Press Conference

Kevin Stefanski: 'Maximize each play and make sure that you are finishing with sevens'

Cleveland's head coach, assistants meet with reporters Friday before the Cowboys game

On how RB Kareem Hunt looked in his return to practice: 

"He looked pretty good. He is working through it. We have to be mindful of what he can do, and we will see over the next couple of hours how he responds." 

On if WR Odell Beckham Jr. is back to normal after being listed on yesterday's injury report: 

"Yeah, he just had an episode, I would say. He practiced full. He is good to go." 

On if he has a feel for if G Joel Bitonio's and CB Denzel Ward's will be able to play on Sunday: 

"I think they are both pushing through it. We limited their reps today. Kind of make the decision as we get down there." 

On CB Greedy Williams' return from injury taking longer than potentially expected: 

"I do not have that medical degree to really dive into it. We are just trying to take it each day and then learn more information and see how he is feeling. I wish I could explain it in greater detail, other than to say he is doing a great job. He is fighting his butt off to get out there. We are just trying to make sure we are making prudent decisions." 

On if surgery has been ruled out for Williams: 

"I could not even speak on it because I do not want to speculate necessarily, but he is doing everything right. He is trying like crazy to get out there." 

On the importance getting off to a fast start against a high-scoring team like the Cowboys, understanding a fast start is always a goal: 

"I think it is just always important. We spend a lot of time talking about starting fast. Even out here in practice, that first period you have to go fast and you have to start competing right away. That will always be a focus for us, really regardless of opponent." 

On the Cowboys expecting Cowboys T Tyron Smith to play and the impact Smith could have on the game: 

"Like you said, a big impact. A big person. A great player. We have our work cut out for us already, and then you add him, he is a really good football player and has done it for a long time. Obviously, if he can play and he can go, we have to be ready to go." 

On S Ronnie Harrison Jr. helping a stranded driver change a tire last week: 

"That was awesome. Proud of Ronnie for doing that. He did not do it looking to get any publicity for it. He did not tell anybody, but the gentleman that he helped out wanted to make it known what Ronnie did and how impactful that was. I think it is awesome. Proud of Ronnie. I think we have a lot of guys here that would do the same. I would stop, but I would not know how to change a tire (laughter)." 

On how he was impacted by hearing what Harrison's kind act: 

"I just think we are so mindful of our part in this community and being part of this community in Northeast Ohio. It struck me on the human level how important it is to get out there in the community and help each other out. Again, well done by Ronnie." 

On Harrison returning to practice today: 

"Yeah, he is good to go. He was out there practicing." 

On who the Browns punt and kick returners will be on Sunday: 

"I do not think we are going to announce it, but we feel good about where we are going." 

On DE Myles Garrett's leadership and demeanor this season as Garrett prepares for a homecoming game this Sunday: 

"I am excited for him going back home like you said. He is a very good football player as evidenced by us wanting him to be here for a very long time. From the minute he has been out there, just his physical skillset out at you, and he has developed, at least from what I have known of Myles. He is a leader of this football team. The guys listen when he speaks. He works hard. I think he leads by example and then he also knows when it is time to lead by speaking up. He has done a great job in that avenue, as well." 

On the Cowboys offense playing fast and if that creates a greater need for the Browns offense to slow it down and control possession more than usual: 

"I think you have to be who you are on offense, and that is who they are and they go fast. Similarly, we like to play at a nice clip. While we may not be no-huddle the entire game, you want to make sure that you are playing at the pace that you desire. This week, maybe we will go no-huddle the whole game or maybe we will huddle and wait until there is one second on the play clock. I think you just have to be true to what your gameplan calls for." 

On if the Browns enter a game with an optimal number of possessions in mind: 

"I do not think. No, I think you go into it and want to maximize each play and make sure that you are finishing with sevens."

Pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach Jeff Howard:

On if the Browns are expecting a shootout with the Cowboys, given their offensive potential: 

"They are a very talented team. I think they have some good pieces. They have obviously been able to move the ball well at the beginning of the season. Leading the league in points, yardage and all that stuff. It is going to be a challenge for us and we know that going into it, but we are excited for the challenge. That is what we have been talking about all week." 

