Press Conference

Kevin Johnson: 'I feel blessed that I am able to be back out there'

CB Kevin Johnson:

On sustaining a lacerated liver and what he was thinking when heading to the hospital:

"It was definitely an unusual situation. I was just defending a pass in practice from a tight end in the red zone, and we were both extended in the air. We twisted up in the air, and he kind of just landed right on top of me onto my ribs. When the injury happened I just thought that I got the wind knocked on me really, really bad, but then it felt like a little bit different than that. I have had the wind knocked out of me plenty of times in my career so it just felt a little different from that. Then we got it checked out, and it turns out I lacerated my liver." 

On what was going through his mind when he learned he had a lacerated liver:

"I do not know. A lot of things were going into my head but, I just was hoping for the best. I was hoping that I was not going to have to get surgery and hoping that it was not you know too serious. I was really upset when I heard the news, just because it sounded kind of bad. I am definitely excited that this has passed and I feel good." 

On the uncertainty and having a timeframe for his return to play:

"It was uncertainty. When I first I lacerated my liver, I stayed in the hospital for about two nights, just to make sure that I was not internally bleeding. Once all of that cleared up and they saw that I was not bleeding inside of my body, that was a good thing. The next week, I got another checkup and, and it just kind of went from there from checkup to checkup to checkup. Once I hit about three weeks in, it was really healing pretty fast so that was really good news. We were just hoping that it stayed on the same course." 

On what was going through his mind during his first night in the hospital:

"It was pretty hard. I was not necessarily scared. I more so wanted to play. I would say that was the biggest. I was so upset about that just because I could not believe that it was such a random injury. It was not like I went out there and pulled my hamstring or something like that. It was like I didn't really know. 'Wow, I lacerated my liver.' I was pretty upset. I was pissed off more than anything. As the time went on, I was realizing that it was not too bad and I was healing pretty quick. I was pretty excited about that and I was looking forward for it to get better."

On people praying for his recovery:

"Yeah, I appreciate all those prayers that people sent my way." 

On how his prior injuries helped him get through the experience:

"It definitely helped a lot. I faced adversity like this before in my career so it was not a new place for me to be. I knew the world was not over when it happened. I was figuring out more and more about the injury. I knew it was not the end of the world. It definitely helped me prepare myself for the next upcoming weeks, getting back ready to play and just sitting out. It is tough when you are hurt and when you are just sitting out watching. That definitely helped prepare me for those past five weeks." 

On if he felt he was having a strong training camp prior to the injury:

"Yeah, I felt like I was having a pretty good camp, and it was just beginning. That was definitely a big part of the reason why I was very upset about the injury. It is what it is. It is all part of football. It is part of the game. I am sitting here counting my blessings yesterday watching the games seeing a lot of players have been some big time injuries yesterday during the games. I feel blessed that I am able to be back out there and practice." 

On if his lacerated liver was more pain or discomfort:

"It was discomfort. It was just very uncomfortable. It was very uncomfortable. Like I said, I could not really breathe. I could not really breathe, and it was long. It was kind of a long time where I was kind of just trying to get my breath back to normal. My stomach felt full. I felt like I had drank a lot of water or something like that. I was just like yeah, something is going on inside of my body. I thought I cracked my rib or something, which I had never done before. I just felt something was a little off."

On the number of Browns DBs who sustained injuries during a short stretch of training camp:

"It was crazy, especially just with all of the COVID stuff going on. We have not played football in so long then we hop out there and then one guy goes down, the next guy goes down, next guy goes down. It was just kind of a whirlwind of what just happened? Next thing you know, you blink and here I am right now. Like I said, I am excited to be back. I feel blessed to be back healthy. I am so excited to be a part of this team and getting to work, continuing to work."

On the boost of CB Greedy Williams and him potentially returning this week:

"We were just talking about when we get back we have to bring that energy and really try and be the best that we can be to help our team in any way we can. I definitely say we are licking our chops to get back out there on that field."

