Press Conference

Odell Beckham Jr.: 'I am definitely feeling better than last year'

WR Odell Beckham Jr.:

On how close to full speed he was last year:

"As far as numbers wise, I could not give you a percentage, but I was injured, for sure. I know we all play with nicks and bruises, but it was tough. I do not know a number necessarily." 

On how the lack of live reps in some practices last season impacted his season:

"I do not necessarily know how to answer it. It is just like I always say, you can go out there every day of the week and hit it and go out there Sunday and not hit it. You can go out there every day of the week, not hit and go out there Sunday and hit everything. I can't really answer that question on how much it affected, but I can say that I am definitely feeling better than last year. I am just thankful that God has put me in a position to where I am feeling better."  

On QB Baker Mayfield's progress this year:

"He has looked great to me. Like I say, you can always tell on a Sunday better than every day in practice. Being in the league now for six or seven years, learning a new offense, a new staff and new everything is always a challenge in itself. I think everybody here has handled it pretty well, especially with the COVID, the regulations and obviously the interviews through what we are doing right now. I think everybody has handled it pretty well, and I think Baker is ready to have a big year." 

On his previous comments that 2020 was going to be his year and his emotions now that the season starts this week:

"I think it is selfish for me to say that 2020 is going to be my year, and if I would have known three years ago or last year whenever I started saying this that 2020 would have been a year like this, I do not think I would have ever said that. It has been a tough year for all of us emotionally – pandemic, the world that we are living in. I think has been tough on everybody. Now that we are back in the situation and everything is seeming as if it is returning back to normal, I think the best thing that this world could do would be to finish this year strong and just find a way to make it the best that it has ever been. Kind of just having that mindset of just being great. That is just for the world in general. Like I said, I do not know if I would have said that three years ago, knowing what has happened so far, but just making the most out of the rest of this year." 

On if he has a feel for the Browns' offensive identity this year:

"Just score points. I will go with that. Score points." 

On why he feels better about his connection with Mayfield this season:

"For one, I can run. I can lift my leg up on a table. It is crazy for me to look back and think about kind of just how I made it through the season last year because there were little motions that I could not even do. I could not put my leg up on the table. I could not do simple basic motions, much less go against the best of the best week in and week out. Just being able to run and be healthy, I think it makes it a lot easier for him. Now, this is the second year that we have been with each other. I think we both are just taking strides. Both have been through a lot. Like I have said, the talks I have had with him, I know he is hungry and ready. As far as specific examples, I do not necessarily know if I can give you any. Just an overall feeling of we both want to be great." 

On if he agreed with WR Jarvis Landry's comments that he is more comfortable and accepting of being in Cleveland this season:

"I do not know about accepting as I do not know if that is the word you want to use, but I am definitely happier just with life in general of where I am. Like I always talk about how you go through certain things in life and etc., and I have kind of talked to you all about that, but I am just in a better place in life." 

On if he has talked to Landry about what they are capable of doing together this season when fully healthy, understanding Landry in particular may not be 100 percent yet:

"I am pretty sure it is just what we dreamed of and what we have always talked about and joked about back when we were 17 years old. 'We are going to go to the same college. We are going to be on the same NFL team.' It is crazy how it has happened and this is where we are. I feel like we all wish we had more time in a sense, just to have more time to get ready, have more time to heal and have more time to prepare, but this is where we are so we just keep rolling. I think Jarvis looks great. He has always been a phenomenal player. I do not think we are going to see anything less than phenomenal in my opinion. Just getting towards the game tonight and being able to see how it is going to be instead of just jumping into it – there was no preseason – so being able to watch the first game, I think will give us all a little feeling of what it is going to be like. Other than that, we just keep it rolling." 

On the Ravens secondary:

"There is a reason that this team was 14-2 last year. I know they had hopes of going to the Super Bowl and fell short of that, but this is a very, very good team. The Ravens have always been a good team in my opinion as far as a tough, physical opponent. That is what they bring to the table. Up front, they are physical. In the secondary, they are physical. Linebackers are physical. We definitely have a tough challenge ahead, but I think we are just all looking forward to playing football." 

On where the Browns stand now compared to the end of last season:

"It is tough to say. I guess the only real judge is Sundays. Everything else is neither here nor there. The ultimate tests are always on Sunday. I am looking forward to the season. I feel very good about this team, the staff and everything, and I am looking forward to get playing."  

