?”

On who RB D’Ernest Johnson took out in the blitz pick up Kitchens was impressed by:

“I am not sure. I do not know. We almost made them run, though. You would have liked that (laughter).”

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