On if he is worried about getting back on the field and something may become an issue his liver:

"No, and that is the one thing that just going through the process that all the doctors informed me is that once the wound is healed up, it is healed up. It is not like a hamstring that lingers or any type of injury that lingers on. My liver is healed up 100 percent, and I feel normal. I feel like I did right before I injured it."

On if he thinks he could potentially play Sunday:

"All that stuff is up to the coaches. You will have to ask (Head) Coach (Kevin Stefanski) about that."

On if he will have to wear any extra padding to protect his liver:

"No, nothing."

On if the lack of a full offseason program has anything to do with the myriad of injuries suffered across the league yesterday:

"It is hard to say. I do not think so. I think that a lot of the injuries I saw were just kind of freak injuries. I saw one DB on the Ravens (Tavon Young), he was defending a pass and his leg got hit while he was in the air and landed on it awkwardly. I did not see (NY Giants RB) Saquon Barkley or (49ers DE) Nick Bosa's, but it is just the game of football. Sometimes unfortunately, a lot of this crazy stuff happens out there, like me lacerating my liver. You would think, how? Those things tend to happen on the football field, and it is just a matter of being prepared, preparing yourself the best way you can and going out there and taking advantage of your opportunities."

LB Mack Wilson:

On his emotions returning to practice following his knee injury during training camp:

"Even when I went down that day, I was just thinking to myself, 'Why me?' I thought I was going to be done for the season with all the pain I was feeling. I constantly started praying when I got on the cart just to get back good news after I have my MRI and things like that. I have been working extremely hard every day with treatment and doing all of the right things so that I can come back. They were saying possibly six to eight weeks so I was just telling myself every day, 'I am a warrior. I am built for this. I know I will be back sooner than six to eight weeks.' That was my goal to take it one day at a time and do everything they told me to do, and now, I am here today." 

On how he felt in practice today and if he expects to play Sunday:

"I felt great. As far as me playing, that will be up to the coaches. That is their decision. I am just going to continue to take it one day at a time, let them evaluate me as I practice and things like that. We are just building up every day." 

On the Browns defense during the first two games and what he can bring to the team:

"We have been playing pretty solid. We have been leaving plays on the field, obviously. We just have to eliminate the mistakes and correct those things week by week. As far as for our room, I would be talking to the guys and telling them, 'We have to make more plays in this room.' I feel like everybody else – the D line, DBs – they are making plays, and I have just been telling (LB) B.J. Goodson, Taki (LB Sione Takitaki) and (LB) Malcolm (Smith), 'We have to make plays.' I feel like as far as me coming back, I am going to definitely try to bring some juice and do whatever I can to work my way back to playing and things like that. We will see how it goes." 

On his emotions after his tackle that resulted in RB Nick Chubb sustaining a concussion and then personally sustaining a knee injury the next day of practice:

"It was really tough. For me to make a bad decision with tackling Chubb when we should not be tackling, I felt like it was karma, honestly, with me going back the next day and getting hurt. I did not really use it as karma. I did not really think to myself, 'This is karma on me.' I just left it all up to God and feel like God makes no mistakes. He is setting me up for the future with what I am going through right now. I just stayed positive about it and just kept my head held high. I was just praying constantly that nothing was really bad and I could make my way back this season." 

On if it was helpful that Chubb did not hold anything against him following the hit:

"Oh, yeah, definitely. I know Chubb is a hard-nosed player so I know he really did not get mad about it or anything like that. I made a poor decision by just tackling him anyway. I felt like I was out of control a little bit, and it happened. Chubb just put it as it is football. I just moved on from it, talked to Chubb and told him, 'It was nothing personal. I was not trying to hurt you. I am just here and tying to get better.'" 

On the impact of CB Greedy Williams, CB Kevin Johnson and him potentially returning to the defense:

"I think it will be a huge spark to have all three of us back. We have guys that filled in for us, and I feel like they have been doing a great job. As a whole, we have to do better, but like I said, getting off the field on third down, eliminating mistakes and just playing within the gameplan and trusting each other. We are going to see how everything goes, and all three of us will just continue to work every day and let (Head) Coach (Kevin Stefanski) and them evaluate us and see what we are going to do about this week." 

