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Hue Jackson press conference - 10/11

Head Coach Hue Jackson:

Opening statement:

“Another good day. Good day of practice. Good day of work as we get ready to play a really good football team.”

On if there is a level of concern playing three rookie WRs and a rookie QB:

“Yeah, it is concerning, but you practice, you trust them, you work with them and you feel good about how they are coming along. You have to roll the dice. We feel good about the guys we have. They have to go out and make plays. We have to put them in position to make plays and kind of go from there.”

On if WR Antonio Callaway has progressed as desired:

“I think he is making it by little doses. That is what you want to see. You want to see improvement. We did cut back on him last week so I just think that helped in my mind, just watching him have more burst at the end of the play harder, longer. I think that is important. We will continue to travel down that road. We understand we are playing with some young guys. They have to continue to grow. They are not rookies anymore. They have been playing so they got to go out and play well for us.”

On how youth on offense impacts offensive coordinator Todd Haley and the gameplan:

“We come up with a gameplan. We expect these guys to make plays if their number is called. We are not going to scale back on anything we do. If we had to do that, then we would be searching for people as was mentioned to put on our team. These plays we have been running since OTAs, through training camp, through preseason and now regular season so we are not going to change. We are going to go play football.”

On RB Dontrell Hilliard’s role:

“Special teams. Giving him a chance. He has the skillset that we like. He is fast, elusive. He did a good job on coverage teams. He did a good job on obviously receiving teams. We will give him a chance to go out there and demonstrate what he has.”

On WR Jarvis Landry being contacted on fourth down in OT:

“Boy, that was old news.

On if he received an interpretation from the NFL on the play:

“I did. I am not at liberty to speak about that obviously as you guys know.”

On if Hilliard will be used as a returner:

“He will be somewhere around there, chance to get his hands on the ball. I am not supposed to give away strategy today, am I? He is up for a reason so we will see what happens.”

On if facing a strong defense alters the offensive gameplan:

“Yeah, obviously tipped balls, another team taking the ball away. Sometimes tipped balls are just as good as taking it away. You have to kind of plan against those things and make sure there might be a particular corner that is getting a ton of interceptions or safety or linebacker. Obviously, you probably did not want to attack that guy. You probably want to look in a different direction. Does it influence what you do? Somewhat, yes. You want to do everything you can to possess the ball and not turn it over. I think you do look at it through that lens.”

On DL Larry Ogunjobi’s performance and the value of a DT contributing at a high level, particularly given a focus on edge rushers:

“Those guys are very valuable. Look at the young man in L.A. (Rams DT Aaron Donald) – paid handsomely for being able to rush the passer that way; (Cincinnati DT) Geno Atkins over in Cincinnati. Those guys are hard to find, but they are very, very needed on a football team that has a rusher because then the edge rusher becomes even better. Or the inside rusher becomes better because of the edge rusher. They kind of play off of each other so I think it is a good situation for us. We are glad Larry is improving. The guy that caught my attention last week was (DL Brian) Price. He did some really good things inside, as well. We are developing some guys. We have done a good job that way. As I told you guys before. I think (General Manager) John (Dorsey) is always looking to improve the team anyway that he can. I think that is important.”

On WR Derrick Willies and when the Browns realized he had an opportunity to make the team:

“We have always liked him since he was here. He has been big, fast and he has a long wingspan when he goes and gets a ball. We knew that there were things he was going to get a chance to do, and he started demonstrating that he wanted to play special teams, whatever it took to be a part of the team. He earned that opportunity. Obviously, we have been giving him more. Guys go down, he has been the next man up and he has responded and done a good job.”

On DB E.J. Gaines filling in for DB Terrance Mitchell:

“Really good. E.J. is a quality player in this league. He knows how to play. The week before, we had not had much practice outside playing corner and that was unfortunate. I thought he would come out and represent himself well and our team well. This past weekend, he did so. He has to do it again. He has to keep playing well for us.”

On Gaines recovering from an injury in training camp:

“I think that was important that he got through it as fast as he could because the team needed him back. You can’t ever have too many good corners – I think we all know that – in this league. Normally, it has been the soft tissue injures that have taken these guys out. You always feel like there is going to be a chance that somebody is not going to make it all the way through. Unfortunately, it happened with Mitch, but we have a quality guy in E.J. Gaines that we can put out there, and he has done well.”

