Hue Jackson conference call - 9/1


Opening statement:**

"To think through a lot of this for today, I just want to talk about our team and where we are right now, but before I talk about our team in general, I just want to talk about some meetings I had today. I had some really productive meetings with our personnel staff in our final evaluations to establish our roster for the 2017 season. It is always a tough day when you have to tell players they will no longer have the opportunity to be with your team. I tell each of them to never give up on their dreams and to keep working hard towards it because more opportunities will arise. We really appreciate them for the work that they have put into being a part of this organization, but as we all know, we can't keep them all and so today is a tough day.

"I am encouraged. Encouraged is a word I want to use about how we wrapped up the preseason. We were able to accomplish several things, and I will list those. If you look at every side of the ball, offensively, I think we have identified a quarterback (DeShone Kizer) that we think we can develop into a good one that can help us win games. We had some success running the ball, and we feel like we can really commit to running the ball in the regular season. We were not by any means perfect in that area, but I think we did a pretty good job at protecting the ball. We do have to continue to work at running it and continue to become that team that can grind it out that way. Those things are all positives.

"Defensively, we feel like we were really able to establish an identity along with (defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams and his staff of what we want to be. We were aggressive, relentless to the ball, didn't miss many tackles and didn't allow the offense in the end zone many times. We were able to limit big plays, and we got after the quarterback. Those are all ingredients of a winning defense.

"On special teams, we were able to identify a returner (DB Jabrill Peppers) that we feel is a threat, kickers that we think will be consistent and our cover units were solid. There were some issues with penalties, but we are going to address those here. As I mentioned last night, I think sometimes in the preseason things are called a lot tighter than they are [in the regular season]. Just like it is preseason for the players, I think it is also preseason for our officials.

"We all understand that it was the preseason. It will take more work to be successful in the regular season, but we feel like we have a lot to build upon. Where we are as an organization, I think you guys know because you have really seen this for two years, the development of players is so important to our organization. As a coaching staff, we feel like we have seen that on the other side of the ball. During the preseason, that is how you become a good football team. We have to do a great job of coaching these guys. You hear about the organization always talking about building through the draft. Very rarely do players come into this league ready to contribute, and I think we have found a couple guys that might be able to do that for us this year, which is good. When you look at where we are now from the beginning of the season, we have seen a lot of our young players start to develop, and you hope the development results into team success. We are going to keep trying to stack these small victories on top of each other. We understand that the regular season is going to be long, and we have some challenges ahead of us, but we are looking forward to it.

"On the injury front, (OL) Rod Johnson was really the only injury coming out of the game that will result in some missed time. He has some tests on his knee, and we will learn more about those here in the future. We will just kind of go from there."

On who will follow QB DeShone Kizer on the depth chart:

"We are getting closer to that. We haven't made a final decision yet, but we are getting closer to wrapping that up here pretty soon."

On if the Browns will need to add a veteran QB, if Brock Osweiler does not make the 53-man roster:

"We haven't made those decisions yet. I know you are asking, 'what if.' We will think about that as we go. I just think when it is all said and done, you have to make sure you keep the best players that you feel that can help you win. Experience is important, but at the same time, I think talent level and where we are and what we are trying to accomplish is important, too."

On what DB Jason McCourty brings to the team and how his role has changed after DB Joe Haden was released:

"Jason obviously was a guy we brought here to help our football team be better in the secondary. He has played some corner, and he has played a little safety for us. This is a veteran player who has played in the National Football League, understands how to prepare and how to get ready. He has seen almost every offense that you can think about in the National Football League so he gets it. He has been a steady influence with our young players that are back there and even with our young defense. He is a mature veteran NFL pro who knows how to play the game."

On how much Haden's knowledge of the Browns factors into the team's preparation for the Steelers:

"Obviously, Joe was here and he was a part of our defense and practiced against our offense all of the time. Obviously, there are certain things he will know, but I don't put a lot of stock into that because I think what is important is guys still have to play the game. Sometimes you can be given information, and it might be the wrong information. I am sure Joe is going to do what he needs to do within their system, and we have to go play football within our system."

