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Transcripts: 9-17-2021 Press Conferences 


How did you feel about your first game in a long time?

"It was a little rusty. There's some things that I got a chance to work on this week, and just hoping that I can go out there and play a little bit better."

How close do you feel to being fully back?

"Still taking it practice-by-practice, day-by-day. It's a long season and it's a long process. At this level, you work on that every week of the season, and then you'll work on it until the end of the season."

Would you say the rust was mental or physical?

"Both, mental and physical. Just getting back in the game, and some things, where my feet are, some techniques and just stuff like that."

What about the chemistry with your fellow linemen, especially OL Max Scharping? How do you think that went with limited practice?

"Great, because all of us interact with each other every day. The offensive line room, we're in there learning the same thing. We have a great room, so we're allowed to talk to each other and share each other's thoughts throughout the meeting. It made it easy going in there and communicating with him, because we all talk to each other and communicate on a daily basis."

Is there anything about your play that's surprised you so far?

"Nothing surprised. Like I said, just trying to keep improving, trying to keep improving until I'm playing at my best level."

What would it mean to go on the road and beat a very good team away from home?

"It'd mean a lot. We're just putting in so much work and so much time. That's the goal, is put in the work, put in the time and go out there and perform our best, and hopefully come out with a W."

Can you talk about the matchup between the Texans offensive line and Browns defensive line, especially with DL Myles Garrett and DL Jadeveon Clowney?

"Man, those are two freakishly great athletes. I played against both of them throughout my career, and every single time you see why they're so good. They're both fast, they both move around, they have great movement skills. It just seems like they're out there and they get the freedom to do what they need to do to make plays, and that's what they do. It's going to be a great challenge versus two great guys. The whole defense, they're a pretty good defense."

Last week, you were able to keep QB Tyrod Taylor pretty clean and upright in the pocket. What would it mean to go into Cleveland and do the same thing?

"That's our goal. The less we hear about ourselves is the better. We're going to do our best to keep him up and keep him from being touched. That's our job, and we aim to do our job."

How did the conversation with the coaches go this week regarding you being on a pitch count, and are you prepared to play a full game?

"I'm just doing whatever they tell me to do. It's kind of like I said before, we've got a great staff, very knowledgeable in the communications there. I'm going to do whatever they say. If they say, 'Hey, we looked at your numbers and it looks like you could do this,' then I'll do that. If they say, 'We don't like your numbers,' or something, I don't know. I'm just a player and I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help the team, and whatever they say that is, that's what I'm going to do."

What was your first impression of Head Coach David Culley?

"Well, my uncle played at Vanderbilt, and Coach Culley was a coach there. And then Marshall Newhouse, a good friend of mine, played with him. So I kind of had – I'm sorry, not Marshall. Marshall played with (James) Campen, but my uncle played for Culley. I guess he was an assistant coach, or something like that. So I kind of got a little bit from him. First meeting him, going to the office and talking to him, it was pretty cool. He's a pretty down-to-earth coach, but he's very knowledgeable and he's great. It's awesome being able to play for him."

Have you had conversations unrelated to football with Head Coach David Culley?

"We've had a couple conversations before. Just about how things were going for me, just normal, new player, coach conversations. Yeah, I'm very excited to play for him."

How did it feel for you personally to be back out there on the field again?

"Man, when we first got out there, I could feel my feelings kind of raising up, because man, I really missed this game. I really missed it. I had fun, great times with my family. My kids are homeschooled, so we got to do little P.E. workouts before and hang out with them, go fishing in our pond. Just do stuff that I usually wouldn't get to do in that year. But I'd be lying if I had said I didn't miss it. It's hard to watch games sometimes just seeing everybody out there, my friends and everybody just having a good time, flying around. But coming back, it was kind of emotional and I was excited to come and play. I'm very thankful. I thank God every day that I'm back and I'm here this year to play, and I'm thankful and I'm going to make the best out of it."

