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Press Conference

Hue Jackson press conference - 9/5

Head Coach Hue Jackson:

Opening statement:

"I had a chance to have the team select captains today so I will make that announcement first. The team voted (QB) Tyrod Taylor, (OL) Joel Bitonio, (P) Britton Colquitt, Kirko (LB Christian Kirksey) and (DL) Myles Garrett [captains]. All of those guys were voted on by their teammates. I think those are the guys that they see who demonstrate leadership qualities on and off the field. I let the players make that choice, and those are the guys that they picked. A really interesting dynamic of all of the guys that were picked. Britton, this is his second year [as captain]. There is something that he does in the locker room that I think the guys really appreciate. I am not surprised at Kirko. I am not surprised at Joel. I am not surprised at Tyrod. I am not surprised at Myles because I think that he is becoming that type of player. I think the more vocal he becomes, the better we will become. That is just going to be the challenge for him.

"This is an exciting time. An opportunity to play here at home in front of or fans, in front of the Dawg Pound against a division rival, a really good Pittsburgh football team. We understand who we are playing. We understand what is at stake. It is opening day. It is a chance for us to go out and showcase our football team. We are looking forward to it. It is competition at the highest level. I think that we all know that. They are the best of the best, one of the best in the AFC. We respect them, but at the same time, our guys are excited about playing. We are looking forward to it.

"As far as injuries are concerned, there is nothing really to report today. I think that everybody is moving forward. (LB James) Burgess (Jr.) is still not out there yet, but outside of that, we are a very healthy football team."

On if he is ready to announce the team's starting LT for Sunday:

"No. Still working through it. Probably Friday. Friday I will know for sure. I just want to get through practice as I said to you guys and kind of go from there before I make that choice."

On who is playing on the left side of the Browns OL during practice:

"I am using all kinds of guys during practice. I owe it to our football team. I owe it to all involved to make sure that we make the right choice to start the game."

On why he has not announced the starting Browns OL for Sunday:

"I have always said from the start that we are going to play the best five guys. To me, that still was ongoing. I never said these are the five guys who are the starters and they are playing. I have never made that announcement. It is still ongoing to me. My job is to make sure that we play the best guys. That is what I am trying to do."

On if he is looking for the best five guys for Week 1 or for the whole season:

"I think it is the best guys for the season. That is the way that you want to start it, but we all know all that is going to be fluid as you go. I think that whatever you decide, make sure that it is the right decision and keep going. If we have to change it, that is football. You make the right choices as you go. We will start it on Sunday – whatever that is – and then we will kind of go from there."

On WR Josh Gordon not starting:

"Let me say this, I know that everybody maybe does not understand it. 'Josh Gordon is back. He should walk right back out there and start.' I am not about entitlement for players. I am about work. I am about when guys are here, the guys that have been here the whole time working and busting their tail – and they are on the team and they play receiver, too – that if a guy is ready and up for the game, why should I start him in front of them when they have done the most work? Right is right. We have to have some form of how we do business here in our building. Our players know that. That is not new. I just wanted to make sure that you guys knew that he was not going to walk right out there first. It did not mean that he was not going to play. I never said that. He is just not going to start. I think that is the right thing to do. We have rules and how we go about our business in our locker room. Our players get it and understand it. They know how this works. I think that [externally] we are making a little bit more about it than what it is. This is just our rule. This is how we do it. Guys that have been here and put in the most time, they are going to get the first opportunity it to go out there. That is the way that it should be done."

On if Gordon could potentially play the second offensive snap of the game:

"All depends on what personnel group we call."

On his decision to not start Gordon simply to 'make a statement':

"This is something that we do. This is our rule here. Josh is not surprised by it. Nobody else would be either. If you do not practice, if you have not been here and went through what everybody else has gone through, I do not think that it is right that you just get to do whatever you want to do. We are not going to have that kind of program here. That is what it is. He is back. He is doing what he needs to do. When his number is called, he will be out there playing."

On if Gordon's play time will primarily be based on how he performs early in the game:

"No. I have never gone at it like this. As I have said before, I do not think that Josh is going to play the whole game. He has not played in a preseason game. He has been in practice. I do not know how many plays a guy can play that has not done as much as everybody else. We will see as we go. I think that we will have a number pitch count for him to see if he can give us that because I think that is the right thing to do for him. My concern is if we give him too much, we might be leaving him out there for potential injury. Then all of a sudden, we do not have him for a while. We have to make sure that we monitor that, as well."

On Gordon's potential impact and Gordon saying he was 'locked in':

"He can have a huge impact if he plays the way that we know he can. Obviously, the guy can run and catch and jump and do all of those things. We anticipate him having an impact on the football game. What that is going to be, it will show itself on Sunday."