On if S Ronnie Harrison Jr. is progressing and closer to being able to contribute more regularly on defense: 

"Yeah, it has been great to get Ronnie here. What I think about Ronnie is you can tell he really loves football. He has been a winner. He knows how to win with his time in Alabama. What is striking to me is how much effort and time he puts into his craft, and it is meaningful to him. We are going to continue to work with him and kind of work with that piece week to week to week, but I am encouraged with his development and glad he is here." 

On working through various injuries to DBs since the start of training camp: 

"Right, it has been a little bit unique going into it with all those guys facing all those problems. We really have just been trying to work with it day by day, trying to put the guys in situations that they can be successful in and using them practicing whenever we can and just having that next man up mentality. I think the group as a whole is extremely competitive, which is the environment that I hope to foster within them in that when we get our chances and when we get our opportunities, we need to go out there and be successful and be productive. Whoever is playing, I think, has really bought into that. We need to continue to improve, but I am encouraged that we are getting some of those guys back." 

On CB Terrance Mitchell's performance with CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams working through injuries: 

"Terrance has done a really good job start the season and really taken the opportunity that he has had and made the most of it, which I really love. I am excited about his development and how he has been doing. It has been helpful for the group to have an experienced guy that can go in there. It is really good for all the younger guys to see just the way he has performed, the way he studies and the way he is focused. He uses those opportunities on the field, and when they go at him, he has done a good job for the most part of holding up." 

On the challenges Cowboys QB Dak Prescott presents: 

"Just watching, I played Dak a few times back in back in 2016 and last year in Minnesota. He is a very good operator. He stands back there in the pocket and is able to deliver the ball to all parts of the field. It is not just inside the numbers. He is as good as anybody I have seen at throwing the ball to the field outside the numbers or to the boundary. He sees the picture very well, can decipher coverages and then puts the ball into tight spaces. I think Dak Prescott is a good quarterback." 

On the key to defending Cowboys WR Amari Cooper: 

"I think the challenge that Dallas poses is that they march out really three really good receivers in Amari and (Cowboys WR) CeeDee Lamb, and even last week with the emergence of (Cowboys WR) Cedrick Wilson making all those catches. I think the group helps him, and they distribute the ball so it is not like he has to go out and make every catch. They do a nice job of that. He is a good receiver. He does a good job of getting in and out of his routes. He is good at the line of scrimmage against press coverage. He does present a challenge on all parts of the field. You look at his route tree, he runs a lot of different concepts and does it pretty well." 

On the Browns in retrospect would have preferred to not play Ward last week: 

"I thought Denzel came in and fought, and that is something that I really give him a lot of credit for. That is something that as we talk about our culture and how we want to do things, we understand that our roles and each and every individual's role is important for the success of each other. I feel like Denzel understands that, and it is important to him. I feel like that is probably why he came out and played, and I thought he did a good job. I appreciated the effort that he came out and played with. I thought he played well for his time in the field." 

On the Browns celebrating interceptions as a team last week: 

"We encourage our guys to celebrate together. From Pop Warner to high school to college to the NFL, I feel like football is fun. When you have the opportunity when good things happen, I feel like you should celebrate those successes with one another. I feel like that is a sign of a team that is focused on the right things. If you see teams that are not celebrating with one another, you kind of question what are their intentions and how close is that group. I was extremely excited to see those guys celebrate with one another." 

On expectations for CB Kevin Johnson this week and Johnson's potential matchup with Lamb: 

"Things have not gone the way that Kevin was hoping with his start and obviously the freak injury. We have been slowly trying to incorporate him into our plan. I think he is understanding conceptually what we are trying to do on defense, as well as the schemes and techniques that we are trying to ask him to do. I think practice is important. I do not know how everybody feels about that, but practice is important, and getting those reps in has been really good for him. It is hard when you do not have an offseason and you do not have training camp to be thrown in those situations, but I thought his performance for what he has been through as far as practice has been good, and I am excited for where he is going."

Pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea:

On how the success in the run game affects what the Browns do in the pass game: 

"I think it is very beneficial when you run the ball as well as we have and have had success in that area. It only benefits the pass game. That is the way I think that when you talk about playing team football on offense and the ability to run the ball, it all starts with that so it is beneficial." 

On WR Odell Beckham Jr. being a full participant in today's practice after being listed on yesterday's injury report: 

"Odell when he is on the practice field, he works really hard. He had another good day in his preparation today on the field. I really look forward to him being out there on Sunday contributing to us as a team." 

