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Mike Pettine conference call - 11/2

Opening statement:

"As I said yesterday, it is a very quick turnaround. Players were in this morning for a flush workout and meetings to wrap up the Cardinals game. They will be back later, late this afternoon to begin our Cincinnati prep. It is essentially our same schedule that we kept last year for the Thursday night game. Part of that was turning the page quickly and getting to work on an undefeated team.

"The game yesterday was certainly a tale of two halves. We were able to play in stretches as the team we think we can be. It was largely in the first half and then we all saw the result in the second half. It is frustrating because we feel that we are capable of being more consistent, and it didn't play out that way. As I said earlier in the week, we need to be better for longer. Some of our issues had been in the first half of games. It is just something we will continue to address and to work on. Thursday gives us a great opportunity to change that as we enter the second half of the season.

"I don't have much of an update on injuries at this point. I have been in the film room. We will file an injury report later today."

On defining 'healthy enough to play' in regards to QB Josh McCown:

"Josh is sore. It is difficult this week, just given that it is a short week. He'll be day-to-day. We will know a lot more when we get into tomorrow and into Wednesday."

On McCown's X-ray results on his ribs:

"I am not going to get into specifics. We will see how he is the next couple of days."

On if it is time to light a fire under the Browns players and coaches, given the team's 2-6 record:

"We have been at that point. I think we have gotten to that point already. To me, each week, especially when you don't get the result that you want that you need to reassess and if that sense of urgency needs to get ramped up. I think you need to walk that fine line between doing something wholesale and radically different, especially knowing a lot of games we have been close to getting the result that we wanted. Like I challenged everyone last week – dealing with adversity, being introspective – what can I do different this week? We had some guys step up and have better performances, and we fell short in some other areas."

On if the team Browns need to 'go into a bunker' due to the team's record and trade rumors:

"Unfortunately, the way things are that bunker doesn't exist. They are all exposed to it. That is just something we will address with the team, having that type of mentality and knowing that when things don't go well, this is what happens. An overreaction to losses or an overreaction to our current state and having confidence in what we are doing and knowing that we need to incrementally improve and do more of the little things right, and we will get the results that we want."

On the Browns struggling in the running game:

"It is a variety of things. We have not run the ball well consistently. We have hit some big runs but haven't consistently run the ball. When you talk about having some issues on offense, that is part of the formula. You have to win on early downs running the ball to avoid third-and-long. We have done a nice job at times on third down, and we have had to overcome some longer yardages and that is not acceptable. That is the challenge to the guys up front, that is the challenge to the backs, that is a challenge to the tight ends and everybody involved in the run game. We cannot be one dimensional. If we are more of a pass team than a run team so be it, but to me, you can't live at an extreme end of either spectrum."

On the challenge facing the undefeated Bengals in a short week, particularly given injuries to McCown, DB Joe Haden and DB Donte Whitner:

"It is a huge challenge. I have a feeling a lot of people outside of this building aren't going to give them much of a chance. To me, that is the beauty of sports. We get to go down there and play. Just like last year, similar circumstances and we went down there and played one of our best games. We know that when our minds are right and we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and playing at a high level emotionally and physically that we can play with anybody. We have to go down there with that mentality."

On if WR Andrew Hawkins is still in the concussion protocol and if DB Jordan Poyer be able to play Thursday:

"Don't know that yet. Hawkins is still in the protocol. Not sure yet about Poyer. We will file an injury report later today."

On if the Browns need get RB Duke Johnson Jr. more carries:

"Duke is a guy who has showed he can do some damage with the football. I think that is on us as a staff to find more creative ways to get him the football, whether that is in the run game or whether that's in the pass game. He is showing to be the guy we thought he was. I would agree with that. We need to get him the ball more."

On DB Johnson Bademosi getting more playing time than DB Pierre Desir after Haden left the game:

"Bade was already up in a package where he was playing. The fact that he was already up and involved in the game and into it, that was an easier transition for us to just extend him into taking Haden's reps. Then, we brought Pierre in to take some of the package stuff."

On if the Cardinals focus on Johnson contributed to why the Browns offense shied away from him in the second half:

"No, I just think it was the way the game flowed. I never felt like there was a point in time in the second half where 'Hey, We can't go to Duke anymore.'"

