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Training Camp

Mike Pettine Press Conference - July 29

Opening statement:
"Obviously, this is always an exciting day for us. It's great to see the guys all back in the building. We're excited about getting on the field tomorrow. For us, training camp signifies something, an opportunity to get back to get tunnel vision on football and continue the process of building and improving the team. That's really going to be our theme this year is it's concentrated football. With all the talk that surrounds it, whether that's talk coming from us to external, the theme for this year is going to be 'words into action'. A lot of stuff gets put out there and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves when we talk about it, but the theme this year is to have that continue on to the field. We have a lot of work to do and we have a plan for how we're going to implement it and for how can hit our peak when we go down in September to play the Jets.

"Defensively, Very high standards. We talk about goals and objectives. The 'potential' word has been used a lot of how good we can be. I believe in our players, I believe in our scheme and believe in our coaches, but we need to put that work in to make sure that that potential turns into real results on the field. Obviously, our coaches and players understand that.

"Offensively, it's about building an identity. I thought we did an outstanding job in the spring of teaching and implementing what we're going to do. Talking to Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) and looking back through the installation, that's well over 90 percent of what we'll run in the fall was put in in the spring. The only thing that remains are a handful of new concepts and a lot of our special situations that we did not get a chance to practice in the spring, the goal line and the short guarded stuff, stuff you don't want to practice when you don't have pads on. I was very pleased with the progress we made, but the next step is to circle back and implement that installation in pads, real football as we like to say. I am very pleased with the plan and where we are, but I know that there is a lot of work to get done between now and the opener.

"Special teams front. we were obviously very pleased to add (P) Andy Lee, and we got a glimpse in the spring of what he's all about. Obviously, the kicking battle we have shaping up between (K) Carey (Spear) and (K) Travis (Coons). We're looking forward to putting those guys in some pressure situations and seeing how they respond.

"On the injury front – I did talk about this a little bit earlier – we are very encouraged by the progress of our guys that are coming off of injuries. We are going to be very smart about how we handle it. Some of the guys will be out there, but we're very aware of their pitch count and we'll have them on a limited basis of how we work them in. We do have the two drafted rookies that are going to start on PUP: (DB) Ifo (Ekpre-Olomu) and (TE Randall) Telfer. They're not going to be participating in training camp. We knew this was the case when they were drafted. Ifo was highly unlikely to be available this season. We know that that is a long recovery for him. Telfer has made good progress, and the date we're thinking there is around midseason. We'll get that window to evaluate him and see where he is. Very confident in both those guys' recovery just because of how hard they have worked so far, their character and how they have approached it.

"Other than that, it's just the excitement that we're all sensing. As I said, it's concentrated football for us. We get a chance now to wake up in the morning and it's an all-day thing. We really look at this as an opportunity for the Cleveland Browns to get better."

On if he has an expectation for the Browns record this season:
"No. 1-0. I know it's a coaching cliché, but I've never been one to want to throw out numbers. Successful seasons come in all shapes and sizes. Like any other team, we're confident that if things fall right we can be right there in the discussion at the end. When we were sitting at 7-4 and had battled to get to that point – unfortunately things didn't finish the way that we wanted – but there's no reason to think that we can't be in that conversation at the end of the year this year."

On the conditioning test and the decision to close to the media:
"Haven't had it yet. It will be later this afternoon. I talked about subtle tweaks to training camp, that's one of them (laughter). We discussed it organizationally, the benefits and the negatives to it, and it was just something we decided this year not to do. You'll know [who passed] from who is NFI, who didn't make it that we decided to hold back. That should be if not today, first thing tomorrow."

On whether all players reported to training camp:
"We're still in the window that there are guys coming in. I haven't heard of anyone who called ahead and said 'Hey, I'm not coming in.' We're expecting everyone here."

On whether rookies, injured vets and QBs took and passed their conditioning tests:
'Yes. There were a couple of guys that we felt were at risk – the lineman that we signed (OL Erle Ladson), the Delaware kid – who we felt  like we didn't have him to really get a good evaluation; some of the guys that were at risk that we would've held them out and put in an extra running program as opposed to 'Oh hey, welcome to Cleveland. Jump out here and run the test.' The guys that are running the test are the guys that were here all spring, that got a chance to know what it is and prepare for it. There will be some guys that will be off to the side. (OL) Armonty (Bryant) and (OL) Phil (Taylor) are not going to run it. We'll ease them in; they'll be in an extra conditioning group. Some of the guys that we would feel will be at risk, we'll go ahead and hold them out."

