Skip to main content

News & Notes

News & Notes: HC Kevin Stefanski discusses Nick Chubb's progress, offseason program and more

Players returned to Berea for the beginning of the offseason program

Stefanski Offseason Program 4.16

The Browns are officially back in Berea.

April 15 marked the start of Phase One of the nine-week voluntary workout program to ramp players up for the 2024 season. This first phase lasts the first two weeks of the program, and focuses on meetings, strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation.

"Starting yesterday was the first day of school," head coach Kevin Stefanski said in his press conference on April 16. "Phase One, we're in the classroom with the guys, then they're in the weight room, they're on their own in there with the strength coaches. So, Phase One, two weeks' worth of getting some really solid work in, and I think it's been a really positive first couple days."

It's a beneficial period for the Browns, especially with all the changes to their offensive staff in the offseason. Stefanski said that they can take a measured approach through the early stages of the offseason program to how they put together the schemes and introducing the information to the players.

The first week is focused more as an "onboarding week" and helping the players get up to speed with their position expectations, as well as the basics of the scheme. They also spend time with each player to review a type of improvement plan where they discuss the ways they each are expected to improve and the ways in which the coaching staff can help the player do so.

As the Browns continue the first stage of the offseason program, Stefanski held his first availability and discussed a number of topics, including injury updates, offensive meetings, play calling responsibilities and more.

Nick Chubb's progress

RB Nick Chubb continues to progress from his season-ending knee injury that he endured in Week 2 of the 2023 season. He had two separate surgeries – the first in September to repair damage to his medial capsule, meniscus and medial collateral ligament, and the second in November to repair the ACL. Since then, Chubb has taken necessary steps forward in his rehab process.

While at NFL Annual League Meetings in March, Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry said that Chubb was beginning to load run. Stefanski did not dive into the specifics of Chubb's rehab in the latest update on Tuesday, but he said that Chubb continues to follow and attack his rehab. They are still taking the approach of focusing on each day in terms of his recovery timeline.

"I can promise you he's working very hard early in the morning," Stefanski said. "He's here. He's attacking his rehab. That's the best way I can put it. When he's ready, he'll be ready."

Further injury updates

Stefanski also provided updates on other injured players on the roster. Tackles Jack Conklin, Jedrick Wills Jr. and Dawand Jones – all who suffered season-ending injuries over the course of the 2023 season – are making progress.

Conklin endured a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. Jones, who started nine games in place of Conklin following his injury, was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 12 with a knee injury that required surgery and ended his season. Wills was first placed on injured reserve on Nov. 7 before he underwent knee surgery Dec. 12 and missed the remainder of the season. Jones

"All of them are at different points in their rehab," Stefanski said. "Those are three different injuries. Same position, but three different injuries. So, we're going to treat them as such. But again, these guys are working very, very hard to get back ASAP."

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 26 with a hip injury and missed the remainder of the season, is another player who Stefanski highlighted as working hard in the training room to return healthy.

"He's doing a great job in there," Stefanski said. "He's doing a great job in the meetings. We'll see when he's ready to go. That's when the doctors tell us he's ready, he'll be ready."

Stefanski added that RB Nyheim Hines, who the Browns signed during free agency, is still in the process of rehabbing from his ACL injury. Hines suffered a torn ACL in July 2023, and spent the 2023 season on injured reserve with the Bills.

Offensive meetings with new OC Ken Dorsey and play calling responsibilities

New offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey is beginning the process of working through the new playbook with the offense and the quarterback room, catching the players up to speed on the different facets of the offense. Stefanski said some of the elements of the offense are the same, while others will be different than previous years.

When the Browns added Dorsey as the new offensive coordinator, Stefanski knew that he and Dorsey saw the game from a similar philosophical standpoint. That has translated into how they are structuring their offense for next season, with similarities from previous years in terms of being an attacking offense in a multitude of ways.

"How it all unfolds is still something that, in phase one, you're trying to put pieces together and install your system so that you can evolve as you see what players are emerging, see what players come out of the draft, for instance, so that you are ready to put the offense together that fits your guys best," Stefanski said.

One of the biggest offseason questions that is still looming comes to who will call plays during the 2024 season. Yet, Stefanski said there is still not a decision on that front on whether he will continue to hold that responsibility or if Dorsey will call plays.

Growth for defense in second year of DC Jim Schwartz's system

One year ago, the newly hired defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was implementing a new version of the Browns' defense in the offseason program.

The Browns saw immediate success during the 2023 season, as they led the NFL in total defense with 270.2 net yards allowed per game – which were the fewest allowed in the NFL since the 2014 Seahawks – and passing defense with 164.7 yards allowed per game. They also led the NFL in third down percentage at 29.1 percent, as well as only allowing 253 first downs – 45 less than the Jets who finished second in the NFL.

Now, as the Browns' defense returns for the second year under Schwartz, there's a desire to build off the success of the first season and continue to improve – especially with key defensive players returning for this upcoming season.

"Schwartz hit that with the defense yesterday as well. It is year two in the system, so you're building off of a lot of what we did last year and there's varying levels of understanding," Stefanski said. "All of them can brush up, if you will, on the system. And then we're going to challenge them. We're going to, obviously, in year two, you're going to add some things and maybe subtract a few things, but we'll challenge each one of these guys, whether they were here previously or not."

Related Content