On if he is not a fan of preseason games and how this year might revolutionize how teams prepare for a season:

"I was only not a fan because of what happened to me in preseason. It is kind of like a cardinal rule around the league, like it is preseason and we are out and we are getting the plays in and we are all keeping each other safe. I do not feel like that was the situation for me. I would sit here and tell you that I am not the biggest fan, but to me, it allows you to see your teammates and the young guys who are coming in, the ones who have an opportunity, the (former NFL WR) Victor Cruz stories and the guys who made a name in preseason and created a career in doing it. I think it has eliminated that opportunity. It has eliminated the opportunity to see some young guys and how they are going play. It is definitely tough as far as building a team, but life is tough and we are always faced with obstacles. It is just kind of about how we overcome it. I do not know what the future is for preseason or how it is going to be for the rest of the time, but I think the hardest thing about it was to not be able to see those young guys and eliminate those opportunities for people to make the teams and provide for their families."

WR Jarvis Landry:

On returning from hip surgery and how ready he feels heading into Week 1:

"How much I will be as far as gameplan wise will be up to the coaches. I am still getting better. I am still improving, taking each and every day to work on the things that I need to work on to make sure that I am healthy out there and make sure that I can go out there and compete and help this team win games." 

On if he can tell a difference from how he felt last year:

"I think it is just something that I am going to be dealing with. I think it is one of those things that the further out I get from surgery, the better I will continue to feel. Right now, I am just doing everything possible to be able to come out here, work as hard as I can each day and make sure I take care of my body."

On how limiting his injury was last season:

"I think for me the biggest thing was practice. I am a big firm believer in practice and getting those reps in practice out there with the guys and getting the looks and being comfortable with everything going into the game weeks. Obviously, once I stepped on the field on Sunday, I am not really worried about whatever I am going through. I am a football player, and these things happen. You have to play through injuries and you have to play through things. I embraced that last season. I am looking forward to having a season where I can actually be out there practicing more and not worried about an injury and be able to take the field on Sunday with a clear head and just going out there and make plays." 

On looking forward to the potential he and WR Odell Beckham Jr. have when they are both feeling 100 percent:

"I definitely have been looking forward to it. It is something that gives us opportunities to make more plays and win more games. That is what we are looking to do here this season." 

On if he sees a difference in Beckham this season following his surgery:

"Yeah, absolutely. I think being able to have the confidence that a guy like he has, to be able to come out here each and every day and use his gifts and not feel hindered or not feel restricted by anything that might be going on with his body. It is good to see him out here making plays dominating. That is really what I see from him so far." 

On the Browns' new coaching staff:

"Everybody that is in this building loves football. I think the emphasis has been on the details, about the game and about what we can do to be a better football team. I am bought in. I think whoever is leading us at whatever time, I am a firm believer of making sure that I am doing my job, making sure that I am out here competing and putting myself in a position to help the team win. I know that the coaching staff is going to do the same." 

On the concept that the Browns offense may rely on the run game more early on in the season and how the WRs may feel about blocking more:

"First of all, I love to block. That is part of my game. That is part of who I am. Secondly, we are going to do whatever it takes to win, whether that is running passing or whatever it is. Whatever it takes to win, I am all for that." 

On if he has talked with Beckham about a sense of urgency to go out and make plays and wins happen this season:

"We are constantly talking. We are constantly growing. We are constantly learning things about the game and trying to figure out what we do well and what we do best. I think that is one of the biggest things for us is having that open line of communication, being able to talk to each other and being able to have the hard conversations. This is a game that throws a lot of challenges at you. I think the biggest thing for us is making sure that our communication level is at the point where it does not really matter what challenges we face or a team that we are going against, if we are on the same page, and we should have successful plays." 

On if he feels that this is the year to put it together and make a championship run:

"I think every guy that has ever played, no matter how many seasons they played, they always think that this year is that year. I would not want anybody in this building that did not think that, as well, or on my previous teams. I think that is just the mindset in the 32 clubs that have the opportunity to go out there and play this game. Everybody wants to go and play in the Super Bowl, but you have to do the little things and go week by week with everything, and you will get there when you get there." 

On his emotions reaching Week 1, given the uncertainty in the offseason:

"I am very excited. I am excited to get the opportunity to take the field and play the game that I love, coming off of the surgery and having the opportunity to get as healthy as I can. Like I said, that is an ongoing process for me right now, but it is a great feeling knowing that we have a game in a couple of days." 

On if he ever doubted the NFL season might not start on time:

"I did not really think about it, honestly. I was in a tough part of my rehab at that point, and my whole focus was just making sure that I would be able to come back if there was a season. That is what my mindset was. It actually did me a favor and it got me a little bit more time, which is a good thing. That is just where my mind was." 

