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Mike Pettine press conference - 10/29

On an update on QB Josh McCown:

"Think he'll do some limited work today and see how he is after that."

On if McCown tried to throw yesterday, as he mentioned:

"Yeah, I believe he did. I believe he took some throws."

On describing 'limited work':

"Just not his normal workload but be out there to take some of it."

On if the Browns have heard from the NFL on the investigation involving QB Johnny Manziel:

"We have not."

On if he knows when the NFL will provide more information:

"Expect it soon, but I know that like I said, they have their time table. I know there are reports out there, but we, especially from a coaching standpoint, are bunkered in, preparing for the game. When we get word, we get the word."

On if the NFL has assured him that any ruling would not come later this week if it would potentially affect the Browns' QB situation on Sunday:

"I've had no direct communications to that extent."

On what DB Joe Haden's return would mean to the Browns defense and quantifying how much the team has missed his play:

"I don't think you can quantify it, and it's not just Joe – it's nice too to have Gip (DB Tashaun Gipson) and (LB) Craig (Robertson). I think all three of them, if we do get them all back, that would be a big boost for us, Joe especially. Anytime you take a guy that is of his caliber and he's not in the lineup, it changes some things you do schematically. You don't just replace that guy, there's bound to be some form of a drop off and you try to work around it as best you can. Definitely looking forward to potentially getting all three of those guys back."

On the Browns' ability to turn the season around:

"You base it on their character, their competitiveness. You feel good about it because we know how close we are. You can sit and say, 'Hey, that's the losers lament.' You can point at everything and 'Hey, we would be this,' but that we know a lot of it is in our control and that's the part we have to work on. If we're going to be on the short end, let it be because another team just flat out-executed us. When we've played for stretches to our ability and we haven't had any self-inflicted issues, we've played well. That's what I constantly talk about: raising that level of consistency. To me, that happens with every team, but the teams that play – I said this earlier in the week – better for longer are the ones that are successful. That's what we're striving for."

On how LB Craig Robertson's return would help the defense:

"You start with just the football piece of it, the playing ability, and Craig was playing at a high level when he was out of the lineup with the injury just from that standpoint. It also has a ripple effect through your special teams. Now, you're pulling where Craig and (LB Christian) Kirksey were essentially kind of game-sharing at linebacker and then having a big role for Tabes (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor). All of a sudden, you lose Craig, Kirksey has to play more regular defense. Now, that has a ripple effect through special teams. Now, (LB) Tank (Carder) is concentrating more of his focus on the defensive part of it as opposed to being 100 percent teams so it had an effect that way. As we've all been around, Craig just knowing the personality, the passion, what he brings, it's hard to be that guy when you're in sweats and everybody else is in pads getting ready to play. He's still had a degree of that vocal leadership, but it's just hard to do when you're not out there playing with them. Looking forward to getting that aspect of it back, as well."

On how much the Browns had to scale back the gameplan with DB Joe Haden and DB Tashaun Gipson out:

"We had to change some things. We'll be able to highlight some different areas of our inventory, some of the things that we were able before t take advantage of both Joe's ability and Gip's ability."

On the Browns RBs this year:

"Very pleased with where we are in the pass game with them. I think we have made some significant strides from a year ago. Bringing in (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.), his contributions in the pass game allow us to do a lot of things, can get a lot more creative in the pass game, some things formationaly to put him in certain spots. We've all seen evidence of that. The run game has been inconsistent. Some of that's on the running backs. Some of that's a function of the guys up front, as well. Whether that's the tight ends, whether it's the offensive line, the run game doesn't just fall on the running backs. That number, that average belongs to the group. We've changed our emphasis a little bit, been a little bit outside zone and gotten into some others, whether it's inside schemes, a little bit more downhill, and there's a learning curve with that. We feel that with getting (RB) Robert (Turbin) now and having Crow (RB Isaiah Crowell) and Duke that we feel good about that room but we have to go out on the field and prove it."

On if the blocking schemes have changed from last year:

"Similar. The runs that we have in this year are essentially all the runs we had in last year. We're just calling the complementary runs at a little bit more frequency than we did a year ago."

On if changes in blocking schemes have contributed to inconsistency in the run game:

"No, I wouldn't say that. It's not been a radical departure. It's been much more subtle."

On if there are any negatives to having a RB rotation like last week:

"You look at both sides. You can talk about, 'Hey, we have guys fresh late in the game that can come in and finish a game for you or as a change of pace.' Our backs understand that they have guys waiting so a lot of times, they take themselves out if they're a little bit dinged or winded – 'Hey, I need one.' They know that they have two capable replacements there. It's not just one other guy that they're leaning on who has a specific role. To me, there are plusses and minuses to doing it both ways, but we feel we have three capable backs, and in different circumstances based on the matchup and what we're running and who we're playing, we'd want to get each of them the football."

On WR Brian Hartline's drop in numbers from the start of the season, given his chemistry McCown:

"I don't know if I have a clear cut reason or that. I think Josh has proven that he doesn't have a go-to guy. I think he's very good at understanding when a play gets installed and if it's against this coverage, this is where the ball is going – to the X or it's going to the Z or this is a ball that more than likely if they play this it's going to the tight end. I just think it's more of a product of the circumstances than it is anything where you can just say, 'Hey, Brian's play has dropped off' or Josh chooses to go somewhere else with the football."

