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Press Conference

Week 3 Browns coordinator press conferences - Priefer, Monken, Wilks

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer:

Opening statement:

"Obviously, a big week for our football team, an exciting week, divisional opponent op the road. This one, we have to go get. Another reason why it is exciting for me is my youngest son who attends the U.S. Naval Academy is a junior. He is bringing over 13 of his buddies, and guess who is buying the tickets? My wife and I. He wanted to get 20, and my wife said 10 so I compromised closer to me wife's number than my son's number so I do not get in trouble at home. We are buying 14 tickets for those guys and going to be some rowdy midshipmen up cheering for the Cleveland Browns during the game, probably up in the nosebleed seats on Sunday afternoon."

On if there was a rivalry established with former Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg:

"No because I did not face Coach Rosburg very often. When I did, he usually got after us pretty good. Coach Rosburg has retired and his assistant took over and Coach (Ravens special teams coordinator Chris) Horton is doing a phenomenal job. He is picking up right where Jerry left off. With (Ravens Head Coach John) Harbaugh being in change and being an ex-special teams coordinator – he was one of the best, if not the best in the NFL when he was coaching special teams – there is going to be a big emphasis for Baltimore with their special teams, as it always is. It is going to poise a great challenge for us, and I look forward to it. I kind of like that. We went up against a good special teams unit Sunday night against the Rams, and I thought we did pretty well. Hopefully, we will do the same or better on Sunday afternoon, but we have our work cut out for us. They have a great kicker, a great punter, a veteran snapper – he is one of the best in the business. They have (Ravens CB) Cyrus Jones returning the punt, kind of a late bloomer. I kind of liked him coming out of Alabama a few years ago, but he is really starting to come into his own last year and this year. The rookie kickoff returner (Ravens RB Justice Hill), who is built like a rock and he is going to run people over unless we wrap him up. I talked to our team about gang tackling him and getting to the ball. It is going to be a very challenging afternoon for us, no matter who the special teams coordinator is because they have good players."

On LS Charley Hughlett being listed on the injury report and if it is cause for concern:

"No, I think Charley is doing fine. He practiced yesterday with no issues at all."

On if he has ever seen the drop-kick like the Ravens did last Sunday:

"Never seen that. We showed that today in the meeting. I have never seen it before. I do not know what the rule is. They have to come up with something because that was offside, illegal formation, illegal motion or something. It had to be some sort of penalty. I do not know. I am sure the league has not seen it before either. I guess that is them trying to be creative. You can fair catch that ball because the ball never hit the ground after the drop-kick. As soon as his foot hits it, if it goes straight up in the air, you can fair catch it, which Kansas City wisely did. I do not know. We are ready for anything. He has a really good onside kick and surprise onside. We will be ready for all that stuff."

On if teams are being more creative on special teams because of the new kickoff rules:

"I guess that is thinking outside the box. I do not understand it. It obviously did not work, but it could work, I guess. I think we do some creative things with our kickoff coverage unit in terms of the kicker putting the ball in the corner and letting our guys cover, twist and move and make our guys hard to block. Our guys have embraced that. So far this year, we have done a pretty good job of kickoff coverage. Every week poses a challenge or threat based on who their returner is and what schemes they use and how they block and this is a very well coached team. My creative thinking out of the box is how we can cover better, cover what they do well and stop what they do well."

On P Jamie Gillan's punt that went out of bounds:

"It does happen unfortunately, especially young punters or even older punters. He had the one that you are talking about is the 21-yarder. I think he rushed it. He did not feel any pressure. We blocked it up perfect, but he felt like he had to get it out of there quick. Maybe I over-coached him on that, which I probably did. Dropped it inside and punched at it rather than kicking it, but he made a mistake and he learned from it. He punted the ball well yesterday on a windy day in practice. I think the one thing about Jamie, the great thing about him is that he has a short memory. He came back, that one we punted from the two with 4:56 I believe to go in the game. We are down by seven, and that game could have been over right there. If we kick a line drive punt with that returner and they return it to the 30 and they kick a field goal, they are up 10 and the game is over. He launched a 51-yarder, and it was a 5.28 hang time. It was a phenomenal kick. (CB) Tavierre (Thomas) went down and we tackled them for a 51-yard net. Then our defense got a turnover, (CB) Juston Burris had an interception right after that. That to me shows that he has some mental toughness. That was very encouraging for us to see that."

