Transcripts: 9-15-2021 Press Conferences 

HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY

With QB Tyrod Taylor going back to Cleveland, how do you think he will handle all of that playing against a former team?

"I think in his case it's just another game, it just happens to be in Cleveland. I don't think the fact that he's been there and played there will have an effect on him. I think he just knows this is the second game. He knows we have to play a little better than what we did this past game to have a chance to win the game."

What did you think about the pass protection on Sunday and what do you need to do better with the pass protection?

"I thought the pass protection was good. I thought the couple of times that Tyrod (Taylor) came out of the pocket, when he didn't really need to come out of the pocket, it looked like he had pressure when he didn't really have pressure. He should have just stepped up in the pocket and made a couple of throws where he came out and end up getting some positive yardage for that. But I think overall the pass protection was good for the most part in that game."

What would you like to see QB Tyrod Taylor do better?

"I would like to see him be a little bit more consistent and get off to a little bit of a faster start. We didn't get off to the start throwing the football that we need for him to get off to. We just know that the very first pass that we throw could have very easily been an interception, could have had barren on the ball game. Like I said, he missed a throw after that. We have to be right on when we are throwing, especially when we are throwing from the pocket. He's got to be able to get it out and get it out on time."

How much better is he now than when you had him in 2017?

"He's much better inside the pocket. He is seeing things a lot better. I think being the first game, we moved him around a little bit. He was just a little bit off right there early. He is much better in his pocket presence. I think he is getting the ball out better than he was when I had him before. Pep (Hamilton) has done a good job of making sure he's on time and on rhythm. He's just go to continue to do that."

As a longtime receivers coach, what do you think has allowed WR Brandin Cooks to be so adaptable to so many different quarterbacks?

"He's a really good player. He's played with some different quarterbacks through his career. Some really good quarterbacks through his career. He's a guy that can do pretty much anything you need done on the football field. He can run, he's a good route runner, he showed some toughness in this game. I thought those two plays that he made down the field, those two plays could have been interceptions. But he went and attacked the ball, something that with guys of his size you don't see doing. He played big on those plays, and I am just happy we have him. Basically, those big plays he made down the field, were basically just him being a player and making a play like a play maker should."

What do you think went into WR Brandin Cooks and QB Tyrod Taylor working together so well?

"They get a lot of work together before and after practice. They know that in order to be on the same page, you got to be able to know the ins and outs of what each other is going to do. He's kind of getting the feel now of the kind of ball that Tyrod throws. Tyrod is not what you'd call one of those quarterbacks that you call are big, tall, quarterbacks that can see everything. Sometimes when he's back there and he's throwing, you don't see him, so you got to make sure you are in the right spot and Brandin has done a heck of a job being exactly where we need him to be. Basically, in the game, you saw him make a couple of plays because of that."

Will OL Charlie Heck be back this week?

"We are expecting Charlie back this week."

How are you handling depth within the offensive line with him coming back this week?

"We will just see where Charlie is this week. Being out with COVID, there are some stamina issues right there that we have to be aware of. But we will see how it is. Hopefully we will have him back for practice tomorrow and Friday and see where it is at and just keep rotating those guys the way we have been rotating them."

Can you talk to us about what RB Mark Ingram II means for this team, not just as a player but as a leader?

"The thing about him is, when I was with him in Baltimore, he's probably one of the more vocal guys we have on this team. He is not afraid to say what is on his mind. Those guys respect him. He's been around, he's been around some winners. He knows what its like to be a winner and be successful in this league. He also knows when adversity comes somebody has to be able to make sure those guys understand we got to be able to overcome those things. He's one of those guys that you will never see down, he will never let anybody else get down. Basically, I am with him all the time telling him about continuing to do that. Like I said before, when we first got him, I felt like he was a reflection of what I was all about as a coach and what I want out of our players. I am glad he is here."

What are your expectations for WR Anthony Miller this week?

"We will just kind of see in practice how things are. Whether he will be active or not, we don't know yet. We just have to see in practice. But he is physically ready to go."

If you can get him back, what is the significance there?

