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Here's what coach Mike Pettine is saying about Browns today

By Nate Ulrich Published: June 10, 2014

Browns coach Mike Pettine spoke to reporters today following the team's first practice of mandatory minicamp. Below is a transcript from the news conference.

On declining Hard Knocks: “Just being a first-year head coach – I had been a part of it before – I just really wanted to get through that first season’s training camp. This was a decision that was made long before the draft. It was just something that I felt in my gut, I just didn’t want to be a part of the first year. I saw the positives of it, but I think there’s some negatives to it, as well. Just not having a good feel for our roster, as far as the chemistry and the personalities and all of that, that’s kind of going into some uncharted territory to agree to do that right out of the gate. I think that’s why the league gives the teams that are the first-year [head coaches] the right to not be a part of that pool of teams they can potentially require to do it.”

On if Hard Knocks makes it more difficult for the coaching staff: “It can. I think it’s just something that you’re…I just always felt if there’s anything that causes us to think for one second about something other than preparing our football for the opener, than that’s probably not a good thing. There are some distractions involved with it. I see the other side of it, the positives that can be there, but from a staff standpoint, that’s something that we have to factor in.”

On if Hard Knocks inquired about filming the Browns again after the draft: “That I don’t know. I’m not sure. I, personally, was not approached about it. It wouldn’t shock me if we were asked about it again, but we weren’t going to stray from our initial answer.”

On the increased intensity from OTAs to mandatory minicamp: “It does, naturally. I don’t know if that was noticeable today. I could feel it just being by both huddles, and just the conversations between the huddles were less than pleasant a little bit more so today than during OTAs. Our guys love to compete, and that comes out. You can tell that. Anytime it’s a situation like we did at the end where it’s an unscripted period and it’s a move the ball – I’m sure we’ll do some two-minute work before this camp is done – where those can get ratcheted up even higher.”

On why the quarterbacks are not available to the media for minicamp: “They had been made available. I don’t think the message will be that different than it was before. It was something that was just in our rotation of things that we just didn’t feel that it needed to be done.”

On Browns OL Joel Bitonio’s status: “He has an injury. He’ll be out of camp. He does have an ankle injury. I don’t know the specifics of it. I just know it’s enough to hold it out of this camp, and I know that he’ll be ready to go Day 1 of training camp. We do have some guys nicked up. I’ll repeat the policy for those who are new: I won’t speak on specifics of injuries if they’re not going to prevent a guy from making the start of training camp. Really, the only guys that are potential holds late would be (Browns WR) Travis (Benjamin), and that would be more of just to give him a little bit of extra time. He could start on PUP (physically unable to perform), but everybody else should be good to go for the beginning of camp.”

On releasing LB Quentin Groves, and if the Browns have enough depth at outside linebacker: “We do. We’re going to cross-train some guys. Kirksey’s going to take some work at outside backer. We always want to be in the position of putting the best 11 out there. We will cross-train guys, and that’s difficult in year one of a program, when you’re trying to get guys to master their original position; you don’t want them to become the old jack of all trades master of none, but at some point, you realize it when the roster gets trimmed down then you realize you’ve got to sit another eight guys on game day that you have to have some guys doing multiple jobs. Going back to the Quentin thing, I won’t get into specifics, but (Browns General Manager) Ray (Farmer) and I discuss the roster almost every day, and it was a move that we felt was in the best interest of the Browns. With veteran players that have a chance to latch on somewhere else, we would prefer to do it sooner than later so they do have the opportunity to move on.”

On developing the wide receivers, specifically younger players like Anthony Armstrong: “Anthony has come in and has just been the ultimate professional. He’s a guy that shows up to work every day. He has a little bit of an advantage coming in because he knew the system, having been with (Browns offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) in Washington. He definitely, despite his age, has some juice left for sure. I’m sure you guys saw that today, and he’s a good example for the young receivers – how to prepare, how to take care of your body, how to be an ultimate pro. The situation has been good. We’ve been able to work a lot of receivers in there and get a look at a lot of those guys. I’m looking forward to camp when we can get that position sorted out.”

On balancing Browns QB Johnny Manziel’s availability to the media with the good of the team: “I understand the balance, but personally my feeling on that is I’m going to err towards the side of the team if it’s close or even to the middle. That’s the approach that we discussed as a staff, and that’s the way we decided to go.”

