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Press Conference

Stump Mitchell: "It's a team game"

Run game coordinator/running backs coach Stump Mitchell:
On RB Kareem Hunt and if Hunt made any changes during the offseason:
"He missed the first eight games last year, and he also had an injury. With that being said, right now, he has had a great offseason, he is fully healthy and he knows that at one point in time he led the league in rushing just a couple years ago so he is hoping to have the opportunity to showcase what he can do again."

On what a good FB can do for the Browns running game:
"He is the eyes for the running backs. When you are talking about two backs, he is the eyes for that halfback, and also, those guys are good in pass protection if we needed to use them as a third-down back. It is just great to have the guy that we have. (FB) Andy (Janovich), I have shown those guys video of him. He makes excellent decisions. Andy is great for (FB) Johnny (Stanton) because now Johnny is getting the opportunity to learn exactly how to do it, and those guys were teammates at Nebraska. It is a great opportunity for Johnny to pick up some great habits from Andy."

On if he has spoken with RB Nick Chubb since he sustained the concussion:
"He is in meetings so he is doing, I would say, extremely well. To be able to be in the meetings, he is not having any problems in terms of headaches or anything like that. He is doing well. It is just a matter of time before he gets cleared."

Check out photos from the sixth day of Browns Camp

On how nice it is to have a player like Hunt be able to step in while Chubb is unavailable:
"It is great to have those, but I tell you what, it is great for us to have the offensive line hopefully fixed. I would say that is the main thing not having been together as a team is these runners need to understand the strengths, the strengths, the strengths and maybe slight weakness of an offensive lineman so they can make things happen."

On if he has run the wide zone scheme before and how the players are adapting to it:
"Yes, we did it last year. What we did not do off the wide zone a whole lot was run keepers. In terms of running the wide zone, we ran the wide zone last year and we ran inside zone last year so it is not different. Nick ran it in college, and Kareem some, as well. Most teams do some version of it, whether it is with a fullback or just a single back so it is nothing new for us. Our tracks may change a little bit, but that is pretty much it."

On if he has always liked running the wide zone scheme, including as a player:
"I have always loved it because especially for guys that have the ability to make quick cuts, you get guys running, and now you give them the impression that you are going one place or the other and then you go somewhere different. It is all based on how our guys can cover guys up. If we can prevent penetration, then we can stay on the angle in which we are going. If there is penetration, then we have to be able to put our foot in the ground and get going up north or south."

On if he still has his beard:
"Yes, I do."

On if the team has opportunities to have Chubb and Hunt on the field at the same time, particularly given Hunt missed the first eight games last year:
"It probably will be, but I am not exactly sure how much this year because we have not had an offseason together. Right now, we are trying to get guys to learn the system as it was pretty much in Minnesota, and they did not have much of that. We are just going to be happy when those guys do get an opportunity to play, and hopefully, we will showcase what we can do."

On if it is too early to tell how much Hunt will play WR:
"Yes, I think that it is too early because we have some receivers that we think are doing pretty good, besides (WRs) Odell (Beckham Jr.) and Jarvis (Landry). That is what the General Manager and his guys are going to do. They are going to go out and try to get guys that can play. Kareem will have his opportunity at some point. We will definitely prepare for each team differently, and if that is suitable for us, which I am almost sure it will be at most times, he will see his opportunities."

On how much better Chubb and Hunt can be, given their past production, and if the sky is still the limit for them:
"Oh yeah, absolutely. There were a couple of times Nick missed a couple of runs last year or he would have won the rushing title. These guys, they are not happy with any mistakes that they make. They are always trying to improve."

On how long it typically takes a RB to figure out an OL's strengths and weaknesses and if they have time to get that done prior to the regular season:
"Because we do not have any preseason games, we are really not going to be able to see any live reps until we actually play the Ravens. It is all going to be about the running backs being patient. That is the most important thing. They have to be patient. We will figure it out. We think these guys can play. We know a few of them that were with us last year can play, and we think the scouts did a heck of a job of recruiting guys that could play. They brought them in so it is obvious they can do something."