"We just have to wait and see. Obviously, he and Danny (Amendola) both play inside. We will just let the practice play out and see how we do it when we get to the end of the week."

What do you think are the biggest challenges that the Browns present to your team?

"They've got a defensive end there, that is a pretty good player in this league. They also have (Jadeveon) Clowney, who are pretty good rushers. (Myles) Garrett and him. It's a defense that I think has a bunch of new players this year, that they brought in. I thought in this past game, watching video of the Kansas City game, I thought they did a nice job in that game of containing a very very good offensive team. Offensively, they got a lot of weapons. They got a very good quarterback, they got probably the two best combo running backs in the game. They got skill all over the place and a very good offensive line. It's a big challenge. We kind talk about during the course of the year that you are going to play teams that you consider playoff caliber teams, guys that have been there, teams that are expected to be there. And we feel like we are playing one of those teams this week."

How much closer do you think OL Marcus Cannon and OL Laremy Tunsil are to being where you want them to be and how much work do you have to do to get there?

"Not there ye,t but they are getting there. I think with Marcus, he came out of the game in pretty good shape. We will just kind of see in practice this week. Same thing with Laremy. Again, Laremy was out for a while, and for him to be able to go the distance for us was good. I think there is a better Laremy still there, and I think once he gets his stamina and everything back that we will be ok there."

Can you talk about the defensive line, what you saw when you went back and looked at the film, and what do you expect this week?

"Well, I thought they played hard. I thought we played a bunch of guys there. Unfortunately, Vincent (Taylor) goes down, but again, like I said, there's a lot of depth there. I think I mentioned this before, a lot of the off-target throws that their quarterback had in that game has something to do with our guys not quite getting there, but getting there just enough to throw things off and throw the timing off. I was very happy with the way they played."

In what ways is your defense built to stop a balanced offense?

"Well, basically, the first thing we do defensively is we want to be able to stop the run. Obviously, they want to run the ball just like we do. Basically, we'll just kind of see how the game unfolds and play the game the way we know it needs to be played, and see what happens."

Speaking of stopping the run, what are some things that you saw in the Jacksonville game that you think they can do better going against Cleveland on Sunday?

"Assignment-wise, I thought a couple of times we got out of our gaps. We've got to play gap control defense. Our upfront people have got to be – especially when we do stunts and those kinds of things. They popped a couple of runs when we were kind of out of gaps a little bit, and we've got to correct that. And I think if we correct that, we'll be more consistent in being able to do that."

At one point in training camp you had 10 former Browns players on your team, and you still have a bunch. Is that just a coincidence?

"Just a coincidence, and I think the availability, it just happened to be that way."

You guys were least efficient running to the left side. How much do you think that had to do with OL Laremy Tunsil being out a while, and OL Tytus Howard switching positions and not getting the workload at that position in the preseason?

"I think in this particular ballgame, it just happened that way. I mean, it wasn't so much that it was because of we weren't as effective there. We went the other way, we were more successful doing that, and basically, we'll end up continuing to do that. But obviously, we want to be able to go both ways and be able to go wherever we need to go to be able to be successful."

Do you feel fortunate to have DL Jaleel Johnson back, considering he was with you all that time?

"Very fortunate. He knows exactly what we're all about. Again, when we made the cut to be able to do what we did, we knew we were letting go of a guy that would be in this league and be playing. We're very fortunate right now with the situation with Vincent (Taylor) that we're able to get him back."

Can you talk about OL Tytus Howard and what you saw from him in the first game?

"Tytus needs to be better. I was happy with the way we played, but he can be better. Just like I said, our whole left side can be much better. We expect a bunch out of that side of the line of scrimmage. I thought we were just okay there this past week, and expect us to be better."

Can you update us on how K Ka'imi Fairbairn is doing?

"He's coming along, he's coming along. He's not there yet, but he's coming along."

WR BRANDIN COOKS

Head Coach David Culley described the Browns as a playoff-caliber team. Do you view the Cleveland game as a measuring stick game?

"I wouldn't necessarily say a measuring stick, but he's definitely right. It's a playoff-caliber team, very talented, and we look forward to going on the road and going to battle."