On if Gordon seems different than before:

"No question, Josh is in a much better place. He has done a great job. Kudos to him for what he did prior to coming back. I am not punishing him for that. I think that we all know there is a responsibility level that I have to the rest of the team to put them out there and put him out there and put him in the best situation so that he can have success, too. Do not get me wrong, we are going in there trying to win this game. We are not going in there to make statements to people. We are going to try to win the football game so we are going to put the best players out there that can play. Josh has been outstanding, and he needs to continue to do what he is doing."

On the need to count on Browns players' availability:

"All the time."

On if he is confident he can count on Gordon's availability throughout the season:

"Let me say this, I think that he is in a different place, but I think that we all know that there is always a possibility. I just think that is the right way to look at it. Since I have been here, like I have said before, I have never had Josh to start a season. This is great. I think that we are all excited about that, but he has to continue to do his work. We have to continue to create the right environment for him to keep him here for 16 games. I know that is what he is trying to do, and that is what we are trying to do. We are doing it together. I think that is really, really good."

On encouraging Garrett to be more vocal as a leader or if that is occurring naturally:

"A little bit of both. I think it is just kind of happening like you said organically, and every now and then I kind of try to get it out of him a little bit more. The best players normally have big impacts on games, and when they speak, everybody kind of listens. He needs to do it on a consistent basis. We have seen signs of it. I think he knows he has to do it, and we have to do it in what kind of games? These kind of games."

On if it is contrary to his personality to be vocal or 'rah, rah':

"I think he is fooling you guys a little bit (laughter). I think it is in there, I really do. I have seen it. I have seen it more lately than ever before. It is in there. I think he is finally starting to let it out."

On Garrett as a leader providing tips to veteran DL Nate Orchard, as seen on Hard Knocks:

"I have witnessed that, first hand in his meetings that is just him. He does a good job of mentoring. Whether you are an older player or younger player, I think people respect him because of talent. I think hopefully they will respect him more because of what he does on the field week in and week out. That is how you build the type of player we think he is going to be. I think that is the way people see him, but he has done a good job that way. He is always there to help in any situation with his teammates."

On if he has seen a different level of focus from QB Tyrod Taylor entering Week 1 and excitement to see Taylor play:

"First, I am very excited to watch what he does this Sunday, but Tyrod is very consistent. I am sure there is a fire burning. It is the opening day for all of us so I think he will be very excited. He has been very consistent on how he comes in the building, when he leaves the building and how he is with his teammates. I think that is what you want. Everybody knows what they are going to get from him, and he has done a good job that way."

On the significance of winning the season opener, given the Browns' record last year, the game being against the Steelers and media personalities referring to it as the team's 'Super Bowl':

"Well it is important to get a win, because this is the game we are playing. I am not going to say it is the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is in February, but it is a huge game for us. It is out division rival. It is an AFC [North] game so it really counts as two at the end of the day. I think we all recognize that, and we want to get to winning as fast as we can, but it is a 16-game season and we get that to. Trust me, we are going into this game giving it everything we have, just like we do every week, but obviously this is the Pittsburgh Steelers and the AFC North games so we respect that."

On if he puts extra emphasis on the game due to the team's record last year:

"There is [an extra emphasis but] I am not going to say it is because of the record. There is always just an extra emphasis playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. That within itself tell you that you have to buckle up, cross the t's, dot all the i's and be ready to go. It is the opening game of the year so I am not going to look at it as extra emphasis. We emphasize every game we play so we are looking forward to it."

On how helpful offensive coordinator Todd Haley can be in preparing for the Steelers:

"Obviously, he has his things he has to worry about as the offensive coordinator, as well as (defensive coordinator) Gregg (Williams) on defense and (special teams coordinator) Amos (Jones) on special teams. When you leave a place and you get ready to play them, you want to make sure that where you left they know you are doing a good job and that you are helping the organization you came to. We all want that, but at the same time, I think Todd is a pro as a coach. He understands the emotions of it all, and he is going to handle that the right way and make sure this offense is ready to play."

On Williams' message to DB Denzel Ward prior to his matchup against Steelers WR Antonio Brown:

"Cover him. That is what it comes down to. It will not just be him. It is our defense against their offense. Obviously, Antonio is a tremendous football player, one of the best in this league at playing wide receiver. We are going to have to always know where he is and what he is attempting to do, and we have to get him shut down, but it will not just be Denzel trying to do that. We all have to do it as a defense. That is going to be important throughout this game."

On OL Desmond Harrison being listed on the injury report with a knee (limited) and if that impacts his decision at LT:

"No, he practiced."

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