On what he learned from last season:

"You constantly see that your roster or your team on paper still has to go out there and perform, that it is the ultimate team game and that is not going to just be the offensive guys that are making plays and winning the games. It is going to come down to defense, it going to come down to special teams and it is going to come down to having every guy, including the coaching staff, every player having great situational awareness being able to understand where we are in the game, what points we are in the game, whether we need to go for it on fourth down, etc. I think having those things be key in our success and our approach is something that we continue to take and learn from other teams and ourselves." 

On how much value he places on Sunday's game being the opener against a divisional opponent:

"This is a tough matchup. It is going to be a tough matchup. Those guys are who they are, and they have been that way for a while. For us, we just have to continue to keep our head in the right place and identify their strengths and their weaknesses, identify our strengths and weaknesses and then try to just make one more play than they do."  

On how different it has been under Head Coach Kevin Stefanski and how excited he is to play under Stefanski this season:

"I am very excited. I keep going back to my rehab process and everything that I have been going through as of late. I have the opportunity to just be out here practicing, do training camp and do these days leading into a game. It is very exciting. Obviously, Coach Stefanski, having the opportunity to coach a game, make those calls, be on this level and to give us the direction that we need to go out there and try to win games each and every weekend."

G Joel Bitonio:

On JC Tretter practicing on Monday:

"He has kind of been through this the last few years he has been here. The way he works and the trust, I think the whole goal was to try to get back for Week 1. He is still working at it, but we knew he was going to have a chance to at least practice and see it how it feels out there on Monday so it was good to see him back out there."

On if Tretter can hit the ground running and be a stabilizer for the Browns OL, if able to play on Sunday:

"Yeah, mentally he was there. Like I said, he has been in every meeting. He has been focused and ready to go. If there is something that is confusing you me, (G) Wyatt (Teller), (T) Jack (Conklin) or (T) Jed(rick) (Wills Jr.) kind of have the answer for him on the field and (offensive line) Coach (Bill Callahan) will clarify things for him. He has been out there ready to go. Just having him in the huddle the last three years, we have played next to each other a bunch so it is a confidence booster for me just to have a familiar face out there."

On how to help Wills with his matchup this week against Ravens DE Calais Campbell:

"Jed has been working tough. The crazy thing about no preseason is we do not really know where they are going to line him up. They run a base three-down, four-linebacker kind of front. Calais can really be kind of lined up anywhere from nose guard to 3 technique to the 5 technique. We are thinking we are going to get him a little bit everywhere. I think Jed is preparing. We watched a lot of film and then we are going to scheme some things, but really it is just focusing on himself. We will see what Calais does well, and he is a great player and has been a great player for a long time. That was a big trade for him this offseason, but Jed is going to focus on his technique and understanding what he needs to do, and if he is confident in himself, I think that is a huge starting step."

On if there is anything that he can do to help Wills mitigate any pregame or early game jitters, especially given the absence of preseason games:

"That is a good question because I remember my rookie preseason, there is definitely a lot of nerves and you do not know what to expect. It is your first time playing the NFL and practice is just different. I think just talking to him. I just tell him like, 'Hey, just focus on yourself, go one play at a time and we will roll with it.' Whatever happens out there, we are going to play the next play, communicate and just make sure we are on the same page for everything. If you are on the same page you are not making the mental mistakes, the physical stuff takes over. He has played football his whole life so if we can just put him in the right position, I think that will be a huge step." 

On if the Browns could potentially run the ball 35-40 times a game with RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt playing together all season:

"It was great – first, congrats to Kareem [on his contract extension]. He has been a great guy in the locker room. He has worked his butt off and he has been a big factor for us, staring with last year and then kind of moving on from there, but it is good to have two backs that can do it. I think both of them can be that bell cow back, and we want to try and get our playmakers as many touches as possible. I do not know the numbers on the run, but I think if you run the ball enough to set up the play action or the play action sets up the run, both things work here. If we get enough touches to those guys, and usually you run the ball when you are winning a lot of times in the NFL so if we get 35-40 touches, hopefully, we are closing out games in the fourth quarter. Every O linemen is going to say yeah let's run the ball as much as possible, but let's just take advantage of the situations. If they are little in the box, we might have to pass more that week. I know we want to try and establish the run and see what we can do from there."

On what about the current Browns staff makes it different from past years:

"I think there is some real continuity from the top down. From (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski to the coaching staff and the players, we are all on the same page. It has been a weird offseason with COVID and all that stuff. For a first-time head coach to come into that situation and have to have to kind of, like he likes to say, hit the curve ball, I think we have been organized, I think we have been ready to go and we have taken advantage of the opportunities we have had to practice and prepare Like you said, every year you feel like there is hope and there is new energy in a building, but with these guys, I feel like we are really working on the same page, we are all pulling in the same direction and we are looking forward to playing some games. You feel good and practice and stuff, but let's see how it shakes out on the field. That is when we are really going to be tested."