As you've played with multiple quarterbacks throughout your career, have you learned anything about how to establish report as you begin to work with one?

"Yeah, at the end of the day as a receiver, it's the quarterback that's throwing us the ball and making those decisions. So, my biggest thing is always figuring out what my quarterback likes and what he don't like and trying to mold my style."

With the amount of turnover that this team has seen, does it even feel like it's your second year in the system?

"I think every year you're adapting, regardless of if you're on the same team or not. There's always going to be little nuances, and just got to go with the flow."

How do you feel that QB Tyrod Taylor has adapted to this group of wide receivers?

"I think he's done a great job. He's been in this league for a long time for a reason. I think he's done an unbelievable job with us receivers, tight ends, and backs, just getting on the same page throughout this camp."

How did you developed the connection you showed by connecting on those big plays with QB Tyrod Taylor against Jacksonville?

"Practice. Practice, practice makes perfect."

What do you like most about the offense?

"I think the biggest thing I love is how everyone is touching the ball. You can't really just key in on one guy, because (offensive coordinator) Tim Kelly does a great job of getting everybody the ball. I think that helps out in many ways throughout the game."

How have you seen Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly show more confidence as a play caller?

"I'm not sure. I think he's just getting more used to calling it in the game. He's got a year under his belt. Like I said after the game, having a year under your belt I think give you that confidence alone."

How would you describe RB Mark Ingram II's personality?

"I love Mark. We played together for three years in New Orleans, and he has that same energy. He's going to bring it every single day. I mean, the guy is just a dog. Playing in this league for that long and as a running back and still being able to get those yards after contact, he's a special player. But at the same time, he brings a lot of energy to this offense and to this locker room."

Has he always been that hyped up?

"Always, what you see is what you get. In the locker room, in private, he's always hyped up."

What was seeing all three of your running backs score touchdowns like?

"I think that was special. Like I said we are using everyone in this offense, and everyone is getting touches. It was beautiful to see all those guys back there and get in the end zone."  

You have a lot of first year players on this team. How surprised are you to see all of you come together and gel?

"Not surprised at all, especially the camp we had throughout training camp and just sticking together and going to work together. Not shocked at all."

What did you like best about how the offense played this weekend?

"I would say the efficiency. Just being able to sustain drives, long drives. But with that being said, I think we also got to finish better as well."

What was your communication with WR Nico Collins after the game?

"I think at the end of the day he (Coach Culley) has a great point. I think all of us receivers understand that we have a job to do, not just in the pass game but in the run game as well. To see a young guy like that buy in is great. He's a great blocker, great route runner, great catcher. But we all understand that we got a job to do in the run game to."

What have you seen on tape so far with Cleveland's defense?

"You talk about a defense that is flying around. You got those two edge rushers that are coming off the edge in that back end. Denzel (Ward) has been playing at a high level. (Greg) Newsome and those guys back there in the safety position, (Ronnie) Harrison and you know, John Johnson. I played with John Johnson. He's got a knack for the ball. The guy is a great player. But we look forward to this matchup, but they got a lot of talent on that side of the ball."

What do you remember from you battles with John Johnson in practice?

"First of all, the energy that he brings into a defense. But his ball skills are crazy. You see that throughout the tape when he was in LA. I look forward to that, but the guy is a great player and I am looking forward to the battle."

What would it mean to get a win on the road and start the season 2-0?

"I think the biggest thing would be getting the win on the road would be great. It's our first time on the road together in a regular season game. To be able to bring that same energy we have home on the road would be huge if we could come off with a win."

How does Head Coach David Culley hold you guys accountable?

"I think he does a great job. Obviously, we talked about the win, but we also have to focus on the things we didn't do well. So, for him to point those out throughout the meetings this week and after the game is huge, because it keeps us on our toes as well. It's always great hearing it from your head coach."

What was the reaction from him when you guys gave him the game ball?

"He was happy, but for him he's always onto the next. Happy about the situation, obviously that's a milestone in his career, but we got a lot more football left. So, he's kind of like thank you, but let's keep going."

Does it matter who is out there in quarterback or is your mindset just go out there and play?