On what makes Thomas a strong special teams player:

"He loves it. It is so important to him. We have a locker room full of those guys. He is fast, he is tough he is smart and he studies. He was very well prepared for that game like you will have to be again this weekend. We put him in spots where it is going to be more difficult for him than for other guys because we are going to put him blocking their best gunner or going against their best kickoff cover guy when he is kickoff return and in every phase. We even have him on the field with block team because he does such a good job in that phase as well. Tavierre like a lot of our guys have bought into what we are coaching and their attitude has been good. We have some leaders starting to emerge in that locker room on special teams, and usually, those are the younger guys anyway. I like the direction that we are going. We just have to start having success and helping our football team in all facets, not just covering a punt here and covering a kickoff there. We have to get our return game going consistently and we have to help our offense with field position, as well."

On the number of games special teams has a significant outcome on the result in a strong year:

"If we play sound and solid and we play almost even and win the field position battle, obviously, those are the games I think you are talking about that are you should do that and that is what you expect. You are talking about games that we go out and win. You are hoping three. A big return that sets up a field goal at the end of the game. A big kickoff return in the second quarter that puts you up by 10. We talk about making impact plays across the board. One thing that people fail to realize – you guys understand because you guys cover it so much – a lot of people fail to realize is you can make an impactful play on kickoff coverage. You tackle them at the 17-yard line with two minutes to go in the game and then they got to go 83 instead of 75. That can be an extra 10-15-20 seconds, whatever the case may be. Or you kick off from the 50 and pin them deep on a high, short kick, you attack them at the eight, where you force a turnover or you force penalty, all those little things that we talk about and emphasize all the time. Try to make an impact play every single time you go out there because you really do not know when that play is going to occur throughout the course of the game. You do not know if it is going to be the first quarter, the fourth quarter, overtime when that opportunity is going to arrive. That is what we try to prepare for every time we go out there."

On if kick return is more challenging with the increased number of touchbacks and limited return opportunities:

"It depends on the time of the year. Right now, we are going to get more touchbacks as it gets colder and windier in the stadiums that we play in. We hope to get some more opportunities. We are going to prepare every week like we are going to have opportunities. We are not going to have 15-18 returns. We are going to have two or three returns that we do really well in practice that we prepare for, knowing that we will not get as many opportunities. As the year goes on, we hope to get a few more. Baltimore's kickoff team is outstanding. They have been challenging people like we have. They have been covering kicks really, really well. We intend on being prepared. We are going to be prepared for them to challenge us, and we have to go out there with that mentality. A good kicker like (Ravens K Justin) Tucker is going to kick touchbacks when he wants to, but if they want to challenge is, we have to be ready. We just have to make smart decisions back there with the football and not bringing one out from seven-eight deep like we did when we had (former Vikings and Bears WR/KR) Cordarrelle Patterson and we were doing that all the time. He was pretty good at it."

On where Tucker ranks in the pantheon of NFL kickers:

"I think Justin Tucker is the best kicker in the game right now, and he has been for years. He makes pretty much everything. Their offense crosses the 30-40 yard line, it is almost automatic. We have to put some pressure on him off the edge and pressure on him inside. We have to do some creative stuff with field goal block to try to put some doubt in his head that he is a confident young man. He has always been a good kicker. Hopefully, he stubs his toe in pregame. It is hard to stop a guy like that."