Were you more nervous for this past game than you were for some of the others?

"I've always been nervous test-taker, no matter how much I study. It's always, I wouldn't say nervous about doing something wrong, just nervous because you always strive to do everything right. We know that may not be possible, but that's where my nervousness comes from, because I want to do everything right and I want to make sure I'm not letting the team down. So that's where I get a little nervous. But it goes away once the game starts. You get out of your head, and you're like, 'Chill out. You've done this before. Go out there, play free.'"


From a coverage standpoint, what have you seen from the Browns secondary?

"They have guys that have range, that have speed, that can cover the field. Good ball skills. You know, you see lots of instances where a receiver or tight end has the ball caught and is coming down and they are able to play through hands and get it out. So, they have a good finish even when people think a play is over."

Did you guys do anything special for Head Coach David Culley's birthday?

"We had a moment where they played a video for him in a team meeting. We made all the rookies get up and sing him 'Happy Birthday.' Standard procedure."

Who is the best singer?

"There is no good singer in our rookie group. It's actually surprising. Typically, in a draft class, there is one person who is talented. This is a first for me."

Who's the worst?

"Who is the worst? Pretty much all of them. They are pretty bad. They are actually really terrible." 

Did you all laugh at them?

"I mean at this point we have heard them sing a bunch of times. That's why we keep making them do it." 

Who is the best rookie you've ever had sing?

"That's tough."

Are there no good ones?

"There are good ones. There are guys who are typically talented at one thing or another. It doesn't necessarily have to be singing. You know, they have rookie talent shows and things like that. But, for some reason this year all of them wanted to sing and they were all terrible. But in the past, we have had guys go up there and do comedy sketches, we've had guys go up there and dance, sing. And they were actually legitimately good at what they were doing. This year, I am glad they are good at football."

What did you do your rookie year?

"I probably did a sketch with some people just making fun of some coaches in our weight room. I'm pretty sure that's what it was. It's really not that hard. There is comedy material all around the building all the time. People just don't pay attention." 

Can you sing at all?

"A little bit."

What would it mean for this team to go into Cleveland and shock so folks and get a win?

"It's what we are here for. We are here to do a job. We prepare to do a job. When we go out there and find success it's not a surprise to us, it's something that we have worked for. So, we are just going to continue to dot i's and cross t's. Go up there and play solid football. Not beat ourselves and let the dice fall where they may."


What do you think about the challenges the Browns bring, especially in the run game?

"They've got a nice, sound offense. Just old school, smashmouth football. They've got two good backs. Now really, they're good at just about every position on the offense. It's going to be a good challenge for us. We're prepared, we had a good week of practice. Coach (Lovie) Smith put together a great plan for us to go out there and succeed. I have all the faith in our guys, and I think we're going to go out there and play hard, and go try to win this football game."

When you say 'old school', is it noticeably different from other opponents around the league?

"Yeah, they're looking to run the ball. When you have two good running backs of that caliber that can take it the distance, lower their pads, run behind their pads, but they still have that top-end speed, that's their main source. They're looking to pound the ball and see what type of defense you're made of. It's a good-style offense, and they do it pretty well. They're coached well over there. We're coached well over here, too, so it's going to be a good game. We're just going to go out there and try to win this road game."

WR Chris Conley gave us his assessment of the rookies singing happy birthday to Head Coach David Culley. What is your take on it?

"Terrible. Terrible. Nah, I'm just playing. It's good that the rookies stood up, had some fun singing for Coach Culley. Coach Culley has an energy to him that's unmatched. We wished him a happy 66th birthday, so it was cool."

What's it going to be like for you to go back to Cleveland after spending most of your career there?

"It's kind of weird, but I'm looking forward to it. I know a lot of guys on the team, just being a part of the organization for six years of my career, it's going to be one of those games where I know I'm going to be hyped. Just ready to go out there and compete and get this win for the Texans."

