Normally in his press conferences, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine opens it up to reporters to fire away on questions.
But on Wednesday, Pettine wanted to single out the Browns' fan base and how important Sunday's home opener against the New Orleans Saints is to him and the entire team.
"It's kind of like opening day in baseball," said Pettine. "There's just a feel to it. It's a special day. We're excited to get out in front of the Dawg Pound and put out a performance that they can be proud of – not just a half. That's something we will stress all week."
Last week in Pittsburgh, Steelers players said after the game a big part of their strong start had to do with their roaring fan base. Heinz Field was rocking and the Steelers were able to channel their fans' energy into momentum plays on offense.
Pettine and the Browns will need the extra ammo from the Dawg Pound at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Saints may be one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL and any added noise to disrupt their concentration will help. Also, New Orleans hasn't exactly had overwhelming success on the road.
The Saints are 6-11 in their last 17 road contests away from the Superdome. And not to diminish the talents of Drew Brees, but his 2013 statistics at home (27 touchdowns, three interceptions and 126.3 quarterback rating) is far superior to what he did on the road (12 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 84.8 QB rating. The opportunity for the Browns to upset one of the NFL's best teams is real.
"It's important to us, moving forward, that we use our fans," said Pettine. "I'll continue to say it: I think they are among the best in the league. But we have to give them reasons to be loud and be excited."
News and Notes
- Ben Tate is out for at least this week with a sprained knee. Jordan Cameron and Barkevious Mingo will be out day-to-day, both with shoulder injuries.
- Desmond Bryant (wrist) will return to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday. Pettine thinks if he's able to play, you'll see an even stronger pass rush on Sunday.
- Even though the Browns released cornerback Aaron Berry on Tuesday, Pettine confirmed the Browns will continue to try and tinker with Justin Gilbert's role. Because the Saints use five wide receivers as much as any team in the league, other undrafted rookies like Robert Nelson and K'Waun Williams will likely see snaps on the field as well.
- The Browns signed wide receiver 6-foot-7, 239-pound wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah to the practice squad on Tuesday. Pettine said that Momah was on a shortlist of players in general manager Ray Farmer's rotating list of guys who can help the roster. Momah will likely imitate Saints tight end Jimmy Graham in practice.
- If Jordan Cameron is unable to go, Pettine has faith in both Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray. The pair combined for three catches and 43 yards. The Browns also signed Gerell Robinson from the Denver Broncos practice squad. Robinson is a converted wide receiver who has a similar skill set to Cameron.
- Saints rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks was in the discussion as the Browns' top rated receiver on their draft board. Cooks caught seven passes against the Falcons for 77 yards and a touchdown, and also took a reverse for 18 yards.
- "He plays bigger than his size," said Pettine. "He has explosive run after the catch ability. He can turn a short one into a long one. He can run through tackles."
- Pettine on the no-huddle offense: "It'll be a part of what we do. You want to have the ability to jump in and out of it. We are not built to major in."