On kicking in M&T Bank Stadium:

"I do not have a ton of experience at Baltimore. It has been several years since I coached there, but I would imagine it is like any outdoor stadium. You are going to have days that are beautiful like I think it is going to be on Sunday and you are going to have days that are cold and windy. About six or seven years ago, we played there and it was snowing like mad. It was that weekend where the whole field was covered in snow. Obviously, it is not going to snow Sunday, but you just do not know what you are going to get so we go out there. I do not worry about it during the week. I think the guys do not talk about it, but they will check the weather on the side. When we show up on gameday, that Sunday morning late morning for pregame, we will kind of figure out our gameplan from there."

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken:

On how much has the Ravens defense has changed since last season with new personnel:

"Schematically not a lot. (Ravens defensive coordinator) Coach (Don) Martindale is still there and does a great job so that has not changed. Obviously, without (Arizona LB Terrell) Suggs, (Green Bay LB Zydarius Smith and (NY Jets LB) C.J. Mosley, some of it has changed. Some other guys, they have Ravens (Ravens OLB Pernell) McPhee back. He is a guy you have to keep an eye on. He is twitchy and can do some things off the edge. To me, they are the same. They lost (Rams S Eric) Weddle, but they brought in (Ravens S) Earl Thomas. They have really good personnel and do a really good job schematically. Maybe a little bit [different], but not enough to really talk enough about."

On the process for offensive play calls:

"I am not going to get into that in terms of how we do things and how we collectively do things. That is not anything. There is no reason to get into that. Everywhere I have been, we do it collectively as a staff and we move forward from there."

On signs the Browns offense is improving:

"Signs we are improving? I think that would be saying that we have struggled so I will not get into that. I think we have run the ball fairly well. I do not think that has been an issue most of the time. To me, it is a matter of collectively putting plays together and stacking them. That is how you become consistent. At times, we do that and at times we do not do that. When we do that, we are a pretty good football team offensively. That is what we control when we stack plays, do not get behind the chains with penalties or lost-yardage plays that put you in a tough spot. I think that is probably the number one thing that you got to do to be more consistent."

On if he is saying that the Browns offense is not struggling:

"Again, when you say struggling then you are asking me to pinpoint where we can be better. That is everywhere. Obviously, we are not satisfied with where we are at offensively so obviously we have to coach better and we have to play better. That is just the start of it. That is the simple answer to it. Internally, we have to do better to be more consistent. That is the bottom line."

On how to help QB Baker Mayfield return to the level of performance from late last season:

"I was not here so you are speaking to something that I do not know. I do not mean that negatively. I can only speak to the three games I have been here. As I would refer back to what I just said is, we have to collectively do things better, starting with us, and then the players have to be able to execute it on the field. With pre-snap penalties, we have had that happen. We had a lot of them three weeks ago and then this past week, we had four of them. We have to consistently do things better preparing up to practice, in practice and then that will carry over to the field."

On why the Browns used RB Nick Chubb more against the Rams, given Chubb played all but two offensive snaps:

"That is not normal. Moving forward, we would love to have with any position when you have guys to be able to get them in the game and contribute."

On sustaining drives more often and the key to doing so:

"I know I am going to say the exact same thing. We have to scheme it better, we have to practice it better and then we got to take what we do on the practice field to the game. Really, that is it. I do not know what else to say. I will say that, I have said it since I started coaching and I will say it until I decide not to coach any longer. The plan that we come up with and then how we go about during the week of getting the correct looks, our guys being able to execute then, gaining confidence from that and then being able to carry that over to Sunday. Then obviously we have to be able to go out there and do it."

On if the Browns offense is going to get there sooner or later, given it has only been three games, multiple people have said the unit is close and the team has the personnel in place:

"All true. All true, and that is our job. Our job is to figure that out. This is what we are paid to do. We are paid to figure it out and utilize the talent that we have and carry that over to the field. It is frustrating when you do not. There is no way around it. It is never one thing. If it was one thing, you would be fighting like hell to correct that one thing. There are more things than just that. Ultimately, it falls on us as coaches at the start, what we do in practice and then taking it to the field."

