1) Paul Kruger is wise. The 28-year-old veteran has seen the ultimate high in the NFL – winning a Super Bowl – and the lows of a 4-12 season that ended with his first-year head coach fired. When he speaks, it comes with experience.
2) Without even being aware of what coach Mike Pettine said earlier in his press conference about building a foundation and creating a culture, Kruger nearly reiterated the stance word-for-word. There have been enough encouraging signs in 2014 to truly believe the Browns can use a strong finish to the season as a springboard in 2015.
3) "I think we've shown to ourselves and to others that we have the ability to play at a high level and to beat good teams," Kruger said. "Now moving forward, it's how do we put that together on a weekly basis? It's a lot more tricky than people realize. It's something we are in here every day working on."
4) Kruger said the Browns are expecting to see Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who "looks like a defensive end out there" but they'll also watch film on former Brown Derek Anderson. Newton missed last week's game because of injuries he suffered in a car accident. Kruger will look to add to his 10 sacks regardless of who is standing in the pocket.
5) Absolutely loved what Pettine had to say about Bernie Kosar's critical comments toward the organization on a local radio program in Cleveland: Where was this when the Browns were 7-4?
6) "He's entitled to his opinion, but being here on the inside of it and seeing what we're building and seeing the interaction we have between Jimmy Haslam and Ray Farmer and Alec Scheiner and myself – the commitment is all there for us to successful," Pettine said. "Obstacles are being removed for us to be successful, and I'm very encouraged about the future here, very encouraged. I'd be the last one to tell you that the odds are stacked against us to be successful because of management. That couldn't be further from the truth."
7) Although we suggested using more shotgun on offense earlier in the week, Pettine said at this point of the season the Browns won't be reinventing the wheel on offense. Cleveland will keep its identity as a running football team that looks to minimize the quarterback's impact on the game, a formula that had the Browns sitting atop the AFC North just one month ago. It's all about execution. The coaches and players believe they can still win using this formula.
8) New kicker Garrett Hartley met with the Cleveland media for the first time. In a beanie hat and flowing long hair, Hartley, even as laid back as he looked, couldn't temper the eagerness he has to be a Brown.
9) "Just excited about the opportunity I have here," Hartley said. "Ultimately, my job doesn't change. It's going out there, helping my team win, putting up points when called upon and that's what we are going to do."
10) The Saints released Hartley in December 2013 after the kicker missed two field goals against the Rams. Hartley spent six seasons in New Orleans and worked out for several teams in 2014 with no avail. Hartley stayed busy with a few business endeavors, including a reality TV show on the The Sportsman Channel called Southern Chaos, which follows Hartley around on hunting trips. When he wasn't working on his TV career, Harley maintained his kicking practice at local high schools. He flew into Cleveland last Tuesday for a workout and got a call Friday morning with a contract offer.
11) Quote of the day from coach Mike Pettine: "There's no better feeling than winning … we need to get that feeling back."
- Although he was pretty upbeat he could suit up against the Panthers, safety Tashaun Gipson did not practice Wednesday and Pettine said he will be evaluated later in the week.
- Joe Haden missed practice Wednesday, too, as did fellow cornerback K'Waun Williams. If they both were to miss the game, rookies Pierre Desir and Justin Gilbert would play vital roles as outside cornerbacks with Buster Skrine shifting inside on nickel packages.
- The good news: Karlos Dansby told ClevelandBrowns.com the improvement in his knee has been "markedly better." Some media members have suggested the Browns shut down Dansby for the rest of the season to avoid further injury. Try telling that to Dansby, whose coaches say would play football for free if he had to. The veteran linebacker practiced Wednesday and is counting down the hours until Sunday for his hopeful return.
- Down in Charlotte, Newton was listed as limited in the Panthers' Wednesday practice. Coach Ron Rivera hopes to finalize his plans at quarterback by Friday.