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

By Nate Ulrich Published: June 11, 2014

Browns coach Mike Pettine met with reporters today after the second practice of mandatory minicamp. Below is a transcript.

On the scuffle at practice: “I talked about it afterwards. We’re all wearing the same logo. We always use the phrase, ‘Competitive not combative.’ That line gets crossed every now and again, but I also think that’s a byproduct of what we’re trying to build, the mentality. It’s something that I think it happens; as a coach you frown on it, but at the same time it’s something that you understand it might be the price of doing business.”

On if Browns OL Garrett Gilkey being involved in both scuffles this spring is a pattern: “That’s probably an accurate interpretation. There are some guys that are maybe more apt to get involved with it, just by the nature of how they play.”

On if the scuffle went too far: “Yeah, that was one, especially because of Gilkey’s hair. There might have been a hair pull or two at the end. I think that’s why it took us awhile to get it broken up.

On Gilkey as a player: “He’s had a good camp for us. He’ll be right in that mix in competing for that guard job. We talk about competition at all positions, and that’s a good example. He’ll be in there with (Browns OL John) Greco, (Paul) McQuistan, and some of those names fighting for those inside jobs.”

On if the transition to the NFL is difficult for an offensive lineman from a small school: “It is. I think he’s handled it well, but that is tough for a guy that hasn’t gone against that level of competition. He’s been solid. The coaches have been very pleased with his progress so far.”

On if McQuistan is primarily playing guard: “I see McQuistan as a swing [offensive lineman]. He’s shown that he can play. I don’t know if he could play center, but I think we’d be comfortable at any other position. I don’t want to kind of just pigeon-hole him as, ‘Hey, he’s a backup, and we’re just going to use him as a swing guy.’ He’s capable of starting. He’ll compete for a starting job, but he’s also shown the versatility that he can play some other spots.”

On if the Browns offensive line can be elite: “We’re hopeful. I think it’s a good combination of guys, different styles. I think they’ll perform well in the system. I think the system will help them. I’ve been very fortunate to have hired an (Browns offensive line coach) Andy Moeller and a (Browns assistant offensive line coach) George DeLeone, I think, two of the better guys, well-respected offensive line coaches in the business. I feel like with George, we actually have a second lead coach. I know they split up and do a lot of work separately – centers and guards, and tackles alone. I feel that group is in good hands.”

On Browns DB Justin Gilbert’s progress: “He’s on the learning curve. He’s kind of put himself in some situations where he’s testing his ability to make up. I think a lot of corners – I don’t want to say play scared – but they’ll stay on top, and they get beat underneath a lot. I think the elite guys can let a guy get slightly past them, but know with their make-up speed and their length that they can still make a play on the ball. I think that’s what this time is form is kind of testing his limits and getting used to the speed of the NFL game and NFL receivers.”

On preferring to have two press-corners: “The one rule that’s truly in favor of the defense is the ability to make contact within the first 5 yards. I think anytime that you’re giving the offense what we call ‘free access’ into your secondary, I think you’re doing them a favor. It’s always been our mindset that if we can get a chance to roll up our guy and impede his release that a lot of the passing attacks that we go against are based on rhythmic or based on timing, we feel that it’s in our advantage anytime we can be disruptive in that way.”

On how much Browns assistant defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn can teach the secondary: “Aaron’s done a tremendous job so far, he and (Browns assistant defensive backs coach) Bobby Babich. I’ve noticed in the short time that Aaron’s been here that their technique, their footwork especially [has improved]. That’s critical for those guys that their footwork just becomes second nature to them that they don’t have to think about it. They’ve already show significant progress in that so far.”

On how much of an advantage it is to have corners that can play man-to-man: “It’s a huge advantage. Just look at the math of it: if you can allocate two corners to two receivers, as opposed to having to roll a guy over the top and waste an extra [defensive back] on top of a receiver, I think just from a math standpoint [it’s an advantage]. Football, when you break it down, a lot of stuff is based on math. You’re trying to get the maximum number of defenders at the point of attack, and when you’re just trading one for one, that’s a positive thing.”

On how limiting some of the veteran wide receivers affects what the receiving corps will look like by the season: “I think that does put us a little bit behind with the uncertainty of what that lineup is going to look like, but we wanted to be prudent with (Browns WRs) Miles (Austin), and Earl’s (Bennett) taken some quality reps; (Nate) Burleson’s just working his way back in. We’re hopeful that when we get to training camp –we get Travis Benjamin back; we get Charles Johnson, we get a chance to see what he can do – that hopefully we can settle on a lineup quickly and develop some chemistry with the quarterbacks.”

On WR Josh Gordon’s status: “No, there’s no additional update there.”

On Gordon not practicing today: “He just has a minor ding. He won’t go tomorrow, either.”

On if he led the charge to pick a cornerback in the first round of the draft: “No, I don’t want to say led the charge. I think (Browns General Manager) Ray (Farmer) and I are very much on the same page, as far as what we’re looking for. He understands the defense conceptually. What we did, as a staff, is provided for the scouting department a generic list of player rankings – like quarterback being the most important position on offense, left tackle more than likely the second; defensively, an elite corner No. 1, an elite pass rusher No. 2 and ranked the positions, no names attached, just generic if we would be picking by position only. I thought that was a worthwhile exercise, and I think that helped him understand what we were trying to get done. He knew it was an important thing and that when we talk about players on the board, where they get sequenced, that it will have an effect on the sequence, where a quarterback might get pushed up a little higher, a corner might get pushed up a little higher versus maybe a guard or a tight end just dude to the value of the position. 

