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Mike Pettine press conference - 10/22

On Browns that may return to practice today:

"(LB) Craig (Robertson), I think, is going to do some individual work. We'll have a better sense of where he is. I know Gip (DB Tashaun Gipson) is close, too, but Craig, we should get for some of the actual body of practice."

On if any of the returning players will be active on Sunday:

"Possible. Today will be a big indicator. I would say Craig is probably closer than Gip, but I wouldn't rule out either one of them."

On gauging progress with players in the concussion protocol, including DB Joe Haden:

"It's hard because those tests, they take them in the room, they issue the tests and we find out long after the fact. I don't know if those are pass/fail. You hope there's improvement every day, but you get some guys that'll be symptom free for a while and then they have a set back. The protocol is strict and it's conservative, obviously, for a good reason. Anytime you're dealing with a concussion, you just have to err on the side of caution."

On if Rams DE Robert Quinn can be compared to Broncos LB Von Miller:

"It's an easy comparison just because you're looking at back-to-back weeks and a guy that's a high sack producer. I think he does a good job anticipating the snap. He's very good with his hands. He's a blend of size, power and speed. Similar to Von that if you overset him, he has the explosiveness to cross over and come underneath you or go right down the middle. His speed to bull rush is exceptional. We felt like we had a good plan in place for Von and executed it. It's not as easy as just say, 'Hey, blow the dust off of that plan and apply it to next week.' They've seen the film and know how we handled it so we'll have to change it up some. He presents a big challenge."

On how much of the success against Broncos OLB Von Miller was due to the plan or OL Mitchell Schwartz:

"It's a combination. There were times where our guys were alone without help, and they did a good job."

On Schwartz being targeted repeatedly by other teams and his top rankings by outside analysis:

"Good for Mitch. Name a right tackle that doesn't get targeted. That's the stigma of being the right tackle. We're very pleased with Mitch. He's relentless in his preparation. He does a good job in the meeting room, carries it over to the field. I know from the pecking order of what you would perceive as leaders in that room, you have (OL) Joe (Thomas) and (OL) Alex (Mack), but Mitch is right up there with those guys."

On if the Browns would like to keep Schwartz long term:

"Guy is a high producer for us, but behind the scenes, we know whose contracts are up, and that's not really my place to talk about that, especially in season."

On if he agrees with QB Josh McCown's comments that Rams DT Aaron Donald is one of the best three techniques in the league:

"I do. We have intimate knowledge, too, just because (secondary coach Jeff) Hafley and (tight ends coach Brian) Angelichio were both at Pitt when he was there. I even think Jeff was a part of his recruitment. Now, he's another guy that playing there is ideal for him to be in a dome environment on the turf. The guy has got a tremendous get-off, similar to Quinn. He's very good with his hands. He's hard to sustain blocks on. You'll make contact with him early, but he's very good just as far as being able to just quick-twitch to get your hands off of him and to be able to penetrate. He's very difficult to block back on. He gets up the field well. He's hard to reach because if you overreach him, then he'll slip underneath and be athletic enough to redirect and still make a play from the back door. It's a challenge. I thought the (Titans DE Jurrell) Casey kid from Tennessee is right up there, but you have to put Donald, in my opinion, right there at the top of the league."

On DB Pierre Desir's performance as a starter:

"He's shown that it's not too big for him. He's gone out there and he's taken what he's worked on in practice, he's got that to the field. He hasn't been intimidated. He's gone against some big name receivers. When Pierre gets in trouble sometimes, it's that he doesn't trust his technique. He is exceptional when he can get his hands on guys at the line of scrimmage. When he's had some issues, it's been a result of him not being able to do that, He knows that and understands it, but he's done a good job. When he's been in there or (DB Johnson) Bademosi has been in there, the want-to is definitely there. Those guys are very competitive and they've done a good job filling in."

On if Desir loses his technique because he did not play that way in college:

"No, I don't think so. I just think all of our guys sometimes when you get in the flow of a game every once in a while, you have some laps where you potentially fall back on some old habits. No, Pierre's very conscientious about his technique. He knows he has to trust it, and for the most part, he does. We're very pleased with the production that Pierre has given us this year."

On why it is so important for Desir to get his hands on receivers:

"Because that's the way he's built, he's that type of corner – big wingspan. I don't know exactly what his timed speed was coming out, but he's not along the lines of like a (Jets DB) Buster (Skrine) that ran so well that even if he missed, he had that make up speed. The one thing for our corners is we want to take advantage of the rule. The one rule that's really in favor of the defense is that we can get hands on in the initial 5 yards. When Pierre's done that, the receiver is essentially erased from the play. Our guys talk about, whether he is on on the scout team or whether it was during training camp, that Pierre was potentially the most difficult guy to get off of press."