On which position group is most competitive:
"I don't know if I can pinpoint just one. I think that's one of the things where we feel we're in a good place that we generated a lot of competition at a lot of different spots. I think that's where you get better as a football team. There's a lot of different places. You can start with (OL) Cam Erving competing with those established five starters. That's one. You look at the running backs as another one. You look at the competition, the wide receiver room. We're very deep at tight end; there will be some completion there. There are a lot of spots. Defensively, all of those guys on the D-line compete for playing time; the outside backer room where we made some changes – (LB) Scott Solomon coming on late and drafting (LB) Nate Orchard – to challenge (LB Barkevious) Mingo. (DL) Armonty Bryant) is going to get some work, we're going to cross train him between defensive line and outside backer, and obviously, we have (LB Paul) Kruger coming off of a very successful season. I already referenced the kicking competition. There is no better motivator than competition. That's why we're all looking forward to a lot of those battles unfold as camp goes on."

On WR Terrelle Pryor's choosing No. 87 or if it was assigned:
"I want to say it was his choice. He was offered a couple numbers that were available and No. 87 was the one he chose."

On DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu's injury timing or severity affecting his return:
"It is both. I don't think it was just a pure ACL. There were other ligaments involved, and I think there was a dislocation, as well. Obviously, it happening during bowl practice. I think it's a combination of both. Players that have had this injury before, it's rare that you would return that season. Given our depth, we're very comfortable with him sitting out. That's just one that we felt it was a low-risk, high-reward move when we took him in the seventh round. There's no reason to rush it back, is what I'm saying, given the depth in that room now anyway."

On if DL Phil Taylor and OL Alex Mack are full-go or on a pitch count to start training camp:
"They'll be on pitch count, but a lot of it is JUST that communication with them. How do you feel? And some of the tell-tale signs. If they come in that next day and there's a little bit swelling or some tenderness to it, then you can certainly hold them back. That's on them to communicate with us and communication with the guys in the training room. The opener is a long way away. That's why we're not in any rush to jump out here and start giving those guys full workloads. Also, as we've always done, just looking at some of the veteran players and being smart with them, that comes in two forms whether we give them a complete day off, as we've done with Joe Thomas, or if it's monitoring them and saying, 'Hey, listen go get ramped up and give full speed reps early in practice, and then we'll shut you down.' There will be guys that will fall in both categories."

On when the team will practice in full pads:
"There is the acclamation period. I think today counts as one. I think Saturday is the first day we're allowed to be in full pads."

On whether they will be in full pads after the acclamation period:

On low expectations outside of the building motivating players:
"I get a chance to meet with them later today to kind of outline it. Again, nobody wants to be disrespected. It's a prideful group and I just see it as a motivating thing. We had two wins over division opponents last year by 21 points, and we just feel that our best path to get to where we want to be is through the division. We played well enough at times to be in that conversation and other times we didn't. I think so much of the NFL is every team is capable but who can do it consistently and who can do it the longest. I think that is where we have to take that next step this year."

On notable changes to the depth chart:
"Nothing jumps out to me at this point. We're going to roll a lot of guys, especially early in camp. As we get closer to the opener, you want that continuity of units playing together, but given our depth this year, I can see us having – you could look at it depending on personnel group – 13, 14, 15 starters on each side of the ball."

On Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians hiring Jen Welter, the first female NFL coach:
"It's about qualifications, and I know Jen is perfectly qualified. I'm friends with Bruce. I think it's great that he did it. He's certainly one that's never shied away from out-of-the-box thinking. I'm curious to see how that plays out."

On Patriots QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension:
"It's something I don't want to get too caught up in. I think we all have our opinions on it. I'm not in the know to all of the details. I have a lot of respect for that organization, especially (Patriots Head) Coach (Bill) Belichick, having gone against him so many times and certainly, a ton of respect for Tom. I don't have all of the facts. Sometimes that's hard to try to offer an opinion or have judgement on something when you don't have all of the intimate details of it."

On his message to the rookie class, which includes 12 draft picks:
"When we opened rookie camp that was something I talked about with them, that there's no such thing as being on scholarship, other than the guys that were hurt that know they have their rehab to take care of. But those other guys, all they have to do is look around and do the math – there's no guarantees. You look at guys last year that were undrafted last year that made it. I think that's the mistake rookies can make sometimes. One, they can assume they're not going to make it, and that's just as bad as assuming they are going to make it. We very much operate on what have you done lately? That's why life in the NFL can be a day-to-day thing.Guys have to know they have to come in here and everyday put in the work, put in the effort with a great attitude.We'll see how it plays out, but we're very happy with that draft class so far. I mentioned this in the spring that every single one of them – and that's continues here in the few days that we've had them – they have all showed reasons why we brought them here. That's one of the reasons we're so encouraged about the competition thig that we already talked about. Some of these guys have come in, and there's going to be some interesting battles with rookies competing with veterans for playing time."