On WR Donovan Peoples-Jones: 

"Donovan has made progress every day he has been here. He really has embraced everything we have asked of him. He has worked extremely hard. He has worked extremely hard in learning the playbook. He is somebody that takes a lot of pride in that area. Once he has been on the field, he has really been somebody that has worked hard and improved every day. I look forward to continuing to coach him. He has definitely made some progress for us." 

On who can step in and fill a similar role as WR JoJo Natson on offense: 

"Every week is different as far as the way you approach the gameplan and who you utilize. JoJo did a great job for us in some areas that were strengths as far as his skillset. I think it is our job as coaches now to identify maybe different ways to go about things. I do not think any player is exactly the same so to say that we can replace JoJo with another player and do the same exact things that we did with JoJo. I think it is just a matter of us as a coaching staff of finding ways to be successful and utilize the guys we have in maybe different ways and in different roles than we used JoJo." 

On WR KhaDarel Hodge: 

"KhaDarel is a very dependable player for us. I know we have a lot of trust in him. The quarterback trusts that he is going to do the right thing. He works extremely hard. He studies hard. He is outstanding in his preparation. I will say that has been the case for our group this year. They have all approached it that way. Their preparation has been good. We have talked to them a lot about putting the team first, and I would say Hodge definitely falls in that category, and I would say I feel like our group falls in that category of we are putting the team first, whether it is doing some things in the run game blocking or playing maybe in different roles than what they expected to play. I think that is what is most important is that we put the team first, and KhaDarel is somebody that definitely I think is being in that category." 

On WR Jarvis Landry playing in his 100th consecutive NFL game on Sunday:

"I think it is awesome. I have a lot of respect for Jarvis and the way he prepares and the way he plays the game. He is highly competitive. He is so passionate when he is on the field. He is a very instinctive player, and I do not think it is an accident that he is playing in his 100th game. He has done a great job this year. I give him a lot of credit of coming off a surgery and working extremely hard to be out there on the field and to be able to compete. Again, he is playing in his 100th game, and I believe that there is a reason behind that. One of the reasons is that he is driven, he is competitive and he is very passionate about this game that we are playing here."

On WR Rashard Higgins and what Higgins has to do to get on the field:

"Rashard Higgins has been outstanding in all areas. He has worked extremely hard. He is playing in multiple positions for us on the practice field. He has been very professional in everything that he has done with us. I enjoy coaching him. I enjoy having him in the room with us. I know that the other players, whether it is the receiver position or other positions, have respect for him. I certainly think that he has done a lot of great things. Unfortunately because of some of the issues you have on a gameday roster and so many people being active or inactive, there are always decisions to make and what is best for the team. I am encouraged by Higgins. I am glad he is here, and I am glad I have the opportunity to coach him." 

On the Cowboys pass defense:

"Every week is very different when you look at the opponent, and there are certainly challenges that we have this week. It is a team that is, like we all are, we are trying to play without preseason and do some things schematically to see who we are. I think a lot of these guys. I really do. I have a lot of respect for them. I think they play well together. Regardless of what their scheme is, I think they have done a good job of playing with a lot of effort, but certainly, it will be a challenge for us this week versus Dallas' team."

On if the Browns WRs spend extra time to work on blocking:

"Blocking is something that we definitely have approached and taken a lot of pride in here, not just because we run the ball well in this first part of the season but it is something that I strongly believe in. It should be an identity of our receivers here at the Browns is that we are going to commit to the running game and play very well with tremendous effort in that area. I think that our guys have taken a lot of pride in it. I think at the receiver position, nothing shows your commitment more to the team and your willingness to help the team in this area. If we go out there and play with great effort in the run game and have a great attitude towards our role in that area, it really displays that we are committed to the team and that we embrace the team concept. I feel like our guys have done that. With receivers by nature, would they like to catch as many balls as they can? Absolutely, and I would want them to be competitive and wanting the ball as much as they can, but they know what is most important is we are always going to put the team first in all of our decisions we make as a coaching staff and what we do, and they know blocking is a big part of our success and the expectation for us to go out there and block with a great effort and do our job in the run game. I certainly take a lot of pride in the way our guys have approached this area of the game."

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