On if the Browns have enough personnel on defense to dominate a game or if the outlook is just looking to push through injuries:

"We never think of it in those terms. It's who is available to us to play this week and put together a plan that we feel if we execute it to the best of our ability that we could be successful. We never think of it in terms of how you phrased it."

On how good the Browns defensive personnel is currently:

"I'm not really sure how to answer that. We're capable of playing good defense. A lot of times when we've had issues, it's been on us, whether it was a communication thing, whether it was a technical thing or whether it was an alignment thing. Those are the ones that can frustrate you. We understand teams are going to make plays against us. Even going back to Week 1, there are some balls that (Jets QB Ryan) Fitzpatrick threw that only (Jets WR) Brandon Marshall could catch, and you tip your hat and you move onto the next play. We want to eliminate the plays where we have a chance to affect it, and our batting average on those plays needs to be higher."

On DL Randy Starks' performance this season:

"Starks is doing a good job. Weave (defensive line coach Anthony Weaver) is doing a good job of rolling those guys through. He has made some splash plays for us. Given where he is in his career, we're aware of that and take care of him during the week of practice so that he can be at his peak on Sunday."

On the significance of the ripple effect of injuries at CB, given DB Joe Haden would typically be assigned to an opponent's top WR:

"It has an effect. There have been times – that's not the exclusive plan with Joe, but it's the way you would prefer it to be. We don't get into measuring that, how significant that is. It goes back to the old saying, 'You can't win with players that aren't out there.' We are full speed ahead with the guys we have, formulate the best plan that we have and put those guys into position, but we weren't just going to bump a guy up and say, 'OK, you're in the Joe Haden spot.' Joe had that skillset, that ability. He's demonstrated that time and time again to take a receiver out, and we've had to do some different things coverage-wise to compensate for it."

On if the Browns defense is playing more zone coverage due to those reasons:

"We've mixed it up. Sometimes, if you want to help a corner, it can be zone; it can also be (Cover) 2-man, where you are trailing a guy and you can play a safety over the top. Jimmy (defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil) has mixed it up."

On if former Browns DL Phil Taylor provided a specific skillset against Cincinnati last year that allowed the Browns to have their best statistical pass defense effort of 2014:

"Phil played well, but I just think overall, that was kind of a perfect storm of I thought we had an outstanding plan going in and if you look across the board, there were several guys that played at a high level. I know that there were some splash plays made there, but overall, that was 11 guys doing their job."

On what the Browns have lost with LB Craig Robertson missing games due to injury and if Robertson was playing at a high level before the injury:

"He was, and it's two-fold because as we all know, Craig brings an energy, that genuine leadership that's not out there. It's hard to do that when you are in sweats. He knows that, and I think that's a source of frustration for him, as well. From a play standpoint, he was playing pretty well."

On added competition in the RB room and the running gameplans going forward, given RB Robert Turbin is healthy:

"We like it just because of the – you guys have heard me talk about it 1,000 times – diversity of skill in that room. If you went running back continuum, I think we have a guy at each end, and I think Crow (RB Isaiah Crowell) slides somewhere in between. He brings a mentality, a passion, a competitiveness. Anybody that's talked to him, I think you realize that pretty quick how important football is to him. He did an outstanding job from when he got here until now learning what we're doing – asked a lot of questions, was out there for the walkthroughs, was very engaged in the meetings. Again, people look at that [competition] as a problem, but we see it as a good problem to have. I don't think we're going to go into a game and say, 'Hey, we want to get X number of touches to each of these guys.' Some of that will be a function of what the defense is giving us, how they want to play us, and then at the same time, Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) will have it coordinated where certain plays will be for certain backs, and he'll have those personnel groupings tagged accordingly."

On when the Browns realized WR Travis Benjamin could be leading receiver:

"We saw a lot of flashes of it a year ago. He led us in touchdown catches and made some huge plays for us. He's a guy that you wouldn't think you could give him the entire route tree, a guy who is 165 pounds soaking wet – running in-breaking routes with him, you're holding your breath. He's a tough target for defense just because of his ability to change direction, his quickness and he knows how to get down in traffic. I think what has jumped out to all of us is his ball skills. His catch radius for a guy his size is larger than you would expect. He does a nice job of tracking the ball. Some guys have a hard time tracking the long ball. He does not. For given his size, he's been more than a pleasant surprise to us."

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