On his comfort level with his knee and if he is worried about potentially reinjuring it:

"I am comfortable. I am confident. If it was up to me, I would tell coach play me regardless and I am good, if it was my decision. Obviously, it is going to be all on coach and ownership. I feel I am comfortable. I can do everything that I thought I could do. Just have to continue to take it one day at a time and just go from there. I feel like I am ready." 

On if he realized his injury was not as bad as initially expected when he tweeted 'See y'all soon':

"Definitely. I just saw the progression every day, and I knew that I would be back in no time. It has been a long five weeks, I feel like. Like I said, I did everything in my power to come back. I have been rehabbing. I have just been putting in a lot of time with just trying to get knee better and get back used to walking straight because I had my brace on and it kind of stopped me from straightening my leg so my bones could heal and things like that. I just try my best to stay on top of everything and making sure that I stay off my leg and let this thing heal."

On if the second opinion on his knee injury agreed that he did not need surgery and if that made him feel better about the situation:

"Oh yeah, of course. I got a second opinion, and they both agreed that I probably will not have to have surgery. They gave me like 10-11 days to see if the swelling will go down. It was like maybe the sixth day and the doctor had said he had never seen anything like it as far as my healing process. The swelling was going down pretty fast. I want to say, like maybe the 10th day after I injured it, I was able to do like single-leg balance, I did like a single-leg squat and things like that. and he was impressed. I just told him, 'I am working hard every day to get back out there.' That is what I have been doing."

On if his tackle of Chubb that resulted in a sustained concussion was due to his desire to set a tone for the Browns LBs:

"Not really. Like I said, it is nothing personal. We all are here for a reason. We all have a job. I was just practicing hard, and I was just amped up to have pads on and things like that. Like I always tell myself, I am a leader no matter what. Obviously, yes, I want to set the tone for this team and for this defense and try to bring that juice every day, but I have to be smart with my decisions. Leaders do not do things like that. I had to reevaluate myself and really just sit down and talk to myself, and then I got hurt so it was even worse. I just try my best to stay positive, and that is what I did."

On S Ronnie Harrison Jr. and T Jedrick Wills Jr.:

"As far as Ronnie, when we got him, I instantly hit him up and was like, 'When you get her, let me know if you need help with the playbook or anything like that because I am pretty comfortable in the playbook, and I will help you learn that as fast as you can because I feel like you can help us as a defense.' He brings a bit of a play style to the DB room. I feel like he can do a lot. He is one of those guys who plays very hard, who is smart, who can blitz, who can cover and who can tackle. He can do it all, basically. He brings juice to the defense. As far as Jed, I feel like he has been doing a great job, like I thought he would when we drafted him. Jed obviously did a tremendous job at Alabama with protecting (Dolphins QB) Tua (Tagovailoa), (Eagles QB) Jalen (Hurts) and guys like that. Just being able to see him these first two games, I am not impressed because those are things he is supposed to do and those things are what I have been seeing him do ever since college. He has been doing a great job. I am happy for him. I just want him to keep going every day, going up against guys like (DE) Myles (Garrett) OV (DE Olivier Vernon), (DE) Adrian Clayborn and guys like that, (DE) Porter (Gustin). He has been doing a great job. Jed is going to be a great player in this organization for a good time and going to be a great player in the NFL for a long time. Just have to keep a level-head and just not let anything get to him. Do not let any distractions get to him. Just know that I am always there for him, no matter what.

On if the number of significant injuries across the NFL yesterday made him more grateful to return to practice today:

"Definitely. I was just checking Twitter every now and then and saw Adam (Schefter) tweeting out all these guys that are getting hurt. I was heartbroken for them because I got injured in August. For these guys to be going down and these great guys that are leaders on their team and guys that their organization needs, it is tough. I constantly pray for those guys because you do not want to see anybody go down with injuries, especially season-ending injuries. I just pray that those guys get back soon, heal the right way and just take advantage of their time being away from football and really just focus on life, get to know yourself more and things like that. It is tough. It is what we signed up for, though, and this is our job. You have to expect things, freak accidents to happen. Just prayers out for those guys, though."

