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Mike Pettine press conference - 9/30

Opening statement:

"This week we see as another great opportunity for us to go on the road against a San Diego Chargers team that's in a similar situation that we are, both looking to bounce back from a loss. At first glance, what you're most impressed by is the offensive skill positions. I don't think (Chargers QB) Philip Rivers has missed a start since 2006, savvy guy, has seen it all. It's hard to fool him. I know he's well known for his preparation. That's one thing we have to be very mindful of – making sure that we're not letting him know what we're in before the snap as opposed to after. Clear difference maker there, and he's surrounded probably by the best trio of receivers that we've faced in (Chargers WRs) Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd and Stevie Johnson. A deep group, they're all very productive. I think the rookie (defensive) back (Chargers RB Melvin) Gordons playing well. (Charger RB Danny) Woodhead is a potential mismatch out of the backfield. They use him in a lot in empty in almost a wide receiver type role. We're aware of their issues up front, that they finished the game a little banged up in the offensive line. Just the way they play, I know they'll be confident they can overcome it, whether it's getting the ball out, lots of screens, running it. We'll obviously look to take advantage of it, but I wouldn't put too much weight into that, especially with a veteran quarterback.

"Defensively, they do some good things, creative stuff. I've known (Chargers defensive coordinator) John Pagano for a long time. He does an outstanding job. His guys play with high effort, high energy, intense. (Chargers DT) Cory Liuget kind of leads the front, him and (Chargers DE) Kendall Reyes. (Chargers POLB) Melvin Ingram is a guy on the edge that we have to be very well aware of. The defense is really run and kind of goes with (Chargers FS Eric) Weddle. I think he's only missed three games since his second year so he's only missed three starts. He's similar to (Raiders S Charles) Woodson in that they move him all over the place. He kind of quarterbacks the back end. If he recognizes something, I know he's very diligent with his prep. I think we have to do a good job in making sure we're not obvious in some of the things that we're trying to do. He's a guy that we have to be very aware of. I know they're a little bit banged up on the back end. We'll know more going into the end of the week, but that's not something we can focus on. This has to be about us and getting our issues cleaned up.

"On the injury front, the only guys that won't practice today are (LB) Craig Robertson, Gip (DB Tashaun Gipson), (DB) K'Waun (Williams) and then (RB Robert) Turbin and (LB Scott) Solomon remain out. Everybody else on the injury report should be going on at least a limited basis."

On if any players have expressed disagreement with starting QB Josh McCown over Johnny Manziel, given recent reports and external debate:

"No. No, and we're confident that our players know that my door is open, that their position coach's door is open, that the coordinator's door is open. We have a leadership council where there's a player in each room so there's certainly resources available. Are we going to have 1,000 percent agreement on how we're using players and how we're doing that? No, but it falls into that coaches coach and the players go out, they have their jobs to do. Are they going to have opinions? Certainly. I'm confident that there's no rift in the locker room. I think the way our players reacted signifies that. We always talk about controlling the controllables and 'external debate,' as you put it, is something that we don't control. We're confident in our plan and we'll move ahead forward with it."

On if he felt he needed to talk to the team about the TMZ story:

"We talk to the team periodically just about media policy and if you want to go on record, put your name on something. As far as multiple players being off the record, like I said, we talk to them about it but that's not something that I'm concerned with. I know it makes for good copy and clicks outside of here, but given the veterans that we have in the room and being on the inside and talking with the players constantly and getting feedback from whether it's other coaches or other players and getting a sense for the pulse of the locker room, I'm confident that this is not an issue."

On having any concerns with McCown being in 'a tough spot':

"No, there aren't too many NFL quarterbacks that are not in a 'tough spot.' It comes with the job. I think he has tremendous mental toughness. He's been in this league a long time. Whether he's personally gone through it or a quarterback that he's worked with has gone through it, I don't think he's any stranger to situations like this. I think that would be the least of our problems worrying about how Josh is handling this."

On QB Austin Davis' contract extension:

"Not going to speak specifically on contract issues. Austin, as I've been very clear with here, was a guy that we liked. A lot of times those windows will open up, sometimes at the request of the agent, and if the two sides are in agreement that there is a window of opportunity to get something done, then you move forward and get it done. The specifics of it I won't get into, but I just know that he's a player that we like his skillset, we like his mentality, we like his competitiveness, how he approaches football and felt it would be a win for us to get him signed to a longer-term contract."