On overcoming WR Odell Beckham Jr. getting doubled almost every play:

"Teams are aware of when you have a dynamic receiver. We had (Buccaneers WR) Mike Evans in Tampa and teams are aware of their skillset. They are going to scheme towards that and either hint a safety or cloud to a particular player. You have to be able to find ways to get him the ball. At times, move him around or at times schematically against certain coverages, even when they cloud, that allows you to get him the ball. There are more times than you think where he is singled up. You have to find a way to get him the ball, and that is what you try to do. Sometimes he is singled up and you are running the football. Sometimes it is a situational thing. Obviously, when you have a really good player, you are trying to get him the football. That is obvious."

On if the Rams showed a matchup or tendency at the end of the game that led the Browns to line up in an empty formation multiple times:

"I am really not going to get into our game planning. That is nothing that is going to help us down the road as to why we did what we did. We just obviously thought that would be the best chance to get in."

On if not having a lead blocker impacts the Browns offense's gameplan:

"Sure it does, but that is not the reason why we can't execute better. You are right, if you do not have a fullback, that does limit certain things. We are working (TE) Pharaoh (Brown) into that role a little bit, but obviously, it has nothing to do with the way we have executed up to this point."

On if things are not running smoothly at practice, given his comments about executing in practice and taking things to the game:

"No, that is not really what I said. There is something to that. Sometimes it goes smoothly in practice and it does not end up in the game because you are not going against the best in the world, if that makes sense. Sometimes what looks good in practice does not end up carrying over to the game. The play call that you have dialed up and then all of a sudden you jump offside, you go to a different call and you do not get back to that. There are a lot of things that go into it. Something that does not look as well that we just did not do as well in practice. You can only have so many reps. Down the road, you are really good at what you do over and over and over again. That is true in everything. We just have to continue to do certain things over and over and build an identity of who we are."

On how Mayfield has balanced when to leave the pocket or staying in it:

"It is hard to speak for him in terms of what he sees in terms of what is in front of him. I do not mean seeing in terms of protection-wise just what he sees, is there leakage or is there a route that ends up not in a particular position. I think he is a guy that has been good in the pocket, but he is also a guy that has been elite when he does escape. A guy with that kind of ability and trying to make a play at times ends up escaping and getting outside the pocket trying to make a play. There are a number of reasons that goes into that."

On if the Browns are OK with Mayfield 'taking off whenever he feels is best':

"I do not know about that. You left that open ended of 'whenever he feels best' is a little bit of a stretch. He is the one that has to play the position. I am not out there playing it. Are there times with every quarterback that we have ever been around where you would like them hanging in the pocket longer? Of course. There are times where they hang in the pocket and you go, 'God, I wish they would escape for God sake.' That is not an easy answer. There are times with any quarterback you want them to be in the pocket longer, and there are times where you go, 'Wow, it would be great if he can escape and make some plays on the move.'"

On the Browns TEs' performance without TE David Njoku available:

"They were fine. Pharaoh is going to continue to improve. We got (TE) Ricky (Seals-Jones) up a little bit and get him going. (TE) Demetrius Harris has been steady all along. We probably could use more from him and need to utilize him more in the run game and the pass game."

On the biggest thing missing with the Browns offense without Njoku and where the Browns TEs can step up:

"David is a guy that can stretch the field. He has done that before here. Plays in the red zone that we have seen him make. The other things that ends up happening when you lose a player that is a starter is that all through camp and David was a dinged up starting is those guys take a lot of reps. When you lose a player that is a starter, he is taking whatever percentage of the reps you have had up until that point so everybody else play a little bit of catchup, like any position. The other guys have talent. That is why they are in the NFL. We just have to keep bringing them along and utilizing their skillset to the best of their ability."

On G Justin McCray:

"He has been fine. For a guy that came in here a few weeks ago, he has played well – as well as could be expected that has not been with us, running the system and battling. That has not been the reason. At times, he is going to get beat like all of our players. He is no different than any of our players or any of our players that are going to get covered. You are going to have times losing one-on-one battles. We have been pleased with him."

On if he contributes to the discussion of challenges from the booth:

"I am not going to get into our communication and how that works. Obviously, I am on the headset with (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens).. You will have to ask him. I am sure you already have so that is it."