"That's always going to be my mindset. That's been my mindset my whole career. I've had a bunch of different quarterbacks and at the end of the day, I know I can play. Just got to continue to focus on what I can do and do my job the best that I can and let everything else take care of itself."

QB TYROD TAYLOR

What's it going to be like going back to Cleveland?

"I'm pretty sure this is their first home game, so I'm pretty sure the crowd will definitely be excited. I'm excited to go on the road, group of guys that we have in our locker room, and compete. Great test for us. Cleveland has a very good team in all three phases, so just looking forward to going out there and competing."

Have you followed Browns QB Baker Mayfield's career much since you stopped being teammates with him?

"I have not, I have not. I have respect for Baker, but I have not. I'd be lying if I told you I followed his career."

When you think about your one season in Cleveland, what's memorable for you?

"I mean, obviously, it didn't end the way that I wanted it to end. But I think I grew as a person during that year, dealing with adversity, also becoming more of a vocal leader than I had before up until that time. Their team that we had in Cleveland in '18 was fairly young, so you had to find different ways to lead. Of course, at the time, I want to say I was 28, I think I was like the third oldest on the team. Guys looked at me as the oldest guy, or one of the older players. More vocal at times. It's tough to remember or it's tough to take away from that year, but more important, I think it was more on the personal side than it was actually football."

What are some thoughts about their defensive front?

"I mean, they have one of the better fronts in the league. You have Myles Garrett who's a premiere pass rusher, (Jadeveon) Clowney who has played a number of downs in this league and still is a top pass rusher in this league as well. And that's just not two of them, they also have the two Maliks upfront (DL Malik Jackson and DL Malik McDowell), who do a very good job of rushing the passer and getting after the quarterback as well, too. They're a feisty defense. We have to be clean in protection, as well as in the run game."

What was it like in the quarterback RV?

"That was a sacred space. I can't tell those stories."

What stands out from your time spent with Browns QB Baker Mayfield?

"Just his growth over the year. I mean, obviously, he was thrown into that position in Week 3 after the Jets game, or during the Jets game. Just to see his growth throughout that year was definitely impressive and to see him endure some of the stuff that came up throughout that year, with coach changes and different schemes. But he'd done a great job of handling it, and he's done a great job for the team since then. I know they're looking forward for him to have a big year this year."

What do you think makes WR Brandin Cooks able to adapt to so many quarterbacks?

"I would say just being on the same page, talking through a lot of concepts, whether it's on the field, in the film room, texting each other, just kind of seeking communication and making sure we're seeing the defense from the same eyes. That way when we go out and execute, we can be on the same page and react more so than thinking what one another is going to do. Trust it and react."

What do you think about RB Mark Ingram II's personality and how excitable he is during the games, and what does that do for the team?

"It's one of a kind, and we need it in our locker room. We need it at that position. His energy is unmatched, and he feeds off it as well, too. I think it just makes him the player that he is. I don't think we would want it differently. I love him as a player, and I love his energy and his passion, and it shows each and every day."

With you, DB Terrance Mitchell, TE Pharaoh Brown and LB Christian Kirksey returning to Cleveland, what do you all think about getting the chance to go back and play your former team?

"I mean, any time you get a chance to play against your former team, it's definitely an opportunity for you to showcase how you've progressed as a player. Obviously, those guys spent more time in Cleveland than I did. I was there for a year and started for three games, got hurt in the third one. Everybody's story is different. Am I excited to go back? Yes, I am. But it's not about me, it's about our team here and us working hard throughout this week and us executing on Sunday. It's never about me or my feelings when it comes going to play against previous teams. Yes, that is part of it, but I'm not going to make a big deal about it. It's about me executing at a high level this weekend as well as everyone else in the locker room."

How much better are you now than you were in 2018?

"I think I'm much better. I think I've been able to obviously learn a lot from that year, but also the two years after that with the Chargers. Watching Philip (Rivers), how he prepared week-in and week-out, and even taking an offseason and preparing to become the starter last year and even going into this year. I think I definitely learned a lot and became a better player since then, and that's always the goal, to be better this year than the year you were before. Yeah, just continue to keep growing in that aspect."

