"First of all, I hear I don't get to see any of your beautiful faces tomorrow so happy Thanksgiving. I hope you and your families enjoy your day off. It is always a pleasure to see all of you. I am being honest. I am serious when I say that.
"Another tough opponent, another division opponent at their place. Cincinnati is starting to play well. Obviously, they are playing for something, too. They see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a good football team, but I am not trying to make the focus about them. I am trying to make the focus about our team and what we need to do to continue to get better. We keep stubbing our toe on some fundamental things and some things that we have to continue to correct. These guys, I really appreciate this football team. It is not where we want it to be, but these guys work hard, they come in this building, they are focused and they understand what we are trying to accomplish against the opponent. We just have to set out and do it. We have to have an opportunity to finish it play in and play out, but I love the spirit of this team and the grit of this team. They continue to work and they continue to give me everything that they have in the classroom and on the practice field. That is what you are looking for."
On the severity of DB Jabrill Peppers' injury and if he will play this week:
"We will see as we go through the week. Hopefully, we will get him back. Right now, he has to do some things in order to be out there this weekend."
On having WR Josh Gordon back at practice:
"It was good. He is something, now. It was a good first day with him – watching him run around and effort on the practice field, making plays on the ball, catching balls and doing things. He is what I thought he was."
On if there is any sense of 'betrayal' after Gordon didn't return to the team following last year's suspension:
"I don't think it is important to go back and revisit any of that. We have him now. He is out there practicing. He is with his teammates. He has done everything we have asked him to do and on we go."
On how helpful it is to have Gordon on the field competing with the defense:
"It helps tremendously. It does. You can just see there is a different spirit at practice. With him running around, there is different competition – the receiver versus the corner. That is nothing to say against the guys who are here. Josh is just a different talent. I think we all recognized that and appreciate that. I think his teammates see it. That is what it is all about. He is a really good player. As I told him today, he is going to earn it. There are a lot of things he has to continue to do and work through, and I think he is willing to do that."
On if Gordon's talent is still evident despite not practicing in the NFL for more than a year:
"Yes, no question. It does. He is big. He is fast. He is athletic and strong. He has strong hands, and he can run. He can really run. That is exciting. He has some work to do the rest of this week, and next week, we will stick him out there and let him play."
On Gordon returning in shape and ready to play and if that makes his return process easier, given some players have returned needing extra conditioning:
"It makes it easier for him because I think you can now get the focus on the things that really matter, which is preparing for a game as opposed to getting weight off, getting in shape or those types of things. I think he is in really good shape. I think he is in a really good place just as a person, first and foremost, and then in good shape [physically]. I think he is eager to continue to learn and to get better. He has done everything that we have asked him to do."
On if Gordon is participating in team drills and if he played Gordon with the first team offense at all today:
"Yes, I did today. You better believe I did. I just wanted to make myself feel happy for a little bit (laughter)."
On QB DeShone Kizer facing a repeat opponent for the first time in his career and expectations for his second game against Cincinnati:
"Hopefully, there will be some improvement. I think the first thing he said to me was, 'I watched the tape of the last time [we played Cincinnati], and boy, I have come a long way since then.' He has. There will be some carryover. There will be some things that Cincinnati will do that they did in the first game that hopefully he will recognize and see. There is a book in the National Football League in your division on who the quarterbacks are, who the defensive coordinators are and the offensive coordinators and head coaches, and everybody plays a certain style. He has to make sure that he crosses the t's and dots the i's for himself but also understand what Cincinnati is trying to accomplish, too, on defense."
On if it is difficult for a rookie in Kizer to remain a vocal leader on the sidelines if he doesn't start the game well, given comments on his demeanor in each of the past two weeks:
"Yes, but I would hope that he understands that as the quarterback regardless of how the game starts, you just have to be consistent and you have to be who you are because the team kind of feeds off of you. I think he gets it. It is a conversation we have had. I don't think he is doing it intentionally. I just think those things happen. There is no question when you have success early everything feels good. When you don't, you are not sure how things are going, but that is when you really have to push through and have that focus about 'I'm going to do everything I can to get it going my way by making the plays that I need to make.' It is a lesson learned. All of the things that we are talking about are little lessons for him week in and week out. There have been so many throughout this year that hopefully the growth will keep coming and he will keep learning from these things."
On if Gordon reminds him of Bengals WR A.J. Green in some ways:
"Oh yeah, it does. This guy, he is different. He just really is. It is fun to talk about him right now, but I really don't have him in a game yet. I think next week I will probably be too excited. I might miss some of these meetings talking to you guys working up things for him (laughter). It is fun to have a guy as talented as he is back on our football team. We will see what we can do with him next week."
On if he expects the Browns defense to create more turnovers:
"Our defense has given us everything they have. Our defense has done a really good job of keeping us in games. Do we want more and expect more? Yeah, we want more turnovers if we can get them. We are chasing them. Don't get me wrong. That is something that (defensive coordinator) Coach (Gregg) Williams is harping on with the guys, but to a man, those guys are laying it on the line week in and week out, and this football team is laying it on the line. We just have to continue to find ways to make more plays, as you just mentioned, whether it is interceptions or just get the other team's offense to do things – the self-inflicted wounds, penalties or whatever that is that can help our team capture a victory. I have asked a lot of them and Gregg has asked a lot of them, but I think those guys are responding and trying."
On practicing turnovers and how that transitions to games:
"You have to separate the other team from the ball, whether it is by tackling or like you said tipped balls or stripping the ball out. It is emphasized here. We are working at it. We want more. I think our players want more. I think they understand there is an art to it. Everybody has to be around the ball. You have to fly to the ball first. You have to play as hard as you can play and be around the ball. Then you have to find a way to make those special plays that way."
On if Kizer gets proper coaching and attention on the sideline between offensive series, given other teams have other systems:
"I think he does, honestly. We do have a process. He comes off the field. He immediately goes with (quarterbacks) Coach (David) Lee, and I am talking to Coach Lee through my headset about what it is that I saw to relay to him as they go through the pictures. Then I get the pictures myself. I do not know if you guys notice, but I always bring DeShone to me in between every series. Now, he is over there for a minute or two, but I bring him to wherever I am. I do not care if I am standing out on the field making a call; he is back there waiting. Normally, I take him back through what transpired on the last series and try to give him an idea where we are headed. I think our process is pretty good. I think he has worked through that. It is not just the way you have seen certain things on TV, but I have done this before and Coach Lee has done this before. I think he gets a lot of information in between – maybe sometimes too much information."
On stating he was 'done' with WR Josh Gordon after what transpired last year and welcoming him back this year:
"I was. I want you to know that. I was in the fact that for the football team a year ago, I thought it was important to really establish a culture here that was right and strong. If somebody was not going to be here, then I need to move on beyond that and we did. I was [done] based on what the situation was at that time. Then since then, understanding and truly getting – let's be honest, what this man has dealt with is a disease. It happens and it affects a lot of people in the world. I had to first educate myself and what he was going through and what he was dealing with. I have not had a lot of exposure to him other than what I knew. Then once I understood it better and watched him earn the right to be back in this building – again, I was able to monitor, was not able to talk to him but was able to monitor what he was doing and understood what he was going through; I felt more comfortable of understanding what was going on. If this was just another one of those fly by situations where he was going to be in and then back out again, I would not want any part of that – I do not think that is fair to the team; I do not think it is fair to the staff; and I do not think it is fair to the fans. I really do not because he is a very talented player. I truly believe this young man is working at. He still has to earn that from his teammates, from the coaches, from the fans and from you. That is what I think he understands now. He is in a lot better place now and a lot better place to have people assist him through this process."