On differences between the eve of training camp during his first and second year as head coach:
"I don't think it's much different. There's probably a little less angst. I spent late yesterday afternoon, we had our coaches staff golf outing. We call it 'clubs away day.' We get to play one more time and put the clubs away. It's encouraging as a head coach when the scores aren't very good – that we have guys focusing on football and not on their golf game. It is an annual event for us. It went very well. It's something I'm excited about. It's just kind of getting rejuvenated. The staff all came back very well rested from break, and we're all very much looking forward to going. It's always tough in the beginning because you're easing your way in and you feel like camp doesn't even start until you get the pads on, but it's something we've had circled on the calendar for a long time and we can't wait to get started."

On making progress but not yet having an 'established QB':
"It's 11 players out there at a time; it's not just one. We've talked about this. We have a lot of confidence in all of our players when we go out there, and we showed last year that we could be very competitive in the division, splitting with Pittsburgh and how the last six quarters against them went. Then you look at how well we played against Cincinnati and then they returned the favor up here, we feel we certainly can compete with them. Then we had fourth quarter leads in both Baltimore games. It's not like we feel like we're standing up a mountain at the division. To me, it's the exact opposite. We're very much looking forward to when those games are played. Like I said, if you want to get your ultimate goal, that's the most direct route to it. We spend a lot of our focus as a coaching staff on the division opponents this offseason, and our players will certainly know the level of importance that each of those games holds."

On if OL Cameron Erving will still begin camp at RG, and if so, why the decision given OL John Greco's success last year:
"Just evaluating it, it just felt like it's a good starting point, but we're still going to move him around. We talked about the days off with Joe (Thomas) and that's a good opportunity to move Cam around. He's also shown that he can handle moving around. He proved it in college. You run the danger of if a guy gets spread too thin and then he's jack of all trades, master of none. We felt in looking at it and evaluating it that that was the best position, but camp is a long process. That's not etched in stone that that's where he's going to be or that's where he's going to stay. It gives us the ability to mix and match. As I said, as camp goes on, we'll settle on the lineup that we feel will be out there. No reflection on Greco."

On the roster changes and new offense affecting the passing game:
"A lot of it is new, but there is a lot of carryover from last year. It starts with the protection. It's great having (offensive line) Coach (Andy) Moeller and (assistant offensive line) Coach (George) DeLeone back and those five starters, plus Cam Erving from a protection standpoint that's where it all starts. We do have numerous guys back, whether it's the two backs (TE Jim) Dray, (TE Gary) Barnidge, Hawk (WR Andrew Hawkins), (WR) Travis (Benjamin), (WR) Taylor (Gabriel) – guys that were contributors for us last year in the pass game. It's not like we're starting from scratch. I feel good about the football aptitude of this group. It's a very intelligent group. We were able to put in a lot. Like I said, we're 90-plus percent installed, and a lot of is familiar concepts from a year ago. If it was the same thing, it might be called something different or just a subtle tweak in the terminology, but for the most part, a large part of what we're doing now is carried over from last year. I'm confident that our pass game will be where we want it to be Week 1."

On QB Josh McCown and working with WR Terrelle Pryor and McCown as a leader:
"He's the same guy every day. He's all about football. He's all about the team and he's all about winning. For him to take time during his break to workout with Terrelle speaks to his character. Even just the few days we've had him since he's been back, he's picked it up right where he left off. Whether it's with me or with Flip or (quarterbacks coach) Kevin (O'Connell), the conversations are always positive, they're about football and they're all about the browns getting better."

On his thoughts on potentially moving training camp to Columbus, Ohio in the future, considering President Alec Scheiner's comments that it would be a football decision:
"It's absolutely based on football. I felt fortunate, when I was in Baltimore, we went away to McDaniel College in western Maryland. It wasn't that far away; it was a half hour. When I was with the Jets, we went away to Courtland in every year except the year of the lockout. When I was with the Bills, we went away to St. John Fisher. I know I've spoken on this before, but I like to compartmentalize the year. It's just tough to be on your same fields and your same meeting room and everything's the same and we say, "Ok its training camp now, and now it's not training camp anymore.' Physically being away helps the players, it signals a change in atmosphere. It really does force you to have a time – I don't want to talk about shared misery because a lot of the guys bring their own beds and their TVs so I don't know how miserable they are – but just being away signifies something. I like that because it helps at night when there's nothing else to do, you're building a team, its camaraderie, guys are doing stuff together. Then I also think it gives another area, whether it was Westminster, Maryland or Rochester, New York or Courtland, as it would do in Columbus, you are giving an opportunity for another area to come see you. I didn't know any better, and that's one of the things I brought it up here and researched it and saw that it was feasible to do. We'll see how that plays out."


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