On how disappointed he was that Chubb was not able to win the rushing title last season and how much of an emphasis it was heading into the last week:
"I was disappointed, but I was disappointed in games before that last game because there was an opportunity for us to have done better and we missed a couple of cuts. We have been working on a little more patience. It is a team game, and unfortunately, we did not win enough games for Cleveland Brown fans so we did not deserve to please ourselves either."

On if it was disappointing to see Chubb rush for 13 carries for 41 yards in the last game, knowing how close Chubb was to winning the rushing title:
"Yeah, it was definitely a downer to see it take (Titans RB Derrick) Henry 32 carries and on his last one he went for 55 yards. We just needed to handle our business earlier, and we did not do it."

Linebackers coach Jason Tarver:
On the state of the Browns LBs after the injury to LB Mack Wilson:
"We have had great competition through camp. We have been rolling people anyway, even when Mack was in because we wanted to see what we had. Like we have spoken about before on our Zoom press conferences, it is a competition, top to bottom, so we have been rolling our group. What has been impressive about our group is their ability to communicate. We have moved different players to different positions and see how they speak to each other and how well they can function because it is our job to get the defense lined up and be the in between the D line and the DBs. (LB) B.J. Goodson has done a great job being a pro in the room, running the show, running and hitting and lining everybody up and really getting in front of the huddle, being confident and taking advantage of his opportunities. (LB) Tae Davis has done a nice job getting stronger in the offseason and really working on shedding blocks well, and he is playing all three positions. (LB) Sione Takitaki is a ball of energy, and he loves contact. He has gotten better and better and better at his space movement. He had a great day of practice yesterday. (LB) Jacob Phillips really loves contact, and he is fast. Like any rookie, sometimes he is fast the wrong way and sometimes it is fast the right way. What is great about Jacob is he is a one-time correction young man. You tell him, he writes it down, he analyzes it and learns from his mistakes. (LB) Willie Harvey is working his way back off an injury, is fast, loves contact and has done some good things. (LB) Montrel Meander is another guy, who is fast, loves contact and learning the linebacker position, but he is learning how to shed blocks and improving. (LB) Solomon Ajayi is very, very smart. If you are ever going to be a rookie free agent in a year without an offseason, you have to be wired like Solomon. He makes very few mistakes and is tough."

On having LB B.J. Goodson in a leadership role for the Browns LBs:
"The first commandment of our linebacker mantra is run and shed, and he does that. He has been great. He knew there is an opportunity. He is just a pleasure to be around in the classroom. He writes notes, asks questions and then he gets on the field, and he does what you want guys to do. They fight and they go to the next play. Whatever happens on that play, he is right back in front of the guys with energy, running, doing the things we want to do and attacking the ball. Like where he is and proud of where he is, and just keep doing that every day."

On Takitaki's performance during yesterday's practice:
"One of the hardest things to do at the linebacker position sometimes is to let things go because you are right in the middle of everything. The position is named linebacker because you are backed off the ball and you are right in the middle. Sione has done a nice job of focusing play in and play out. We have a phrase that (former NFL LB) Takeo Spikes, a great linebacker that I was fortunate enough to work with, used and that is 'The next place the best play.' That is one of the things we are using because Sione is so explosive. He will see things and he will take it, and if he did not make it in the past, then he might be thinking about that the next play. Sione just focuses, and when he sees things, he will go and he will hit it. The better he gets at play in and play out doing of that, the better he is going to be."

On if asking LB Jacob Phillips to play a lot right away and get snaps in the regular season may be too much for a rookie:
"First, it started with our young men in the room. They did a good job this offseason of really learning the positions, not just the MIKE linebacker or whatever you want to call it – the MIKE, the WILL. They learned them all because we know that in this season, not just for the Browns but everywhere, you are going to have to be able to adjust. We are going to be great at adjusting and not worrying about what is going on. Jacob has done a nice job of studying all the positions. It is a competition right now so the better they play, the more they will earn. You can see combinations of a lot of our linebackers because there are some things that they all do well, and we are going to use them to the best of their ability."