On if he and Tretter talk about their consecutive offensive snaps streaks together:

"I do not think we actually like specifically talked about like, 'Hey, we have played all these snaps together.' It is just one of those things like there has probably been 16 games to 20 games where going into Wednesday and Thursday, you do not know if JC is going to make it, when he had the high ankle sprain and he had some other issues throughout the seasons. Every Sunday, he seemed to line up there so there was just something that kind of clicks with him, and it is like, hey on gameday, he is going to be ready to go. There might be a play or two in the game where you have to pick him up off the ground or something like that, but he is just a tough guy and he wants to be out there for his teammates. I think it is just a testament to his work ethic and his pride. I think guys have pride, they want to be on the field and they want to help your team. That is something pretty cool. Anytime you can play next to a guy for as many snaps, you feel comfortable in those situations and you want to be with those guys that kind of give you that confidence."

On if he is curious to see how camaraderie within the locker room shows itself in games, given changes to the building due to COVID-19 protocols:

"It is different. I do not think we had as much time offseason to go to dinner and do all those kind of things that team bonding does, but we have done a lot of Zooms and we have done a lot of extra meetings just to get to know our teammates. As far as the O line goes, we are all kind of cut from the same cloth type of guys. You bring Jack in and you bring Jed and (C) Nick (Harris) in, and you have those relationships. With technology nowadays, maybe 20 years ago when people did not have phones, it might have been harder, but now it is like, hey, we are just talking and we are on Zoom. Everybody kind of knows how to use it so it is definitely different, but I still feel like we have had that time to connect and really try and understand each other."

On the Browns offense not necessarily playing as well as desired in the practice at FirstEnergy Stadium and live periods and if that allowed the team to revisit items and have a greater sense of urgency to improve and be ready for Week 1:

"We kind of treated that like more of a regular practice. There wasn't as much of an emphasis on, 'Hey, this is a scrimmage.' I think we were working things that we wanted to work for that day or that install that we were on. Anytime you don't perform up to your standards, you want to fix it. The mistakes that were made, it was not one person; it was a thing here or thing there and it is practice so we kind of work on that. We come back to the drawing board and say, 'Hey, this is what we need to fix and let's not make the same mistakes again.' If you can improve from that and you are not making the same mistakes over and over, that is a good place to start. I think there were some good things to take out of that. We have kind of seen it both ways, but there is always urgency. We didn't have a full training camp and we didn't have a full offseason so every day we haven't been able to waste. We are really trying to take advantage of that next opportunity."

On if he ever doubted the NFL season would start on time and excitement for Week 1 to begin:

"There were for sure doubts. I was kind of around JC all offseason, and I didn't get any real inside information, but I kind of just went with his mood and his amount of meetings. Just seeing other sports and how long it was taking for teams to get going, there was definitely a question of if we were going to play this season. I was talking to my wife about it, and said, 'We are going to prepare like we are ready to go, but you never know what the call is going to be.' I think it is a testament to the guys in the organization, the players, the coaches and the support staff. Everybody has taken it really seriously to try and not have positive tests. It is pretty cool. I woke up this morning and we have football tonight, we are playing an NFL game and this weekend we have a full slate of games. I know we are excited as players. This is what we do. This is what we love to do. We get to play football for a living, and this is Week 1 of it. We are really blessed to be in this situation. I am excited. I am excited to watch football tonight. It feels normal. For a while there, I was like, 'We haven't had preseason games. We haven't seen anything on TV. College football is not really in full swing.' I think once the NFL gets going, it is going to feel a little bit more normal for everybody."

On if the Browns may have an opportunity to surprise people this year, given the high expectations for the team last year:

"I think that is more of an outsider's perspective. As a player, especially as an offensive linemen, I have to focus on each play individually and each game individually. No matter if someone tells us that we are going to win the division or we are going to come in last, that doesn't really change my outlook on how I am attack a play or a game. It doesn't help me that, 'Hey, they are going to go 12-4 this year or they are going to go 4-12.' You still have to go out there and really handle your business as a player. From our perspective as players, we want to go out there and perform and we want to be our best and we want to win games for each other in the locker room. That has kind of been our mindset. Have we not been talked about as much? Sure, but from a player's perspective, we still have to prepare, we still have to work and we still have to get ready to play every game like it is the most important game of the year."

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