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:

Opening statement:

"Good morning. Last week was a good game, but it was not good enough from the standpoint of we need to find a way to hold our opponents to three points in the red zone. I think that was really the difference in the game when you start talking about red zone defense. It was not good enough last week. We were able to create some takeaways, which was great. I thought we stopped the run well, which was one of our gameplans going in. (LA Rams RB Todd) Gurley (II) was so dynamic. It is not going to be any different this week when you look at what the Ravens are able to do offensively with (Ravens QB) Lamar Jackson and (Ravens RB) Mark Ingram (II). We have to do a great job stopping the run. They are very dynamic in what they are doing across the board. They are able to take the top off with (Ravens WR Marquise) Brown. I think he does a great job for us just putting pressure on the defense vertically up the field."

On simulating Ravens QB Lamar Jackson in practice and game planning:

"Playing Madden (laughter). To be honest, he is probably the closest thing that I have seen since (former NFL QB) Michael Vick. This guy is extremely dynamic. He can make plays when you do not think there is a play there to be made. He is just Houdini, I guess. Phenomenal not just with his legs but his ability to get the ball down the field, as well. One of the great things that he does when he gets outside of the pocket is he is not just looking to run. His eyes are still down the field. He is trying to push the ball down the field, and that is what they have been successful with lately."

On if CB Denzel Ward, CB Greedy Williams and S Morgan Burnett will be able to play against the Ravens:

"We do not know yet. Those guys are still trying to work back into the fold so we will see exactly where they are at the end of the week."

On the performance of the Browns secondary with four starters unavailable:

"They play dynamic. No reservations whatsoever last week. Those guys have started in this league, played a lot of football and they went out and performed well last week. They have the support of their teammates and the support of their coaches. I thought the assistant coaches did an outstanding job in really preparing these guys and getting them ready to play. Particularly, when you look at (S) Juston Burris, (pass game coordinator/secondary coach) Joe Whitt spent probably 48 hours with him around the clock just trying to get him up to speed with the gameplan, and he went out there and performed well."

On the Chargers limiting Jackson last season and if the Browns will look to emulate that gameplan:

"It is not so much trying to emulate what the Chargers did. We are just trying to put our guys in the best position to be successful. Really, you have to stop the run first with Jackson as well as Ingram, and we are going to try to do that the best way that we can that fits within our scheme. They have so many different weapons. I like No. 89 (Ravens TE Mark) Andrews. He is a dynamic tight end that we brought in to Arizona a couple of years ago with the 30 [pre-draft] visits. He is definitely coming into his own. He is performing well. They find him on third down, and they find him in the red zone. As I already mentioned, No. 15 Brown so we have a lot of weapons that we have to make sure that we try to stop."

On Ingram:

"Toughness, the physicality, a downhill runner, which is just another element of Lamar being able to pull the ball so you get caught up really trying to play downhill. Then all of the sudden now you are soft on the perimeter. There are different elements to what they do, and I thought he brought a lot to that offense, along with what Lamar was able to do already."

On how unique the Ravens offense is, particularly with a mobile QB:

"Really breaking them down and pulling back the layers, different personnel groups, you are going to get all of it but it is really all of the same. It is just bodies in there but the illusion, they run the same thing with 13 personnel that they do out of 11. That is where they try to get you a little bit with window dressing. It is all of the same. It is a college offense. It is really what he did at Louisville and those kind of things and (Ravens offensive coordinator) Greg Roman and his background with (former 49ers QB Colin) Kaepernick when he was at the 49ers. Whenever you have the element of the quarterback being able to run the ball, you have an extra blocker. That is what it does. We are preparing well for it. We have seen that offense before so I am very excited to go against the offense. I am very pleased with where we are right now with our game plan."

On if the Browns begin preparation for the Ravens and Jackson during the offseason:

"We do an offseason study of our division opponents and some of the teams we crossover with in the divisions so yes, we did do that. Very dynamic in what he is doing, trying to find different ways we can come at him and find different ways that we can stop Ingram as well. We started back in the spring so hopefully, we have something good for him on Sunday."