CB Greedy Williams:

On his process since sustaining his shoulder injury:

"It has just been nothing much. A lot of hospital appointments just trying to see know what is really going on with the shoulder. More than anything, I have just been rehabbing, staying in shape, doing a lot of conditioning work, lifting and things like that. Just keeping the body ready whenever I am available" 

On if it felt good to return to practice today:

"It felt great. I had a lot of energy with these guys. Just being out there and having the helmet on next to your brothers is always a great feeling." 

On how he sustained his shoulder injury:

"I am just going to let (Head) Coach (Kevin Stefanski) tell. It was just a hard hit and things did not come back how I wanted to so they pulled me and I have been doing testing and things like that." 

On if he expects to play Sunday and what he can bring to the defense when he ultimately returns:

"Right now, just going to doc and coach and believing what they are telling me about playing time and when I get back. For me, I am just more focused on my recovery, and the rehab process is my motive right now." 

On the potential for LB Mack Wilson, CB Kevin Johnson and him to return to the defense, given other players have stepped in while they were out:

"That just comes with believing in your teammates. I believe in my teammates 100 percent. Without me, Mack and Kevin out there, I feel like they can get the job done because they have to have that mindset that when one goes down the next steps up and do the same. We hold each other to high standards. Like I said, things like that can be fixed, like technique work, busted coverages and things like that. We are just screwing it down week by week. We are trying to be the best on Sunday, every Sunday." 

On if his shoulder injury will be in the back of his mind when he gets back on the field:

"When you think about an injury, that is when [an injury] normally happens. Obviously, when they released me, it is nothing about the injury. I am full-go. Just trying to do whatever to make the team win. Obviously, if they let me back out there, I will be 100 percent so there will be nothing to really nag. I will probably just have to wear a brace or something just to make sure I do not reinjure it. My mindset, I am just going out there to do what I do." 

On if he expected to miss this much time when he first sustained the shoulder injury:

"No because this was the first time it ever happened. Just going to the doctors appointments, trying to figure out the time frame and trying to just know when I am back out there. That has kind of been where I have been." 

On if he is ready to help change the impression that the Browns will be in an offensive shootout every week, given the team has given up 30 points in back-to-back games:

"We do not really listen to the outside noise. We just play football, trust the gameplan and do what we do. We have to hold opponents to less than 30 points a game. That is something that we have been working on, watching a lot of film, coming together as a unit and drilling that into our minds." 

On if the Browns defense has a ways to go with building cohesiveness as players return from injuries in a new defensive system:

"Like I said, one down the next man steps up. That is kind of how we go about this process. That is just believing in your teammates and always having trust. I feel like if one guy goes down, the next man steps up and does the same job." 

On his offseason work to elevate his game to the next level and how the injury impacted his trajectory:

"Getting injured is just one of the most depressing things ever because you are not out there with the team, you are not traveling with the team, you are always in the training room and you are rehabbing. It is a bad feeling to get injured and you can't do certain things that you love. I put in all that hard work and now I have to sit back and miss two games. There is a lot of stuff that goes through your mind when you are injured. It gives you enough time to sit back and think. That is why I am happy to be back out on the field. I feel like I am free. I feel like I am able to do what I love, and that will just give me an opportunity to get back out there and run with my teammates. It is an amazing feeling."

On if he reflected on other players season-ending injuries, including S Grant Delpit, when doing his rehab and felt grateful he will have the chance to return:

"Yes ma'am. I keep Grant in high spirits. It will get to him a little bit so I keep him in high spirit. I always call him. We be on the games a lot together. Just letting him know, we have next year, baby. Like I said, I am one of the guys just to call a guy and keep him in high spirits. Obviously, I have been in his situation last year. I know how down you can be to yourself. Like I told Grant, 'Just keep staying level-headed. You will be back out here next year.'"