On how contract situations are handled with General Manager Ray Farmer suspended:

"We have a GM in (Executive Chief of Staff) Bill Kuharich, who is in his place, who can make those decisions. We have guys – (executive vice president general counsel) Sashi Brown and (director, football administration) Chris Cooper – that can work the contracts. We don't just lock the office door to the GM and don't do anything GM related."

On if he believes three players spoke off the record to TMZ:

"I have said all I am going to say on that."

On if McCown's hand injury will limit or affect him:

"I talked to him yesterday about it. I don't think so. I think, for the most part, it will be resolved by the end of the week. I don't know if it will limit him in practice at all, but I don't think it is anything major."

On RB Duke Johnson Jr.'s development and the how it was affected by missed time in training camp:

"It was a setback. I would say that he is close. I think he is getting good reps in practice. Some of the game experience he is getting, I will get with Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) and just get a sense for. We will have a plan by the end of the week just based on how practice goes. As we continue to look at some of the areas, whether it is third down or whether it is red zone as the week goes on, just how many touches we want to get him."

On what Johnson Jr. does do that he likes and what he still needs to improve:

"I think some of the protection stuff he needs to get cleaned up. From a running standpoint, I think he is getting a better sense of what we are doing. He has a good feel for the zone scheme. He knows how to press it one gap at a time and plant his foot when he needs to. I do think he has a good feel in the pass game, leaking out the check down and getting open, presenting a quarterback-friendly target. I think we saw it in the drive at the end of the (Raiders) game – the ability to take a four-yard pass and turn it into a pretty significant gain and get out of bounds."

On the easiest fix for missed tackles:

"It is the hardest thing to practice because you just don't want to do it live, especially in season. You do some live work during training camp. You are constantly talking about it, showing more and more good examples on tape of 'Here is how to do it.' You drill as best you can without actually doing it live. You just keep pounding it as a priority."

On causes of missed tackles in the Raiders game:

"You couldn't say it was any one thing. It is something clearly alarming to be at that number and then the amount of yardage that came with it. It is something that we pride ourselves on tackling well. We feel we can get guys to the ball in a hurry and have an opportunity to minimize the gain, and we have to do that."

On if it is worrisome that DB K'Waun Williams has had multiple concussions:

"Anytime there are multiple, there is a concern. It is just unfortunate because Tennessee might have been the best game he has had as a Brown."

On how LB Christian Kirksey is playing in the nickel and how his role may change with LB Craig Robertson's injury:

"We will definitely put more on his plate. Just being a lighter guy than some of the other NFL linebackers, he needs to understand his pad level, at times, needs to be a little bit – better below delivery. You have to be lower. Overall, I think he has a good sense for what we are trying to get done. He has made plays. His reps will get up and you will probably see some of (LB) Tank (Carder) out there, as well. I like having that rotation. It is hard to make Kirksey a full-time linebacker because then you are really losing two special teamers. You lose Craig and you lose Kirksey or to some extent at least a phase or two from him. You don't want to do that. I think you can job share a little bit with Tank. Whether it is Tank, (LB) Karlos (Dansby) and Craig, we feel like we have three solid guys. Tank is a guy that has played well. He might have been one of our best defensive players in the spring. He had a good training camp for us. He is a guy we have always felt if he gets a chance to get in there and play, he is going to be productive."

On how much of a responsibility it is for him as head coach to 'pull the team up by its bootstraps':

"I used the quote earlier, 'Control the controllables.' The only thing we know how to do is not get caught up in that because that stuff can drag you down emotionally, if you start to let the past sit on your shoulders. I won't allow it to happen to myself. I won't allow it to happen to this team. We have a heck of a challenge in front of this week, and the best cure for the way things are is to go out and win. We are going to funnel all of our energy into that and jump on a plane out to San Diego and see if we can get that done."

On if the Browns will do anything different to prepare for the west coast trip:

"A wise coach once told me – we were having debates on about going on the road – he said, 'If you want to win on the road, take a damn good football team with you.' That is the easiest thing. We want to be fresh. We want to be focused. We want to be prepared. That is the best way. I don't think we are going to get ourselves out of our element. We are going to go out on Saturday. I know some teams in the past have chosen to go out for the week. I have been a part of a lot of teams that have gone out on Friday. Doing the research on it, the earlier you go out, I think the more potential negative effect it has on you the following week. We just want to treat it as it is a little bit longer of a flight, we are going to leave a little bit earlier on Saturday but stick to our routine and try to keep our meetings as close to east coast time as we normally would, not try to just get adjusted overnight and like I said, fresh, focused, prepared and go out and play. There are some little things that we will do with the trip, but other than that there is nothing major."

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