On if Manziel makes him aware of his weekend plans: “No, because I told him I didn’t feel like he had to come to me every time he was going to leave town. The philosophy here is we’re not going to micromanage the guys. I was involved in an event this weekend that if there were some cameras at certain times, it probably wouldn’t have been the most flattering. It was a group of coaches out. We had a good time, but we were responsible. When it becomes irresponsible or becomes part of something that involves breaking the law or something that we feel is a potential problem, we’ll step in. (Browns player engagement director) Jamil Northcutt does a great job and (Browns player engagement assistant) Russell Maryland with the rookie programs educating those guys. We’re going to bring in speakers for those, not just the rookies, but the whole team just to kind of talk about all the potential issues off the field – everything from financial issues to drugs to alcohol to try to do our best to educate those guys so they make great choices when they’re out of the building.”

On Browns QB Brian Hoyer taking limited reps: “When we’re in that simulated 11-on-11, it’s difficult defensively to use a lot of those reps with the first defense. That’s why we’re rotating the units so much. We’re being cautious with it. To me, it’s too big of a risk to take, the downside if somebody does crash into him. I don’t feel it’s that significant of a difference that he’s not getting the work. He’s still getting the 11-on-11 work, calling the play in the huddle. We feel we’re kind of walking that line down the middle, and I knows he’s frustrated, but he only had two more days to deal with ‘Spartan mode.’ Then, he’ll be full go by the time we get to camp.”

On if Hoyer is losing ground in the quarterback competition by taking limited reps: “I don’t think he’s losing ground. I think he’s frustrated because he says, ‘Hey my unit’s the ones, and I’m not out there with it.’ It’s frustrating for him, but he understands – very begrudgingly understands – why we’re doing it. He is the ultimate competitor. I’m glad that he came and talked to me about it. I’m glad that he feels the way that he is because I don’t think he would be what you’d be looking for in a quarterback if he wasn’t just wearing everybody out to try to get out there full go.”

On if Hoyer gets rid of the ball quicker than Manziel: “It is. I think Brian anticipates very well, and I think that’s one of the bigger differences between college football and the NFL. College quarterbacks, at times, sometimes based on their system, too, they wait until guys get open to throw the ball. That’s a very common thing. It’s rare to have a guy coming out of college who can anticipate the break, whereas Brian understands the windows are a lot smaller in the NFL. I think the younger quarterbacks are kind of finding out how tight the windows are in the NFL. Anytime you can throw it before a receiver’s open and have it arrive as he’s getting open, that’s the way to go for sure.”

On if the coaches know much about Browns WR Charles Johnson: “We don’t. We’re very anxious to see him. We went back and watched some tape of him at Grand Valley (State), and he was impressive there, and just the things that we’ve heard from the information that we got from Green Bay when he was on the practice squad and playing very well. We don’t know much, but he’s a guy that’s been great in the meetings. He knows the system very well, and we’re very much looking forward to getting him out there.”

On if he is concerned about how Manziel is portrayed on social media: “I’m not concerned. I would become concerned if there was something criminal, and I’d be concerned if it affected his job. I think there’s a lot of our guys when they leave here, that if they were followed around, you’d get some very similar pictures. I don’t know about an inflatable swan, but I think you’d still get some pictures.”

On Manziel at practice: “I think he’s getting better. I think he’s getting more comfortable in the huddle calling the plays. I think he has a very nice touch with the deep ball, and he shows that we’ve added some of the zone-read stuff that Kyle had run with RG3 (Redskins QB Robert Griffin III) in Washington. He’s done a nice job handling that. He makes improvements every day, and that’s all that we ask of him.”

On if he’s worried about Manziel putting himself in a bad situation: “I don’t because I think it’s something that he’s used to. I think he understands that it comes with the territory, but I also think he’s a young man that he doesn’t want his lifestyle or how he lives it to be affected by social media. He’s not going to, ‘Hey, I’m not leaving my house.’ I don’t he wants to be that way. It just goes back to we’re not going to micromanage him until we feel it is an issue, and if it’s not affecting him on the field, then I don’t think it’s anything that we need to address at this point.”

On how Browns LB Jabaal Sheard fits into the scheme: “He’s been impressive. He was a guy that we liked coming out of Pitt. I was very encouraged from watching the film from last year. We talk about the ‘Play like a Brown’ attributes, and we want a guy that plays like his hair is on fire. If I had to pick on guy that fits that, the first name I would come up with is Jabaal. He’s versatile. I think we can move him around. He can play with his hand down. He can play up. His drop skills are more than adequate, and he plays violent. It’s tough for him in this arena when it’s no pads. I think he’ll show up even better when we have the pads on and his physicality will be much better used.”

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