On if he feels he will be competing with CB Terrance Mitchell for a starting CB spot when he returns or if he will continue to view it as competing with himself to be as best as he can be:

"May the best man win. Whoever the coaches feel like be the guy on the field, that is the guy on the field. Like I said, I am always competing with myself. I do not think about the next man, who is in this or who is in that. I always competed with myself my whole life, and it got me this far. I am kind of going to stick with it. Just competing with myself and believing in the coaches that they will put the best players on the field."

On if having CB Kevin Johnson and LB Mack Wilson return to practice can bring a boost to the defense:

"For sure. We have a great chance either way. We have a great chance. We have a great defense coordinator (Joe Woods) who put us in great position to make plays. Like I said, just follow the gameplan week by week and being one unit, being in the defense being one unit, and we all are going out to perform at a high level."

On Johnson showed in practice prior to his lacerated liver:

"He is an aggressive corner. He attacks the ball. Quick footwork. He is a small guy, but he plays like he is a big guy. You definitely want guys like that – attacking the ball, willing to make tackles, deflecting the ball. He is a playmaker. Definitely, he showed me a lot of that."

On if criticism of his tackling prior to the NFL Draft has motivated him during his career:

"Going through the draft and the interview process that we do, they talked about the tackling stuff. I always told them whenever I get the opportunity to tackle, you will see me tackle. Like I showed them, it was an opportunity that I had to make tackles and I made them. Like I told them, I am willing to tackle. I am an aggressive guy. Just me just being who I am and doing what I love to do makes me this type of way. I enjoy tackling. It is a great feeling."

DE Porter Gustin:

On how his 2020 season is different from last year:

"It is different in a lot of ways. For one, I got to spend camp with this team and this group so that is different. Last year, coming in halfway, there were guys injured and I was learning a completely new defense and there were six games left. It was a different feel. It was a completely different feel. Starting out fresh, starting off throughout camp, being able to earn the trust of my teammates or the coaches and be able to work my way into the rotation and kind of show these coaches what I have and what I have to offer so in that way, it is different." 

On his relationship with DE Adrian Clayborn and Clayborn helping him after practices:

"Yeah, anytime I can especially take the time to be one on one with a guy like that, a vet that has been in the league forever and been there done that and had the sacks and he has a lot of knowledge, anytime I can do that, I take that opportunity and be able to take it in, ask questions and learn from him. He stays after practice to get some work in so I take that opportunity and I try to learn. He has definitely helped me with some things technique-wise and just sharing some knowledge so that has been great." 

On his emotions playing Thursday night and playing a significant number of snaps with DE Olivier Vernon inactive and DE Adrian Clayborn leaving the game with an injury:

"Going in as a backup not really knowing how many plays you are going to get –the game before I got 10 or 11 snaps – so going in as a backup, it is definitely a different feel. The preparation is different and you get a lot less reps in practice, things like that. You can take that two ways. You can kind of see it as I am not going to play and not really prepare like a starter or you can see it how I have been seeing it where I know I may only get a few reps during the game, and if that is the case, then I have no room for error because if I go in and mess it up, the coaches are going to be reluctant to put me in again. In that sense, it has kind of changed my perspective, and if anything, probably helped motivate me to prepare more just knowing that I am on a short leash, and if I go in, there is absolutely no room for error. Coming into the game, I was still very prepared. I kind of had that mindset. I knew OV was down. Anything can happen in this league. Somebody could get hurt and go down just like what happened on Thursday and you are the next man up. Anything can happen. You have to be prepared and be ready to take on anything." 

On if he believes he could have caused the fumble if DE Myles Garrett had not gotten there first:

"I would like to think so (laughter)." 

On the confidence built through his performance during training camp and the opportunity to learn from Garrett and Vernon:

"Yeah, it certainly gave me confidence going against the ones coming out there and knowing that it is a new coaching staff and they have not really seen what you can do or been able to evaluate you in a practice setting. Going out there, you give it your all, and when you get an opportunity to go with the ones, you have to make plays. You just have to. It is what you have to do in this league to stay here and to earn a spot. It was good to get out there, make a few plays and show my teammates and coaches that I can go out there and compete with the ones and make plays out there. It was good." 