On if last year's game against Cincinnati is still relevant:

"I just think having gone through the Thursday schedule, the short-week schedule and then going down there and playing well, the guys that were here that should give them some confidence. From a preparation standpoint, I thought we went down there very fresh and focused and it showed up on the field. I think you can carry that over, but from a team standpoint, they're doing some different things, we are as well. From a football standpoint enough has changed so I think you can put some stock in it but not much."

On if Haden and Whitner are ruled out for Thursday:

"Once they're in the concussion protocol, it would be difficult [to play]. I'm not going to sit here and rule them out as we speak but they are in the protocol. I think it would be extremely difficult for them to be cleared in time to play on a Thursday."

On DB Ibraheim Campbell filling in for Whitner:

"IC has done some good things for us. He does a great job in practice, whether he's playing scout safety, special teams. He's done a real nice job for Tabes (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) all year. We were confident that given the opportunity, that he would show up and make some plays. That was good to see yesterday. I think his physicality is one thing that sticks out when he's out there. I thought he made some real nice tackles in space. He's not afraid to stick it in there."

On WR Brian Hartline having two TD catches but also multiple drops:

"Nobody is harder, nobody critiques themselves more than Brian. He was upset with the drops. I was happy for him certainly with the two touchdowns. I thought he ran two great routes, and I thought Josh did an outstanding job of getting the ball to him, especially the one where they went max blitz and he just back peddled and threw it to his spot. I thought Brian did a great job understanding the route and getting to where he was supposed to be, and the ball found him."

On external perceptions that the Browns won't play QB Johnny Manziel no matter what and why not activate QB Austin Davis, if true:

"I'm not really sure of the line of questioning. To me, [Manziel is] our backup. When our starter was hurt against the Jets, he came in and I thought for the most part did a good job, given that fact that he hadn't gotten a ton of reps. Then, he did a good job preparing the following week and went out and played well. Again, part of that is maybe my own being bunkered in. I don't really get too wrapped up in what the outside perception is of our quarterback room. I just know Josh McCown has done a great job for us. I think somebody told me yesterday we had more passing yards the first half of the year or the first seven games, whenever it was, then any other team in Browns history. He's doing a good job playing the position. We feel good about where Johnny is and the direction that he's headed. Those are just our circumstances."

On ever having a player sustain two concussions in three weeks like Haden:

"I can't recall one off the top of my head."

On being concerned with Haden's multiple concussions in a short stretch:

"Anytime the concussions come up, it's always concerning to a coaching staff, always. You do everything you can to help prevent them, and I think the league has done an outstanding job in recent years with recognizing the importance. That's why they developed a protocol and that's why I think it's very cautious with getting guys back."

On confidence in his decision to leave McCown in the game after reviewing the game film:

"Yeah, I had a conversation with Josh today. Like I said before, if a guy is suspected of having an injury, I think our medical staff does a good job of checking them out, making sure they're cleared to go back in. Our players all know that if there's ever a situation where they know that they can't continue that they should go down and get medical attention. Just looking at that sequence of plays, I still feel the way that I felt yesterday."

On if McCown will practice tomorrow:

"Everything that we're doing this week is essentially a walkthrough/jog-through. Other than the guys that are in the concussion protocol, we'll expect all our guys to be out at practice. We'll know more tonight and more heading into tomorrow."

On if Browns players lacked focus in the game due to trade rumors circulating before kickoff and if he addressed the team:

"No, these guys are professionals. I didn't notice any lack of focus because of some rumor that came out the morning of the game. We have not had a team meeting yet so I'll likely say something in tonight's meeting. I just think it's a function of when you get close to the trade deadline and things aren't going well, people outside the building want to put two and two together and float stuff out there. I feel the same way about it. Part of being in the situation that we're in is dealing with adversity, and this is just part of it."

On NFL teams playing younger players more late in seasons in order to evaluate players, understanding that the Browns are not yet at that point:

"I think you take each week as it comes. I think you answered the question: we're not at that point. To me, it's a valid question. Like I said, when we get to each week and especially with some time off coming up, we'll certainly hit the reset button and see where we are. Each week brings a new challenge, a new set of circumstances. We're just not ready to say we're at that point yet."

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