On what wide receivers have jumped out at him so far, in addition to Austin and Burleson: “I think all of those guys. I think (Browns WR Andrew) Hawkins for sure. I think some of those other guys too. We saw (Browns WR Kenny) Shaw make some plays today. (Browns WR) Willie Snead was doing well until he had a minor injury that’s kept him out. I think that’s a good young group, and I think that’s the plus side of having those guys out that it really gives us a chance to hopefully find a diamond in the rough with some of those other guys.”

On Hawkins’ strengths: “Short area of quickness, the ability to get in and out of breaks. There was a play today that the defense was called, the coverage was ‘51 double’, which meant double him, and he still got open. That’s when (Browns offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) got after (Browns defensive coordinator Jim) O’Neil a little bit and said, ‘You’re going to have to put three on him. He’s a guy that can win in the slot, and I think it’s important that if you have a guy that can win at tight end, and we think (Browns TE) Jordan (Cameron) can be that guy, and when you can win in the slot, that causes some issues defensively, when you have to now allocate maybe two defenders to the slot receiver as opposed to one. It goes back to the math problem. You can only allocate so much. You’ve seen passing attacks – and certainly something (Browns QB) Brian’s (Hoyer) used to – you see passing attacks over the course of football, a lot of times the third receiver, in some people’s opinion, is more important than the other outside receiver.”

On if he and Shanahan have discussed involving both Hoyer and Browns QB Johnny Manziel in the offense: “It’s too early. That conversation will occur, but it’s too early at this point.”

On if it’s special for his father to be watching practice this week: “It is. He’s been watching some of the practice tape so we had – I don’t want to call it heated – but an Italian conversation this morning before practice, he, I and Coach O’Neil. It’s great to have him here. It’s just another guy not necessarily who’s immersed in the scheme, but I always say it’s nice to get the 30,000-foot view sometimes, instead of when you’re deep in it, where he can make some comments. A lot of times I tell him, it’s sometimes how you say it, how you package it. Usually the content is accurate, but sometimes my defenses go up when he delivers the message the way he delivers it.”

On feeling the need to tell Hoyer to relax in order to take pressure off of him: “I don’t think you really want to mess with a guy in that way unless you see it becoming an issue or a guy that’s just pushing too hard. If that voice inside of his head is what drives him and that’s how he wants to compete and push himself and that works for him, then I think we’ll leave him alone.”

On Hoyer showing frustration after incompletions at practice: “You’ll see most quarterbacks, when they miss a throw don’t walk away from it feeling real good about themselves.”

On his father as the original “blunt force trauma”: “I learn from the best (laughter).”

On if Browns DB Joe Haden is teaching Browns DB Justin Gilbert: “He is. Joe has done a really nice job of taking not just Justin, but I think that whole room of corners under his wing. That’s the room  that I think we changed the most, the most dramatic changes as far as a depth standpoint – the ability to add (Browns DB Isaiah) Trufant, Gilbert, (Browns DB Pierre) Desir, (Browns DB) Aaron Berry and supplement Joe that way. He’s been great with those guys.”

On what he’ll tell Gilbert that he needs to do coming into training camp: “Every coach is meeting between now and – they’ve already started – the end of the week. They’re going to get with their guys and meet with them and talk about exactly that. It’s every player on the roster, ‘Here’s where you are. Here’s what you need to work on. Here’s going to be the plan for you in training camp, and hopefully down the road.’”

On what Gilbert will be told going into training camp: “I think it will be more technical stuff. I think there are maybe some concepts that he’s a little bit more familiar with maybe because he’s played them before. Some of the things that (Browns secondary) Coach (Jeff) Hafley and the rest of that crew think he needs to work on specifically.”

On Manziel being drafted by the San Diego Padres: “My first question was I didn’t really even realize that he played baseball. I think it was back in high school, and I didn’t even get a chance to talk to him about it.”

On if the Padres used the draft pick as a publicity stunt: “I don’t know. When I heard it, somebody texted me about it, and I didn’t think it was that big of a deal because the kid’s die-hard football. It was a bit of a surprise.”

On football players playing two sports professionally: “If he had been a standout college baseball player and was doing both, but if you talk to him…I know somebody next to me is waiting, ‘Well, we would talk to him if you let us (laughter).’ I’ll answer for him, he’s football through and through.”

On if Manziel improved from yesterday’s practice to today: “I’d have to look at the tape because a lot of the time, even though I’m standing behind the offense, I’m looking at what’s going on the other side from a mechanics standpoint. There are some things that flashed, and I’ll get a better feel once I get in and get a chance to watch the tape.”

On if Gordon needs to step his effort up at practice: “No, that’s something I think he’s made progress with. It wasn’t just him. I think that’s one thing that we stress to our guys when we come in is that we want to finish. That’s a big part of making sure, whether it’s a receiver catching a ball, with the defensive line when the ball is thrown turning and running, the offensive line when the ball is thrown covering down the field, each position has its own little definition of what ‘finish’ is. That’s something that he’s improved on, but just like some other guys, there’s some room for more improvement.”

On if he appreciates players like Hawkins, who have taken several tries to make a roster: “Yeah, that’s a credit to his perseverance, his mental toughness. I think there’s some guys that would have packed it in and said, ‘Hey, this isn’t for me,’ but he was confident in himself and he knew eventually if the circumstances were right, that he would get a chance to shine. If you had to rate our players in the spring he’d, be right near the top.”

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