On the Browns defense’s significant improvement, including with takeaways:

“Players first and foremost to be very honest with you and then the emphasis. We are not emphasizing any more than we did last year or the year before. It has always been something that we truly believe in as a staff and as a football team. We just have more guys who are capable making plays to get to the ball. A healthy (DL) Myles Garrett has something to do with that. An emerging Larry Ogunjobi has something to do with that. Those guys have done a good job Year 2 in (defensive coordinator) Coach (Gregg Williams’ system. I think all of those things are factored in, but at the end of the day I am going to give all of the credit to the players because I think we have some fine players who are making really good football plays, getting the ball out and taking the ball away.”

On changes to the Browns secondary this past offseason:

“We needed to have guys that can catch the ball. You are going to get chances to get your hands on it. I have seen guys that can’t catch. Have been back there and – not saying here – but guys who can’t catch that get their hand on the ball and the ball, it is not a turnover and the next play, they make a first down or score a touchdown. It is so important that when you get a chance to make plays on ball, you have to make them. We still feel like we left a lot out there. We got our hands on some other balls and have to continue to work at it.”

On if stripping the ball out is a matter of effort:

“It is a matter of knowhow, too because certain guys carry the ball a little differently than others – running backs as compared to receivers, tight ends and quarterback ball carriers. All of those things, we talk about. We coach the detail to find ways to get thins ball out. I think our guys are well versed on how different guys carry the ball in games to see if we can punch it out.”

On if the Chargers offense and if their running game is one of the best the Browns will face all season:

“Definitely will be one of the best ones we will face, but it is the quarterback. It starts with him and will end with him. He is as good as there is. He distributes the ball. He runs their system. He knows how to play the cat and mouse game between completions and handing the ball off. It is going to be about (QB) Philip (Rivers), but will this be the best run game we have seen all year? Probably so.”

On the duo of RBs Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler:

“Gordon is a physical runner. He is a downhill, get after it, get behind you pads [runner], but he has good lateral quickness. The other guy is fast. This guy can catch, and he can run. He does a lot of different things with the ball. They screen to him. They do it all to him. They have a pretty good one, two punch. We feel like we do, too. Our guys see our guys every day and our guys have been a challenge to them in practice. This will be a good matchup for our defense.”

On K Greg Joseph’s FG having a strange path and questions as to whether or not it was partially blocked:

“It was. I thought that he kicked a wobbler.”

On the Ravens overloading one side of the FG protection:

“We did not handle that very well. It looked like the guy jumped somewhat offside. (TE) Darren Fells went to go punch him, and the other guy jumped. (Ravens DB) Tony Jefferson jumped in between the gap between (OL Austin) Corbett and Fells. He got through. You just have to stay with your fundamentals in that situation, can’t guess that the official is going to make a call or anything like that. You have to do your technique, have to hang in there and do what we coach you to do.”

On the FG protection unit facing an overloaded defensive side:

“That is OK. That is the alignment. It takes care of that. You are going to have three on two sometimes in those situations. That is the way that some teams are going to overload that side. That is why we can’t in the middle of it to have offensive guys, ‘Hey, go over there.’ The width of how we align and the guys, how we would go about our technique, takes care of all of those things.”

On a need to keep the team grounded as it gains more national attention:

“Absolutely. We have not done anything. We have not qualified for anything. We have won two football games. We have played five last time I checked. We have done nothing. Even when we do something, we will have done nothing. We have a lot of work to do here. We are going to keep this team grounded and work in how we go about our business. That is what Cleveland is about – people that work hard earn what they get and get what they earn and keep finding ways to do it every day. That is just who we are going to be. I just think that is the only way to do this. We can’t get caught up in anything else. We are just going to put our head down, keep working, play the next opponent and go from there. 

On former Browns OL Joe Thomas’ NFL-record 10,363 snap streak going into the Browns’ Ring of Honor this weekend:

“I think it is unbelievable. My time here with one of the greatest players to me that has ever played the game at left tackle here in Cleveland was special to me. Watching Joe form a far and then having the chance to coach him, I understand why all of you guys thought that he was so special as a person. Then watching him as a player and watching a guy who would not take a play off – I do not care what the aches were or what the situation was – until he could not physically do it anymore. I will never forget walking on that field when he was down there and him not being able to get up, understanding that this might be it. To watch and look back on his career and see what he has done, man, that is amazing to me. Nobody else has ever play that many [consecutive] snaps, and I do not know if anybody else will do that again for a long time. It just tells you how important football was to him. To go through all of the seasons that he went through when things did not go well, that does not happen in this league and I think that we all know that. I think what he has done, the way he played, the way that he conducted himself with class within this organization, the way he conducted himself out in the community and all of the good things that he did for this football team will never be forgotten. Joe Thomas is a class person and a great, great football player.”

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