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Mike Pettine press conference - 12/30

Opening statement:

"We talked in the team meeting about finishing the season right, our guys being competitive and putting forth a great effort. We saw a good amount of that these last couple weeks, especially against Kansas City. I don't have to worry about the issue of a drop off in intensity because it is Steelers week. It is a special week for us. I know the intensity level will be high. You cherish the opportunity to compete against a division rival.

"They are playing well. They obviously have a lot to play for. The quarterback (Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger) is playing at an elite level. The receiving group is among the best, if not the best, depth wise in the league. (Steelers WR) Antonio Brown might not just be the best receiver in football but the best overall player. He is having a special season. We will certainly have our hands full there.

"Defensively, they are consistent, doing some good thing things. (Steelers LB Lawrence) Timmons and (Steelers LB Ryan) Shazier are as solid of an inside pair that we will go against.

"On the injury front, I will start with (QB) Johnny (Manziel) – he came in this morning complaining of concussion-like symptoms. We will obviously take every precaution with that. We sent him to see the doctors, which is our normal procedure. I know he took a pretty good shot in the game. We also had a similar circumstance with (DB) Tramon (Williams). Sometimes guys don't feel great after and think it will go away, and when it doesn't, certainly need to bring it up. Again, we will take the very conservative approach with it. We are waiting to see where that ends up, whether or not (Manziel) will be in the protocol. I am not sure where it will end up, but talking to our medical people, you have to be smart, looking out for a player's best interest. We will see how it plays out. If he does not go, then obviously, (QB) Austin (Davis) will be the starter. Then, we are in the process now, we will know by the end of the day whether or not we would sign – we have to wait to hear the news on Johnny and then the ripple effect from that, whether we would go with (WR Terrelle) Pryor as the two or sign a two. All that is to be determined.

"As far as the other guys on the injury report, (WR) Travis (Benjamin) with the ankle, (LB) Karlos (Dansby) with the toe, (OL) Joe Thomas' knee, (RB Raheem) Mostert ankle will not practice today. Hope to get them back later in the week and be available for the game. Tramon, (RB) Glenn Winston and (WR) Marlon (Moore) are already in the protocol so they will not practice today."

On Manziel taking big hits on two specific plays and if one of those may have caused his symptoms:

"I think so. There were a bunch. The one that I just remember where fortunately it was right in front of us, it was a first down so they were resetting the chains. You had a little bit of time because he was right in front of us, and I know our guys looked at him and felt that he was OK. I remember that one because it was literally right in front of me."

On if the number of concussions sustained this year is high compared to other teams:

"I don't know where it compares to the rest of the league and where that would put us. I would assume near the top. Off the top of my head, it seems like a high number. You have to look at each one individually. You have to take that approach. If the symptoms are there, the league has a protocol that you follow, and they stay in it until they are cleared to come out of it. Until we get a chance in the offseason to study all of them individually – I know the number has been high here in Cleveland even going back a couple years, that was pointed out in a report not too long ago that – our training staff is already looking at those and pulling individual clips. Hopefully, we will have better answers as to the why as the offseason moves on."

On if he watched the recent Manziel video and his response:

"I did, and I unfortunately did not get a chance to talk to him. At some point this week when he is back in the building, I will get a chance to talk to him about it. I know he was at home. He was at home on his day off. As far as the judgement of it getting out there, I question that. Other than that, this is not similar to the circumstances that involved [the bye week video and response]. Going back to there, that was more trust and accountability than it was necessarily the act. I will have a conversation with him at the first time that I can."

On if Manziel will start Sunday if cleared:

"If he's cleared and good to go, Yes."

On if there is a sense of urgency to find a backup QB, given number of injured QBs across the NFL:

"Yeah, absolutely. We don't have the results yet. We don't know yet about Johnny, but if you listen real close, you can probably hear the activity upstairs of trying to find a guy."

On if Manziel's concussion-like symptoms supports the idea that it is risky to not remain in the pocket and run 10-12 times:

"I think it goes back to the point that we've made about that is that we don't want it to be 10-12. Every quarterback, it's going to be a certain number. For the guys that are mobile, you want it to be three or four because those can be some big plays in your favor. A lot of teams are producing yards and first downs and points with their quarterback's ability to run. You don't have to look past the team that has the best record in the league, Carolina. Every quarterback has their style, but I just think you need to minimize the number of time that it happens because when it does happen, as we see the result, its high risk, but it is also high reward."

On if WR Terrelle Pryor will take reps at QB in practice today:

"Yes. He will take some today."

On game planning for Steelers WR Antonio Brown:

"We'll see if we can play with 12, sneak an extra guy out there (laughter). He just jumps off the tape. You have to find ways; you have to get creative. They're doing a good job of not just lining him up at one spot so it's hard to gear a coverage. A lot of times if a team has a great player and he's always an X and he's always on the weak side of the formation and he's on the line of scrimmage where you can get your hands on him, it's a lot easier to double those bigger receivers on the outside. Where they do a good job and one of the reasons he's having so much success is they put him all over. They line him up at No. 1 to the passing strength, No. 1 to the weak side. They'll put him in the slot and they'll line him up in the backfield and motion him out one way or another looking for a matchup. They do a good job just getting him the ball in a variety of ways. He catches a bunch of screens underneath. Some of that is part of their run game – loaded box, they're going to bang it out to him. He just has that uncanny ability of making, not only is he making the first guy miss but he's making up to two guys miss a play. You hope that you can contain him and present some looks where maybe they don't want to go towards him, but you watch some of the film when he's double covered, the ball is still going there anyway and he's still making plays. He's just kind of in that zone, and the quarterback is smart enough to know, 'I'm just going to go ahead and throw in his direction, and more than likely, a good thing is going to happen.'

On who will play CB if DB Tramon Williams is still in concussion protocol:

"(DB Justin) Gilbert, (DB Pierre) Desir, (DB Charles) Gaines, (DB) K'Waun (Williams) and (DB Johnson) Bademosi, if Tramon more than likely can't go. The other guy that has taken some reps there is Gip (DB Tashaun Gipson). He's cross-trained as a corner. From a numbers standpoint, we feel we're OK."

On a timeline for Manziel's evaluation:

"Within the next couple of hours, we should have some information on it."

On if Manziel has played enough this season to fully evaluate his play:

"Yeah, I don't know what the total game count ended up or whether you count that Jets game as a full game – he played most of it, three quarters of it. It is a good chunk. It is a lot of film to go back and evaluate."

On if Manziel has a concussion or is being evaluated for a concussion:

"He is being evaluated for it. The symptoms of it, it is looking that way, but I haven't received definitive word that 'Yes, it is a concussion, and yes, he is in the protocol.'"

On if he can elaborate on Manziel's symptoms:

"No, I wasn't in there. I just know (head athletic trainer) Joe Sheehan was in a rush. He just said, 'symptoms' so I don't have specifics."

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