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Mike Pettine press conference - 11/3

On if the Browns made trades before the deadline:


On if the Browns were close to making any trades:

"I'll let (General Manager) Ray (Farmer) talk about it. I wasn't involved. I was in gameplan meetings."

On an update on QB Josh McCown:

"He'll do some limited work today. We'll see where he is. I know he's sore, but the way that we're practicing, he'll be able to get some work. It'll be similar to last week where we were prepared to go with Josh or (QB) Johnny (Manziel)."

On reports that the decision has been made for the Browns to start Manziel on Thursday:

"No, it has not. We'll see where Josh is today and see where he is tomorrow. As the information becomes available, we'll act on it."

On if McCown's rib injury makes it more difficult to gauge if he'll be ready for the game, compared to the shoulder last week:

"That's difficult to answer because that'll really be on him. We'll rely heavily on his feedback."

On Manziel being more prepared to start now compared to last year:

"Just think a lot of grounds been covered. He's a different player. I think we saw that this year when he had to go into the Jets game. I thought he did some good things, made some mistakes, put the ball on the ground then had a week of preparation to get ready to Tennessee and went out and executed a gameplan. I just think we've all seen it from going back to the amount of work in the spring to training camp. When the rush became live, I think that's where you saw that he made his biggest improvement with his demeanor in the pocket. That it wasn't as frenetic, that his feet were calm. I just think he has a really good understanding of what we're doing, understands the plays, what's designed for what. If I get pressure, I know I'm working this side, if I get zone I'm going to work a high-low against this defender. Also, gathering all of that information – what coverage am I getting? Is this Cover 1? Are they bringing weak-side pressure? Do I need to work with (OL) Alex (Mack) to adjust? All the intricate details, he has a much better grasp of and it's shown when he's been out there."

On if the run game struggles can be fixed in-season:

"When things aren't going as planned or as designed, you're constantly looking for the answers. There's a lot of different ways to run the football. I know we got into some Wildcat stuff last week and had a run or two that hit with it. I think you're constantly striving to find that mix of what do we do well, what can we apply to ourselves, and then what has hurt this team we're playing. Are they susceptible to a trap scheme? Are they susceptible to somebody turning the corner and tossing the ball? What's hurt this team? You're looking for that intersection between what do we do, what are we capable of doing and what has affected this team."

On if the Browns will wait until gameday to decide who will start at QB:

"From a mentality standpoint, they're both taking the mentality that they're going to be the starter. Just given the unique nature of this week, essentially it's a lot of walkthrough stuff so to have a guy out there, you can really work two guys as far as the huddle. We'll see where Josh is tonight. As we get information that helps us make a decision and we feel comfortable acting on it, we'll do it."

On adjusting the RB rotation this week with two WRs currently in the concussion protocol:

"That's something we discuss each week from a planning standpoint, whether the plan calls for it. With our issues potentially at receiver this week, getting (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.) a little bit more involved in the pass game, I think that's something we came out of Sunday knowing that he can do some damage out of the backfield or even split out as a wide out. His reps might have to lean a little bit more that way. The back rotation is something we discuss each week."

On addressing trade rumors with Browns players:

"The stuff that's out there, how it gets out – it was unfortunate that the stuff would get put out when it got put out on gameday. All that does is just add to the adversity that you have to deal with as a team, the equivalent of throwing a grenade in the locker room. You have guys that are focused trying to get ready for a game and somebody is going to put out a report about players potentially being shopped and how that spread. It's disappointing that it happens, but I get it that it's a part of the business. We talk about when things aren't going the way you want them to go – I addressed this after the Rams game – it adds up to it's the adversity that we deal with, and it's something that we don't have control over. It's a good test of mental toughness and professionalism and all that. It's not easy when you talk to those guys and know that or you see a comment like (OL) Joe Thomas – he's a Brown; wants to stay a Brown. Alex Mack, the feeling is mutual with Alex. We love having him here and don't want to see him go."

On being comfortable with four active WRs or if the Browns need to add one:

"It has been discussed. We haven't finalized who is up. We have a pretty good idea. Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) knows the skill group that he has to work with."

On if McCown's injuries complicate Thursday's gameplan because QB Austin Davis would have to be prepared to be the backup QB, if McCown is unable to play:

"Austin – this is one of the reasons he is here and one of the reasons did what we did with him from a contractual standpoint – is outstanding with his preparation. He is as involved with the gameplan, interaction with the coaching staff and interaction with the other quarterbacks taking the mental reps behind that we feel very confident if Austin did have to get in the game just because of the way he prepares himself. We tell that room as we tell all of our players but quarterback especially prepare as if you are the starter. He takes a lot of those reps. He has a good eye for breaking down opponent defenses, what routes have worked, giving us feedback. 'When I was in St. Louis, we did this and this.' He is into it. On a short week like this, from a coaching standpoint, I don't want to say we scale back what we do, but our gameplans are more what we consider to be best hits. It is stuff that we know is Day 1 install. Whether it is base formation and plays, stuff that we know we might not get a quality rep of this week or certainly a full speed rep of it, stuff that we have run and are comfortable with and we would be very confident in Austin if he did have to get in the game."

On imagining life without OL Joe Thomas:

"I have a hard enough time dealing in reality. That is a complete hypothetical. What does he mean? You talk about the Cleveland Browns and that is usually the first name you think of. He is one of the best players I have ever coached. From a personal standpoint, one of my favorite guys I have been around. On the field, off the field, he has been outstanding for us."

On if he would be consulted before a trade:


On if General Manager Ray Farmer operated independently with trades:

"No, not at all."

On why the Cincinnati Bengals are better this year, particularly QB Andy Dalton:

"When you look at it, they are a year more comfortable in their system. They are doing some good things. They have for the most part stayed healthy. I think they have a good one-two punch at running back. I know the receivers had some injuries last year, but those guys are all playing and playing at a high level. The tight end, (Bengals TE Tyler) Eifert, I think he had some injury issues last year. He gives them that added threat in the middle of the field. I think it still comes back to the play of the quarterback. He seems much more comfortable in what they are doing. He is very decisive with his reads and when he throws the ball, he has been accurate. When you are evaluating quarterbacks, right up there at the top of the list is accuracy. That is one thing that jumps off the tape is that is he throwing the ball much more accurate this year than maybe he was a year ago."

On if the Browns will rely on WR Dwayne Bowe extensively with two WRs currently in the concussion protocol:

"Yeah, with (WR) Brian (Hartline) likely out, he and (WR) Marlon (Moore) will have an increased role."

On if the Browns' struggles in the running game affect the starting QB decision:

"No, it doesn't factor in. If the training staff and Josh feel that he can play, that means he can play. What we don't want to do is get in a situation where Flip's play calls have to change based on the health of a player. That would be an easy deciding factor. 'Hey we are not going to go in there and say if Josh is playing, then we have to run the ball 70 percent of the time to protect him.' You can't operate that way."

On if Bengals DT Geno Atkins complicates strategy if Manziel starts due Atkins' rushing style and their internal pressure:

"That is the strength of their defense. I think that entire front four is playing extremely well. It is going to be a big challenge for our guys. Whether it is Josh or Johnny in there, if we want them to play well, we have to play well around them. I have said that all year and you are probably sick of hearing it. The support has to be there and that is one of the reasons the Bengals are where they are because they are playing great complementary football. Defensively, they are getting it done with four and playing well behind those guys. We know if we want to have any success offensively it is going to be to control that four-down front, whether it is in the run game or in pass protection."

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