On how to coach players to eliminate frequent penalties:

"I've been through this before, and we look at each penalty. The ones that are the most upsetting are the ones I've already mentioned, the self-inflicted ones, whether we're jumping offside. That's kind of a Catch 22 in St. Louis. You're playing in a loud environment and you want to slow them down, but if you're going on silent count or you're going on one the whole time, then you won't have any of those penalties, but you're also at a huge disadvantage because they're just teeing off. That comes with the territory of wanting to mix the cadence to keep them at bay. I thought we did a good job at home mixing the cadence on Denver, got them a couple times. The self-inflicted ones, like I said, are the most difficult ones to deal with. We have officials at practice. We give them a sense of that particular crew for that week, where their points of emphasis are heavy and it's constant education. It's something we're very aware of and we certainly want to eliminate the ones that we have control over. We get the officials report each week, and usually, we give feedback to our players. We don't use the officials report as a means to just complain, 'Why'd you call this? Why'd you call that?' It's a means of education. 'Help us coach him better. Why was this called? What can he do different?' That's how we really see it. It's something we're aware of, and we need to cut it down."

On if he advises OL Joe Thomas on the officiating crews that may call false starts more tightly:

"I don't know if we get that specific. False starts are a lot of the times very easy to call, very few of them could go either way. We really look at the subjective – those penalties of the illegal contact, holding both sides, offensive pass interference and those. We communicate with the league during the week of these are the things that we see that could potentially come up in this game that we're doing, that they're doing and make sure the crews are alerted to it, but it's a weekly process we go through."

On OL Joel Bitonio's high number of penalties this season:

"I think one reason is he's had some tough matchups if you go down the who's who of defensive tackles he's gone against and another challenge for those guys inside this week with (Cardinals DT Calais) Campbell. Each individual play has its own story, and he gets coached hard on what the technical flaws potentially were that caused the penalty, but that's not something where you just yell at him, 'Stop getting penalties'. You have to understand, like I said, each individual play tells its own story."

On if Crowell is showing less burst this season:

"I think that the answer I gave before speaking of the running backs in general would certainly apply here. I think he's done a much better job than a year ago in the pass game, understanding when to get out, his protection. I thought last year, he hung in there too long, very paranoid about 'Is my guy blitzing?' as opposed to triggering and getting out and getting himself at a quarterback friendly angle or at least get in his vision so he can see him. He's made some plays for us in the pass game, and in the run game, he's been inconsistent. I think some games he's hit it and he's gotten what it was blocked for, and then he's missed some runs."

On what DL Xavier Cooper has done to maintain his snap count:

"He's done his job. It's that simple. He's a guy that's earned the trust. It's nice when you have and you go through the debate now at the end of the week. When we had guys injured, it was real easy to have six defensive linemen up. Usually, the minimum is five and the sixth is the luxury. When that sixth was Coop, he's played well enough to at least be in that argument – 'OK, this week, it's down to are we going to carry four safeties? Are we going to carry the sixth d-lineman?' All of those position arguments come up, and he's done a good job of making that a tough decision."

On if the Browns have the physical attitude and toughness needed to stop the run:

"I think we are. The physicality stuff shows up in a lot of different fashions. There are times when I don't like how we get pushed back up front, and there are other times where we play well. It's a consistency thing, but from an attitude standpoint, I know our guys are competitive and I rarely see one of our players turn down contact so I don't question our toughness."

On if he compartmentalizes the season into quarters or halves and values of that approach:

"I've always been of the mindset to be more week-to-week compartmentalizing. I think as coaches, you don't get it necessarily in with the players so much, but the coaches, you look at it from terms of self-scout. You usually do at least some form of self-scout every week but a bigger one is usually done quarterly. I don't look at it as necessarily and I don't make a lot of decisions based on 'OK, what have we done this quarter? What do we have coming up?' You always look ahead to the schedule a little bit. For us, it's unique – I talked about this earlier, actually last week – just the circumstances we have three games in 12 days. We have the two quick ones coming up. Then, we'll go 24 days and only have one game. That will give us an opportunity as coaches, get the players out of the building, get them some time off and really be introspective – 'Here's where we are and here's what needs to be changed. Here's what we're doing well and we need to stick to it.'"

On if good interior defensive players are harder to find than other positions:

"If you ask most NFL personnel people and you're ranking positions by importance, I think from a defensive line standpoint, pass rush ability has to be an element first. You're looking for elite pass rushers on the edge. Inside guys, I don't think the pass rush part of it is as important, but if you find the rare guy that can rush the passer and be a dominant run stopper, then those are the guys you're going to see that are going in the first five picks. It's a big part of it, but every team is different as far as where the priorities are as far as players, but I think you have to have, in my opinion, in all position rooms – I've used this term a lot or this phrase a lot – diversity of skill. You just can't have cookie-cutter, the same type of player because then you're going to run up against some type of scheme that will be able to take advantage of that and that'll be a bad week for you. I think you need to have flexibility to do some different thing with the guys in that room."

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