What does it mean to you to have OL Justin Britt say there's just something about you that makes him want to play hard and be great?

"I can say the same for those guys upfront. Those guys battle their tails off, play-in and play-out. And obviously, they don't get their credit all the time, because they're not the ones touching the ball. But none of what we do on the outside, whether it's in the passing game or in the running game, can be done without those guys. It starts with them. We appreciate their effort, their physicality day-in and day-out, week-in and week-out, and we go as they go."

How have you worked over the years to become a better passer in the pocket?

"I think just reps over time. I mean, obviously, the more you play the game and the more opportunities you get to go against different defenses, you naturally get better, or you have the opportunity to get better. And if you pay attention to the details in that, then you can get better. I also just think being a part of a couple different offenses since then has allowed me to just learn the game even more, and also understand defenses. I will credit that more so to just pocket passing."

Do you have to fight the tendency to run?

"No, I don't think so. Running always happens naturally when the pocket collapses, and that's sometimes, or a majority of the time, how big plays happen from a quarterback standpoint. We have a ton of playmakers on the outside and the tight end position and running back position as well, too, where if you get those guys the ball and hit them in space, they can make plays for you. So it's never me fighting the urge to run. Those opportunities will come. I prefer to throw the ball, though, for sure."

Do you notice anything different about this team, maybe some more swagger, after you got the first win and surprised a few people in the process?

"No, I think guys – no. No one's getting a big head. Guys are definitely confident in what they're capable of doing, but we also understand that we didn't play a perfect game. There's stuff to clean up, and that's what we're working on this week while getting ready for Cleveland. As far as the swagger, I encourage that. I think it shows a confidence level that you have, but like I said, there's still work to be done. We're not getting ahead of ourselves. We're putting one foot in front of the other, working hard each and every day and just aiming to be the best person that we are."

What do you think about Browns DL Jadeveon Clowney, and him playing opposite of DL Myles Garrett?

"I think that's a very dynamic duo. Like I said, I spent a year with Myles. I understand the type of player he is, and I've played against Clowney and understand the type of player he is as well, too. So having those two guys, they're trying to be the first one to the quarterback, obviously. So for us, this week we're definitely going to have to handle those two in pass protection."

Do you look at playing a playoff-caliber team like Cleveland as a measuring stick type of game?

"Yeah, I mean, each week is definitely going to create its own test. Obviously, these guys were in the playoffs last year, and they have tremendous talent on their roster. Our standard is our standard each and every week, though. For us to be the team that we have to be, we have to meet that standard, regardless of who we're playing."

What do you think about defenders wearing single-digit jerseys? Does it bother you at all?

"No, it hasn't bothered me up until this point. I can see where if you get in a routine of making certain guys the Mike, or just declaring the defense how it could jack you up, but once you watch film, you have a pretty good idea of who's who, what positions they're in. But it doesn't affect me."

How different is being here for you personally after your long journey full of ups and downs?

"It's not different for me, personally. Like I said, the standard is the standard, regardless. I come in each and every day and try to be the best player that I can be, and just try to lead in the best way possible. Ultimately, it's about getting the team to respond in a way that allows them to go out and play winning football on Sundays, and also getting myself prepared to go out and play winning football on Sundays. So regardless of the year, regardless of the role, like I said, the standard is the standard."

You mentioned you guys didn't play a perfect game on Sunday. What do you need to do personally in order to carry that performance you did have, clean up some things and carry that into Sunday's game?

"Just continuing to be consistent. We've done a good job of staying in third-and-manageable, sustaining drives where we as a team, or as an offense, we could definitely finish some of those drives better. And that's something that we're focusing on throughout the week."

Did you hear from QB Deshaun Watson after the game?

"Yeah, I talked to him."

What did he have to say about you?

"He congratulated me, told me 'good game', we (saw) each other the next day, wished him a happy birthday."

OL LAREMY TUNSIL

How did you deal with COVID-19?

"I dealt with COVID, it was like a mini vacation for me. No, I'm joking. I had to battle through some sickness and try to get well, try to find a way to stay in shape and help the team anyway I can when I had COVID. I am glad I am over it and hopefully I don't have to go through that again."

