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Gregg Williams press conference - 12/5

Opening statement:

“Back at it again today. Another high-energy practice. They love to compete, and they were competing at the start and they were competing at the finish. It was fun to see the jaw jacking going on when they were competing back and forth with each other. Looking forward to another opportunity to get in front of the home fans and play in the home stadium. Our guys are excited about that. They started talking about that right off the bat this morning. 

“(DB) Denzel (Ward), he is still in the [concussion] protocol. Have not gotten anything else different with him. (DL) Larry (Ogunjobi) is making progress, and I will know a little bit more about him by the end of the day probably.”

On why the team practiced inside today:

“I was waiting for that one. You will love this is that the weather is supposed to be pretty decent this weekend. As soon as we went out there, the field was slick so I am not going to jeopardize an injury or whatever. We will be out there tomorrow, Friday and everything, but it is not something that you have to do every day, It is about making sure our guys are executing and practicing and can for whatever reason is there a way to minimize some of the guys that are having the long strides and the slides and being on the ground. When one guy goes down on the ground, especially in practice situations, it is a domino effect. Other guys get hurt when they start falling all over each other. Went inside today just because of how slick it was. We will see about getting back out in the next couple of days.”

On Ogunjobi’s status:

“The big thing is just waiting for the final little thing with the doctors, what he is talking through with them and where we are, and then we will be off and running because he is a tough dude. Larry is tough.”

On DB Terrance Mitchell returning to the active roster:

“Terrance practiced, and he practiced well, today. He is taking the next step. We will see how it goes day by day by day. It is one of those things where it is hard for people to understand this, but you just do not want people to be out that long and then just all of a sudden think you can step back in (laughter). It is not that easy in the National Football League. That is why we have done this week by week by week thing. Lots of times – I have been guilty of it before, earlier in my career – is that when you throw them back in hurry, all of a sudden there, is a soft tissue injury; all of a sudden, there is a pull or a strain; or all of a sudden because of the speed… We try to do everything that we can in rehab to make it realistic, but until you get back out there competing, there is nothing realistic until change in direction’s and stuff. He has done very well. He had a good day today. Just knock on wood, let him go day by day by day and see how he gets to the weekend.”

On if Mitchell could potentially start:

“He can come in and play. He can come in and play so we will see. We are waiting to see how it goes the rest of the week. This was really the first active, really get after it [practice]. The last two weeks, we have been wanting to make sure that we were not setting him back:”

On if Mitchell’s return is even more significant, given Ward is in concussion protocol:

“We have done a really good job with guys bouncing around. We do believe strongly in our next man up so we have already been doing those types of things already. The next guy has to be ready to go.”

On K Greg Joseph’s development:

“He has improved. He really has. I thought he had one of his best weeks last week. I go back to coaching kickers and punters a long time ago, too. It is a step-by-step process with that. Solid today. Until you get into the real fire of games, those are the things where confidence builds from the real fire of games.”

On the differences between preparing for Panthers QB Cam Newton and Texans QB Deshaun Watson:

“Both very athletic. Both very instinctive – things that you, as a coach, can’t coach the things that they are able to do. Cam is extremely powerful. I have already told the guys, I was in that division when he was a rookie and have seen him grow from his rookie year. I was in that division. The hard thing, when I said it Monday in the meeting room, is I said that he is bigger than (DL) Myles (Garrett). People said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘There it is. There is your quarterback right here. Myles Garrett. That is the kind of framework that you guys are looking at here.’ They are started smiling once they all started watching the film on him again and some of the young guys that have not had the chance to play against him. He has grown and taken very good steps year by year by year. (Panther offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) has done a really good job with the things that they are doing with him. Deshaun has all of those same athletic things that Cam has, and he has blistering speed, too. We have our work cut out for us. It is back-to-back games with that kind of a quarterback but more powerful in the pocket. When you are taking a look at getting him down in the pocket, now that is a grown man now. It is not a small quarterback.”

On Newton’s production:

“He has done a very good job of buying into the quick releases. He has not held the ball as long as he was earlier in his career. He has done a very good job of recognizing and defining coverage, getting the ball out of his hands and making good plays that way. He really has. He has taken the obvious read more times than not instead of forcing the ball. That is what happens when you grow as a quarterback, and he has.”

On Newton’s four interceptions last week:

“There were some similarities when I looked on film. Some of the things where he forced a few balls. Give Tampa credit, a couple of times they came out of nowhere and undercut a couple of routes, but he forced a couple of throws. We fought through some of the same things last week. It is never easy as a quarterback in our league, but he has had an unbelievable year until last week when he had a couple of things like that.”

On Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey:

“I was talking when I was walking in here today and I just shake my head, the circle of life. I still think I am pretty young, and I am coaching against his dad (former NFL WR Ed McCaffrey) back in the 90s and the early 2000s. Then now, all of a sudden, here is his son coming up. I also see some of the similarities as a route catcher as a back, and his dad was a receiver. He has very good hands. They are doing a really good job of creating the space and putting him into the different positions, trying to motion and shift and trick some things around to get him the opportunities to have the ball in space. One of the things that was an unbelievable statistic – I do not know if you guys have heard it or seen it yet – but I was pounding in that he has played 97.1 percent of the plays this year. Wow, from the tough, physical position of the running back. They have done a good job of also getting him into space situations so that he does not take the bang up inside as much as maybe some of the other traditional running backs. He is a really good football player. He is a really good instinctive football player, both as a runner and as a catcher.”

On if McCaffrey is a better at rushing or receiving:

“I think that he is better at both. I can’t tell the difference in that respect. When he is a receiver, boy, he looks good running it. Look at all of the yards after catch. Go back and take a look at those stats on him. They are phenomenal – once he catches the ball, how many yards he gets after the catch. Good coaches and good systems, that is what they do. They create those situations for those types of running backs and those types of receivers when you have those types of guys, when you get it to them as fast as you can in space and let them go. He does a really good job with that.”

On if he was surprised by his success as a pro player, given some people didn’t expect him to be as successful as he was in college:

“I thought that he was going to be really good, but again, I did not do all of the extensive studying on him. I do think that he has woken up a lot of people. People have opened their eyes on maybe I better go back and think about that again.”

On if there are indications Newton’s shoulder is still bothering him at times, especially given Newton has not been in certain plays where the Panthers take deep shots:

“Everyone in a while you see that, but then did I see him cut loose with one when he was in the pocket. I do not know if it is something on a deep ball thing that they think maybe they have a guy that can really wing it and get it down there further. I have been on staffs like that before where our offense has done some things like that. I will tell you this is that every once in a while when I think maybe his shoulder is sore, I see him just absolutely throw it lights out right down the middle of the field and stick it in some tight windows the way he has always been able to do that. I think he has done very well. I think Norv has done a very good job with him.”

On Mayfield going against the Panthers defense led by Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly:

“You are not going to fool those kinds of guys. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to coach him many years ago. He did not fall right in the draft and did a lot of work on him. There are a lot of similarities from a mental standpoint of what we were talking about with (LB Joe) Schobert and what you see with Kuech and what he is able to do on the checks systems and understanding the little nuances of offensive concepts and stuff. He is able and not afraid to abort the defensive call or his responsibility because he understands the offensive concept. Those are things that pose problems. Baker has been studying a bunch, and we have all talked about those kinds of things with him and some of the other guys there, too. It will be a good competition.”

On why RB Duke Johnson Jr. did not practice today:

“Personal. It is excused. He has been excused, but it is personal. He will be fine.”

On if Johnson Jr. will practice tomorrow:

“Yeah. Hopefully, he will.”

On the issues with the Browns run defense:

“A couple things about that is we played so strong except for a couple of them popped. A couple of plays popped, which skewed the statistics on that right there, but they were a good run defense. One of the things you do also is when you are concerned about the effective mobility of the quarterback it will open up a couple of seams that way. We are going to have those same issues this week.”

On his message to Mayfield about turnovers:

“If I have to – this is good – at this level, at this time of his life, if there has to be a super message, it is the wrong guy, and that is not. It never was on the sideline with him. With those mistakes, he accepts responsibility and gets on to the next play. I have been around those kinds of people, too, and not just at the quarterback position but a lot of times at the cornerback position. Our corner will make a mistake and for the next four or five plays, he is just awful. You have to get on to the next play. Those are what really good players do, and he has that in him. He did that day and today he brought a smile as he is getting everybody fired up out there today on lots of different competition type things, and so no worries at all.”

On facing McCaffrey and Newton in the running game:

“Those two things is that in their run-game the top two guys in their run-game are obviously Cam and McCaffrey. Both of those things that you have to identify at the point of attack, identify by the formations that they are creating and understanding the responsibility for both of them. Those are things that schematically that you have to have ready to roll and we do.”

On if it is annoying to prepare for a running QB:

“That big [as Newton] (laughter). I rather them not be as big as him, and I have a lot of respect for him. I really do. He is a really good football player. We are going to have to make sure we stay on our scheme responsibility, and then you can be right on it and then be overpowered because that is how big he is. He can break a tackle.”

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