On if the Browns are waiting to announce the 53-man roster until players from other teams are available, given his comment about productive meetings with the personnel staff:

"No, it really is a matter of having more discussions. We were able to get through one wave. Obviously, there will be others as we go. We still have to talk through some things. I wanted to spend some time with our staff today. It gave me an opportunity to take just a little bit of a break from that as we continue to look at different things that we need to do to continue to get our roster stronger."

On the Browns starting CBs following Haden's release:

"Right now, as I said before and I think I said this the other day, I don't think we really – (defensive coordinator) Gregg (Williams) has said this – we don't really have starters because we play in so many different packages. You can look out there and you can see (DB) Jamar Taylor with (DB) Briean Boddy-Calhoun, you could see him with (DB) Jason McCourty that it all depends on the package we play in based on what the other team is doing. It could be several guys. It could be several guys back there that may look like starters, but it depends on the package we play."

On which DB will most often defend the slot:

"That is what I'm saying. They all could. They all could end up in the slot. It depends on who is in the slot for the team we are playing. We don't look at it like that. I know everybody is looking, 'Who is the nickel? Who is the corner?' We match up sometimes versus certain people so I couldn't tell you who is the 'starter'. That is why Gregg has said that before. We really don't have starters that way."

On if offensive line coach Bob Wylie is OK after taking a fall in Thursday's game:

"Yeah, he is OK, but he did take a nasty fall. I think they were trying to hold him up, and all of a sudden, he got a little close to the action. He did. He took a pretty good spill, but he got up, finished the game, and he is in here today and doing well."

On if anyone has taken the lead in the kicking competition:

"We will let you know once we make that decision. I think you are going to find that out here pretty soon. I'm not going to announce that today until we have made a decision exactly where we are as far as that is concerned."

On if the Browns would consider keeping two kickers on the 53-man roster:

"I would think not, but that would be a question for (Executive Vice President Football Operations) Sashi (Brown). In my mind, I wouldn't think there would be a need to, even though I think they are both really good players. As you guys know, we are so young and we need to make sure we have as many good players on this team as we can because we can't kick them both at the same time. I hope not, but if we do, then we do."

On how much influence he has in shaping the final 53-man roster:

"Obviously, me and Sashi, we sit down and collaborate through it all, but it is his call. I think we all know that, and I respect that. That is why I keep saying that. At the end of the day when those decisions need to be made, he will ask my opinion, but he gets to make that decision."

On if he would prefer to keep two or three QBs on the 53-man roster:

"I like to have as many as I can have. I would like to have at least three if we could, but if we decide to go with two and we feel that is best for the organization, than we will do that, too. One thing I know, we are going to have a starter. We have to have a backup. After that, however this unfolds is how it is going to unfold."

On evaluating a defensive performance when an offense plays vanilla, specifically in reference to last night's game:

"What I have seen from our defense is what I have seen from practice and what I have seen in games. Whether teams are vanilla or whatever they want to do, the fundamentals of playing defense still has to show up. That has shown up throughout preseason. That has shown up through training camp. I think our guys are understanding our system, and we have to continue to get better within the system, but I think the start and the identity that I mentioned earlier is really starting to show."

On the young Browns WRs' performance during the preseason:

"They are young, and there are times that we wish we could have gotten the ball to them more. Some guys started to step up and make some plays, but we have to continue to keep growing, keep getting better, keep working with these guys and keep pushing. I think these guys are chomping at the bit to have success and keep working at it. We just have to keep going in that direction."

On if Sashi Brown is more open to keeping players who weren't drafted:

"I think Sashi is open to keeping players who are the best players. Whether they are drafted or whether they are undrafted, if he feels like a player helps our team win and gives us the right fit for our football team, I think he is definitely open to that, no question."

On an update on RB Matthew Dayes' status:

"I think he is fine. As I mentioned last night, he bumped his head, but I think he is fine. I hate to say that because you will needle me on that one (laughter), but he is fine."

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