Are you able to use your knowledge of the players you know on the Browns as part of a defensive strategy?

"Just knowing the style of play, certain guys on that offense, I know how (Nick) Chubb runs, I know how some other guys play, but they've got a whole different scheme from when I was over there. I'm going into it with the preparation of a team that I never played before. That's my mindset, to take what I've learned on film and take what we practiced, and just going in with that game. Just go out there and do the best that I can. In the past, yeah, I played against the other guys in practice, but like I said, it's a new scheme and I haven't been there in two years. So I'm just going with the approach like they're new faces."

Do you have a fondest memory from playing there?

"You've got to let me think about that, it's a lot of memories."

Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith was talking about how you have to be prepared for everything with the Browns on all downs. How do you prepare for something like that?

"You've just got to trust your technique and trust what you have been coached. When there are a lot of moving parts to an offense, or when they're doing a lot of different things, you've just got to trust your fundamentals and trust the technique that you were coached to do. When you get your eyes right, it'll take you to where you're supposed to be. That's what I fall back on, my technique and my roots."

How do you feel you guys defended against play action last week?

"Last week was game one, there's some things that we need to clean up. We'll see if we can get that done and see how it goes this week." 

Being a veteran in this league and having a lot of veterans in that locker room, is that what helps you put last week's victory behind you and move onto the next week against Cleveland?

"Yeah, we know that in the league things change. And at the end of the day it was the first game. Yeah, we want to build from it. But you never want to be too low, you never want to be too high. You kind of want to be levelheaded and just keep putting in the work. You will get what you want out of it. As much work as you put into it, that's what you're going to get out of it. So, we don't look and dwell in the past, good or bad. We just have to keep moving forward."

What would you say about the challenges that the Browns tight ends present?

"They got some good tight ends that stick out. It's Austin Hooper and David Njoku. Guys that's athletic. They kind of can play like a glorified receiver. I know David can, with his top man speed. A tight end is a quarterback's best friend, with just a quick throw or sometimes a tight end being a bigger body going against DB's. We know that quarterback's like to use their tight ends, but we are going to stick to our plan. Like I said Lovie (Smith) put together a great plan for us to go out there defensively and do what we got to do."

How do you feel like the linebackers did in pass coverage on Sunday and is there something that you want to clean up on?

"There's some plays that we left out there that we wish we could have back, concept wise. I think we did ok. Just to go out there and to face a team that was throwing the ball quite a lot. I think we did ok, but there is always room to improve and we're not where we want to be."

How would you describe Head Coach David Culley's humor?

"He's almost like a comedian for me, man. I get a kick out of our team meetings when he is talking, making jokes, telling stories. He's a funny guy but there's a time to play and there's a time to get serious. And when he is serious, he is all about his work."

A couple of people have said he likes to tell stories. When he is telling stories, are they stories about his past or what are his stores about?

"He's talking about everything. What he has seen in his past. Stories that are not even about him. Stories that he's heard. Just life experiences. And he knows how to control the room and make jokes out of anything."

What does that do to set the tone of the team?

"Just keep everybody relaxed when it's time to be relaxed. Like I said, he know when it is time to be serious and he know when it's talk about ball. But he also knows that we are all human and you can't be tense and strict all through the day. So, it's a time where we have a break and just laugh and just enjoys one company."

DB Justin Reid said you have to stick to your eyes and your fundamentals, is that something you feel you have to do from the linebacker position?

"Yeah, everybody got a certain assignment that they have on defense. It's 11 guys out there and we are all trying to play together. So, the more you do your job, you just look at your responsibility and what you are supposed to look at and if all 11 guys are doing that, we will be in the perfect position to stop a play. You always have to rely on your fundamentals and go back to your rules and what your eyes are telling you."

Is there anything that you guys have done to prepare with the short week coming up?

"I don't look ahead in the season. The opponent that's right in front of us, that's who I focus on."

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