On if Goodson has the ability to play in a 4-2-5 formation:
"Yeah, our personnel groups will change based off of what the offense is doing or the personnel that they have on the field. More wide receivers, sometimes you want match them with more [defensive backs]. Sometimes you may not based off if you want to stop the run by down and distance. We have packages with three linebackers and two on the field. B.J. was in those packages and he will be. We are rolling everybody through. To give you an example, B.J. did a great job in one of those packages on an option route in the red zone where our new tight end (TE Austin Hooper), who is pretty good – and there are a few tight ends out there that are pretty good, big and fast so they are great to work against and we are glad they are on our team – ran a route where he can either go underneath or go vertical, and B.J. stayed in perfect position. He has done a great job of working his body through the offseason to where he can do that. I know B.J. was excited about the opportunity here because we want players to feel like they are limitless. Build your bodies and then learn the positions, and we will use you for what you are really good at. Hey, there are opportunities so go out and compete."

On if Goodson is most likely to call defensive plays:
"In our room right now, all of us are learning to be able to call the position and call the whole huddle calls. There are a few of the players that are not doing it as much as others, but we have trained them from the start to be ready to make the huddle calls. B.J. has done a wonderful job in front of the huddle in camp and so has Tae and so has Jacob. Sione is calling out things that he is supposed to call out, and they been great. We have rolled them in groups so that they have to work with a new guy. So far, they have just done a great job with that because you do not know who you are going to be next to all the time in this season."

On what roles the LBs must fulfill in the defensive scheme:
"Our linebacker mantra is run, shed and tackle the guy with the ball. The first thing we have to do at the linebacker position is we have to make a call, help everybody line up and set the defense. We have been good at that so far. That is No. 1 is we have to make sure all 11 players can play together. Our system allows the linebacker to make those calls pretty quickly here, and the guys have been great at that. That is No. 1. We have to make sure we are on point mentally so that everybody can play fast. That is No. 1. Then No. 2 is what I just said, we need to run. Our defense is built on running to the ball. Great defenses run to the ball and attack the ball. We want to be known for that. We have to get off of blocks. This group has put themselves in a position where, although there is not as much NFL video on some of these young men, they are shedding blocks right now. The key is finishing the down unblocked and getting to the guy with the ball. If we do those three things, then then that is our goal to help the defense run, to make the plays and hustle and to make the plays we are supposed to make by getting off of blocks."

On if Phillips can fill in at WILL, where Wilson was taking many snaps:
"The WILL possession, a lot of our guys have been playing it, and Jacob is plenty fast enough. The WILL position, you just have to learn your angles will when we are in our zones and you have to be able to cover man – tight ends and backs. We are in the process of evaluating some of those things with Jacob, but so far, he has done well."

On his comfort level that Browns LBs will be able to contribute despite the experience in the room:
"I think it goes right back to how we train them. It goes right back to our coaching philosophy and everything we are trying to do in this building and everything we have set out to do, the plan laid out by (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry. We are approaching everything one day at a time. It really is the next play the best play. We are coaching them that way. We are expecting them to go fast, be physical and play so that we can figure out who can learn. Of course, there are times where the lights are going to come on and there is noise in the stadium. Now, this year, I do not know if it will be as much noise – it might be pumped in noise. We are going one day at a time, and we are letting them earn it. In our room, they have put themselves physically in a position to have a chance by having a great offseason. So far, they are shedding and running to the ball. We are just going to leave it at that. We are going to compete, and we are going to let the best man win. Then as coaches, we are going to see what they can do, which we are starting to learn – I will not share all that right now – and then we will put them in a position to be successful."

On if all of the Browns LBs are cross-training for every position:
"There are guys playing specific positions. Like we mentioned on here, B.J. Goodson is in front of the huddle the most and has done a great job. We know a little bit more of how that is going to roll, but there are a solid four guys with Sione, Tae, Jacob and B.J. that are all rolling in and have a chance, and they are competing. We will use them in certain situations. There are certain things that they do well. Some of that we will see as we go through. We still have a long time in camp, not as long as normal but we have some weeks here. Most of the scheme is in, and we will see how they keep progressing. If they keep going like we are, we feel like we have a group that will do the things we just talked about."

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