Was it a battle getting back into shape?

"I found a way to stay in shape, especially when I got it. I think I was sick for a couple of days. Just went to a park and started running, just try to stay in shape as much as I can."

What do you think about Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett?

"They are great players. We have to come with our hard hats on and work. It's going to be a battle for sure. In the game plan, we are mixing up some things to get those boys off track. The main thing is stick to our game plan and just come and be ready to play."

What's it like for you to have to be ready for both of those guys?

"I love the battle. Let's do it man. You got to compete and I think that's the best thing about being in the NFL, is you see great pass rushers every week. Got to be ready to compete.

What is it like playing with RB Mark Ingram and what do you think about his personality?

"Man, a huge personality. You see this man every Sunday, he's huge personality. Got to give it to him. He's a guy that's been in the league a long time, an 11-year vet. So, you want a guy like that around the locker room and bring the energy to the table each and every day. Good to have him around, for sure." 

What have you noticed about OL Tytus Howard?

"He's a dog. He's a dog and I am glad that he is next to me. Tytus can play any position on the field and I am glad he is next to me."

What's it been like seeing his transition to guard?

"He made it seem like it was easy, because I actually played guard my rookie year and it was a battle for me. I had some good vets around me. But from coming from right tackle to guard, he made it seem like it was very easy and he's doing very well actually."

How much pride do you take as offensive lineman keeping QB Tyrod Taylor so clean in the pocket?

"Man, we got to do it each and every week. That's our goal. I think that's our offensive line goal, to keep the quarterback clean and untouched."

What sticks out to you about QB Tyrod Taylor?

"He's kind of similar to Mark Ingram. He's an 11-year vet, he's a good dude, huge personality and you want someone like that around us 24/7, somebody in the locker room like that."

Did you say you ran a park?

"Yeah, I was running the park."

Like parks in your neighborhood?

"Random parks. I just had to stay in shape. It was bad."

How far did you run?

"100-yard sprints."

Like parks with playgrounds?

"There was kids out there. Like I had to wear a mask, I am out there sweating with a mask on."

Did anyone look at you weird? '

"Yeah, they did look at me weird, like 'What is he doing?' But I had to stay in shape."

Do you look at the Cleveland game as a measuring stick with them being a playoff caliber team?

"In my opinion, every team that we play is a playoff team, you just never know. It is a measuring stick for us to see where we are at. But we are going to go in there and try to execute the game plan the best that we can and get it done." 

How do you feel about your chemistry with OL Tytus Howard?

"That's my boy. I feel like our communication is key right now between us two, especially with him coming from right tackle to guard. It helps with the relationship we have outside of football, because I can just call him and be like 'How do you feel about this technique, how do you feel about this set?' Our communication is key and it is working very well for us."

Do you like him?

"Yeah I do."

How was it like spending time with your family?

"It's always good being around my family and I am glad they were in town."

What about OL Max Scharping sitting in for you?

"I hope he can do a lot more."

What kind of challenges will there be for the run block going up against Cleveland?

"Let's just execute and get it done. We treat the run game just like the pass game. We want to go in there and execute the game plan and get it done."

How would you evaluate you played on Sunday?

"I'm a tough critic on myself, so there's a lot of improvement for me. I want to just keep improving the run game and the pass game each and every week."

How did you quiet the nay sayers who have doubted this team?

"Let's keep putting on performances like we did last Sunday. That's the only thing we can do. Just shut up and work."

At what point do you feel like you won't have to go run at the playgrounds any more?

"I'm still getting there man, still getting there. Try to run sprints after practice."

What are some things you would like to establish for yourself this season?

"I just want to improve as a player, as much as I can. If that's the run game, pass game, screen game, being a leader, whatever it is, I just want to improve in every aspect."

Did you get recognized at the park?

"No, I didn't. Thank god I didn't."

What does it say about you as a player with missing training camp last year, missing preseason this year and never seeming to miss a step?

"No preseason is cool with me. I'm just joking. That's a huge step for me becoming a vet in the NFL, you know, just know how to take care of my body and prepare for the games like I did this Sunday."

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