Press Conference

Kevin Stefanski: 'The perfect game has not been played yet'

Cleveland's head coach meets with reporters Wednesday of Cowboys week

Opening statement: 

"This week – I am sure you got the injury update – we will not have (G) Joel (Bitonio), AC (DE Adrian Clayborn), (LB) Tae Davis, (RB) Kareem Hunt or (CB) Denzel (Ward) out there today during practice. We will monitor those guys obviously throughout the week as this goes. 

"Big challenge this week going down to Dallas and playing a really good football team. They are well coached. Having coached against (Cowboys Head Coach) Mike McCarthy for many years there in Green Bay, he does a great job, I think, all sides of the ball for them. Offensively, they have very, very good players really across the board. It starts with (Cowboys QB) Dak Prescott, who I have a ton of respect for. He does a great job in that system and that scheme. They have multiple guys they can spread the ball around to, a big offensive line. Really a big challenge for us. Their defense, I think it is a very, very impressive unit. Up front, they have some very challenging edge rushers. Good players in the back end. They are very deep in the back end. They roll different guys in there. A linebacker corps that can really run. Then special teams, (Cowboys special teams coordinator) Coach (John) Fassel does a great job. You have to be on your toes with him. He is known to fake almost each and every game, and they do a great job. Looking forward to the challenge, and have to have a great week of preparation before we get on that airplane." 

On if CB Greedy Williams will be ready to play on Sunday: 

"We are not sure yet. Just kind of see how the how he progresses each day. Kind of take it one day at a time and then see where we are by the end of the week." 

On confirming that Williams and DE Olivier Vernon are expected to practice today and if Bitonio and Hunt are day to day: 

"[Nods head yes to Williams and Vernon being expected to practice.] Yeah, day to day is the best way to characterize it." 

On if Ward aggravated his injury from Sunday or if it is more a precautionary measure for Ward not to practice today: 

"I would not say he aggravated it. I think it is just something that we have to be mindful about and are going to give him a day here and then reconvene tomorrow and see what we can do with him." 

On if seeing what the Titans are experiencing with coronavirus cases in their organization has inspired him to readdress it with the team, despite his continual focus on the topic: 

"It is certainly sobering to see what is going on. I remind the team often about it, and we talked about it again this morning, but we did not need a reminder, quite honestly. We are very well aware that that thing is out there. We are doing everything in our power when we are in this building and when we are not building to be smart, be diligent and do the things that will keep us safe." 

On if this game will be special for QB Baker Mayfield, given Mayfield is returning to Texas: 

"I was in the quarterback room this morning, and I have three quarterbacks going back to Texas with (QB) Case (Keenum) and (QB) Garrett (Gilbert). I think those guys understand it is a business trip. Honestly, with the protocols as they are you, you can't see friends and family anyway. You see a lot of the hotel. 

On if there is a benefit to being able to coach Mayfield hard and offer lessons after wins, given Mayfield has been critical of his own play and how to improve: 

"Honestly, you can go up and down the entire roster by position, and I can give you plays that I want our players to do better on specific things. I know I can be better. The perfect game has not played yet. Whether it is a win or a loss, we just have to have that mindset that we are learning from each rep and how we can improve the next game." 

On if signing RB Dontrell Hilliard to the active roster was a reaction to Hunt's or WR JoJo Natson's injury: 

"It is kind of looking at the roster in total. Dontrell has done a very nice job for us in all the looks that he has been doing so. He is a versatile football player so I would say it is more a reflection of Dontrell than anything else." 

On a report that holding calls are down across the NFL this season and if that is apparent when watching game film: 

"I saw that report also. Nothing glaring has jumped out at me on the tape, but the numbers are what they are so it does look like they are down." 

On what he likes most from Mayfield's performance so far this season and what Mayfield can improve most, given Mayfield cited distributing the ball across the field and to personnel and capitalizing on big play opportunities, respectively: 

"I think it is hard to single one guy out, especially three games into this thing. We will look at the whole body of work here as the season goes on. He is doing a nice job for us. You mentioned, he is spreading the ball around. We feel like we have multiple guys that that can be productive on any given day, and I think when we spread it around like that, that is a function of him being smart with the ball and taking what is there. In terms of capitalizing on big moments, that goes without saying. I think all offenses are looking for those explosive plays." 

On his stance on playing surfaces across the NFL, given C JC Tretter's letter addressing field turf compared to grass fields: 

"I know my areas of expertise, and playing surface is not one of them." 

On Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: 

"Dak is a special player, and he has talent around him. The wide receivers just come out of everywhere. They are all explosive. They are all dynamic with the ball. It is a really smart scheme that they use, and have not even mentioned (Cowboys RB) Ezekiel Elliott, who is a premier running back. They are able to be multiple in what they do. It is very impressive. (Cowboys offensive coordinator) Kellen Moore does a very nice job." 

On if Hilliard being signed to the active roster means that WR Donovan Peoples-Jones will not return kicks on Sunday:

"I would not say that. I think we have to see how the week goes."

On what Peoples-Jones has shown during training camp and the first three weeks of the season:

"He has done a nice job. I think he has grown as a football player. I think he works extremely hard at understanding what he has to do on each given play. He does a great job in the scout team looks up to this point. Just keep bringing him along."

On how much of an impact G Wyatt Teller is making when serving as a pulling G in the running game:

"I think we want to be talking about multiplicity and being versatile. That is kind of what we talk about. We do not want to get ever in a place where the defense knows what we are doing and what we are featuring in a given week. The ability like you mentioned to pull a guard, pull a tackle or toss the ball or wide zone or tight zone, I think having multiplicity really is beneficial in your attack."

On what makes Teller so good at serving as a pulling G:

"He is a big, physical guy and runs well. When you get on the edges as those guards do, you have to make quick decisions and then you have to run through contact. I think he does a nice job."

On DT Larry Ogunjobi's performance through the first three weeks and Ogunjobi continuing to fly under the radar, given DE Myles Garrett's performance:

"It does not fly under the radar for me. You always notice No. 65 when he is out there. He plays with quickness, plays with power, plays hard and gives great effort. Pleased with where Larry is right now."

On confidence that the Browns offense can compete in a back-and-forth shootout with Dallas if the game goes that direction, given the Browns' run game success in recent weeks:

"We understand the challenge that is in front of us, and I think specifically for our offense, they just need to finish each drive with seven in any which way you can do it."

On Prescott's ability to tuck the ball and run with it:

"Any time you play a quarterback that has that threat to their game, it is a big deal. Our guys in their coverages have to be very aware of that. Our rush lanes have to be pure. He is a talented football player, and being able to tuck it and run is a huge part of that."

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