On how he prepared during the offseason:

"First off, it was a different offseason, obviously. The thing is everybody did not have the same training routine and access to what we usually have. It kind of evens out the playing field coming in. Nobody really got the same preparation and the same routine in offseason. I kind of took that and decided to see it as a positive to where I know that everybody is working alone and everybody has limited resources so it is really going to come down to effort, what you are willing to do and how much you are willing to go out and find a way to make it happen. That is kind of what I did. Luckily, Utah, where I live, did not shut down everything as much as a lot of states did. The local gym stayed open, and I was able to train at the high school and do some of those things. I had pretty good access to what I needed. I just stayed the course and just worked – worked my drills, worked on what I needed to work on, my weaknesses and just put my head down and worked throughout the offseason. Got proper rest and did what I needed to. That is how I prepared for it, and that is really all you can do."

On if he took satisfaction with playing a role in Garrett's strip-sack of Bengals QB Joe Burrow:

"It definitely brought some satisfaction. What it really did is it gave our team the momentum and it gave us energy. And as far as that play went, it does not work one without the other. If Myles did not do what he did in the game that we ran, then I do not come free. If I did not do what I did and entertain the tackle like I did and occupy him, then maybe Myles does not come free. Working together on that is what made that happened. We ran it well. We executed. We have done it in practice so it was nice to be able to get out there and do it in game setting and be able to hit the quarterback. I have not been able to do that since last season. We do not get to do that in practice so it is good to do that. It is definitely satisfying. [Burrow] came back out firing, stayed strong and was able to make plays. He did not seem too rattled up, but I like to think it got him thinking a little bit, a little worried."

On how he kept his spirits up after being undrafted and spending time with the Saints' and Browns' practice squads before joining the Browns' active roster:

"It was tough. Going to the draft and you look at your stats and your numbers and you are pretty confident you are going to be drafted and then going undrafted and then going to the Saints and switching positions and getting kind of mixed around a little bit into a different position, things do not go very smoothly, and then you are out for a while. I just kept working. That is really what I know and what I go to. I was pretty confident that a team would come around, although, it took quite a while. I had a couple of workouts with teams so that kind of helped reassure that teams were looking at me and evaluating me. Just kept working and made the necessary changes that I needed to because I moved from an outside linebacker to a defensive end. I know I needed to put on weight, and I did not have the time to do it in New Orleans because they changed my position last second so I was really light. I knew I needed to change that so I did, and I worked on the things that I saw I needed to work on throughout camp. I learned a lot from camp in New Orleans and really focused on that while I was out. That is kind of how I stayed occupied, just knowing that I would have another opportunity when I needed to and I needed to be ready. I needed to practice my weaknesses and mistakes that I have made."

On T Jedrick Wills Jr.'s performance in his first two games, given he competed against Wills in training camp, as well as Garrett and Vernon:

"He has done great. I have not had time to sit down and evaluate and watch the offense, but I have during gameday, and I have heard the stats a little bit on how well he has doing. It is great. He has done great, and I think he has come a long way from the beginning of camp until the end. He is out there going against a lot of good pass rushers, and sometimes it does not go his way, but that is how it always is, especially for a rookie coming out here. It is tough. I think he has gotten better from it, learned from it and been able to step it up and come out and do really well on gameday, so it is great."

On if the coaching and personnel departments' focus on Wills helped shed light on his performance, as well:

"Yeah, I think so. As a competitor, you always want to go against somebody else that, like you said, has the spotlight or is proven to be a really good player just so you can be able to show what you have against a proven player. You go out and do it against a player that does not have the spotlight or is not as skilled, then it is easy to kind of blow off and be like 'Well, the competition you were going against was not very good.' When you can go against somebody that is similar to Wills' position, anytime you can do that, it is definitely a positive."

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