On if dual-threat QB are sustainable in the NFL from a health standpoint:

"He is very skillful, very elusive out in space. It is a little different in college so I understand where you are going in regards to that. Guys at this level, you have some defensive linemen and linebackers that are just as fast as these quarterbacks. I think as you hear them talk and some of the things they try to get him away from running as much and really get him to push the ball down the field. There is always an element of when your quarterback runs that you put them in harm's way. We will see."

On how Ravens RB Gus Edwards complements Jackson and Ingram in the run game:

"Dynamic. A one-two punch. You really want to look at three because all of them have the ability to be able to run the ball. Our No. 1 goal each and every week is to stop the run. I think everybody puts so much on this league being a pass-happy league. I have said it time and time again that there is nothing more demoralizing to a defense than 15, 20, 25-yard chunks right there. It really just takes the wind out of your sails. They are going to rotate them in and out, and we are going to have to do a great job of stopping the run and try to get them into third and long."

On the benefit of having strong tacklers in the Browns secondary and if that is a benefit:

"It is always a benefit when your corners come up and support the edge, and that is what we believe in within this defense. I have no reservations whatsoever about (CBs) Terrance (Mitchell), as well as T.J. (Carrie). These guys have played a lot of football in this league. They performed well and they did a great job last week, and I think they are going to do the same thing this week, as well."

On if he shows Browns players tape of defenses going up against former NFL QB Michael Vick:

"We have shown different clips of when Greg Roman was with the 49ers and what he did with Kaepernick. I have not really looked at Michael Vick, no, but I do consider as I said earlier that Lamar is the closest to that."

On the Ravens having depth at TE, the Browns depth at safety and if that was part of the Browns' personnel strategy:

"Not so much. I just think we try to keep the best guys that give us the best opportunity to win. I think they have good tight ends. They are going to mix the personnel in and out – 13 and 22 – but it is all going to look the same. They can spread you out and make it look like 11. Andrews No. 89, to e, is a receiving tight end. He is just as good as any tight end that we are going to see in this league."

On having CB Tavierre Thomas in Arizona and his future potential:

"It is hard to say, we like him here. We let him go early in Arizona. We were going to bring him back on the practice squad and then Cleveland picked him up. He is a major part of what we are doing special teams wise. Everybody sometimes puts special teams to the backburner, but it is a major element of what we do. It is a strong point of emphasis, and that starts with (Head Coach) Freddie (Kitchens) as well as (special teams coordinator Mike) Priefer. I like Tavierre. I think he does a tremendous job for us."

On the performance of the Browns DL against the Rams in Week 3:

"You always want more, but I thought our D line did a great job. No. 1, really controlling the line of scrimmage in the run game and staying in our gaps. We did a great job setting the perimeter of the defense. We knew they were going to try to get outside on the jet sweeps. I thought that is where it started. At that particular point in time, once they started trying to get the ball down the field, you saw (DT) Larry O (Ogunjobi) get a sack. I thought we were getting good pressure on the quarterback at that time."

On if watching film is more beneficial when studying Jackson than what can be simulated on the practice field:

"I think it is. I think it is a point of emphasis. You can't relax. You have to go to the echo of whistle. That is something that you talk about all of the time, but it is very pertinent with this guy and the things that he can bring. You can't relax on this guy. When you think he is down and when you think you are in position and then all of the sudden now he makes one move and all of the sudden he is out in open space. Yes, it is hard to simulate that in practice."

On switching the Browns DL's positioning and alignments:

"The thought process is constantly trying to move our guys around and create different matchups. You are going to see (DE) Myles (Garrett) on the right side, and you are going to see Myles on the left side. Last week, you saw him inside trying to create one on ones with the guards. We are going to do that with all of our guys across the board because teams are going to try to turn protection, and they are going to try to chip. We have to find ways to free our guys up. That is what you are seeing."

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