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

By Nate Ulrich Published: July 28, 2014

Browns coach Mike Pettine met with reporters today. Below is a transcript from the news conference provided by the team.

On how the first day in pads went: “First day in pads, I thought our guys were solid. I thought they were taking care of each other. You still don’t want to go to the ground. We’re not going to cut block and tackle guys to the ground. We always talk in the meeting about being a good teammate. As much as you want to finish a guy, that’s something you don’t want to do when we’re all wearing the same logo. Overall, I thought it was a good start to our padded work, but I say that and then my opinion might be totally different 45 minutes from now.”

On DB Johnson Bademosi delivering a tough hit: “I don’t like that. It’s football and sometimes instincts take over to kind of drop the shoulder, but we don’t want to do that to each other. It still falls back to the competitive, not combative. I told the guys that that stuff is not going to help them make the team. We want to be tough. We want to be nasty, but we want to play within the rules. We certainly want to protect each other while we’re practicing.”

On how long it’s been since he’s been with a team that tackled players to the ground in practice: “Every team I’ve been with, we’ve done it at some point. We’ve done it on our short yardage day, which will be this Thursday coming up. We will be live this Thursday for certain periods of the practice, but right now when we’re in 11-on-11 and we do the inside yard drill, that will be thud. We’re going to thud guys up but then drive them back there and let them go. We will have tackle-to-the-ground periods on Thursday and then in the scrimmage.”

On how days without pads are tougher on the offense and if he’s pleased with the offensive line’s protection: “I think it is tough sledding for that group because we don’t really defensively hold back on the install. We have a certain schedule that we need to keep, given the inventory that we have defensively. That makes it tough on an offense. They’re getting a lot of looks that they don’t typically see. We do some exotic things that probably very few other teams do in the league that really stresses the protection rules. There are going to be some pains early with the protection, but I think once they get used to it and see it, I always felt like going against what we do helps them prepare which most teams aren’t going to do as much. I’m a big fan of the ankle-weight theory. I’d rather practice be tougher physically, be tougher mentally than the game.”

On how many running backs he’s expecting to keep: “I don’t have a number. We’re going to look to keep the best 53 players, but you don’t have a set number. If you have a guy that’s a really good player that you don’t want to cut, you want to find a way and maybe just get creative with cross-training guys to keep your best.”

On if the wet field slowed the team down today: “No, I think our grounds crew is outstanding. When they came in this morning to talk about it, they said that there’s no standing water on the field. Nobody is sloshing around out there. I didn’t notice a difference between the surfaces from the last couple days.”

On if WR Travis Benjamin and WR Charles Johnson were held out today because of a “pitch count”: “Yes, it’s just their fifth day of work. We wanted to go ahead and force a day off. Some of those guys practice so hard that they’re their own worst enemy. There will be some guys that we just keep an eye on during practice, the amount of reps they’re getting. We can back them down. We have real-time information that we know to back them off. Other guys will have a set day, and with receivers, given the amount they run – two guys coming off ACL (injuries) – we just want to be cautious.”                                                                                                                          

On cross-training players and if he’s done this in other places: “Yes, it’s part of the program. You just have to make sure that guys have their original position mastered or they’re on their way to mastering it when they start to do some other things. When it’s a 53-man roster and all of the sudden it’s gameday and you’ve only got 46 guys up, you might only have three outside linebackers for two spots or three inside backers for two spots; you need a guy that can swing. Practice is the time to find out who can do what.”

On the battle between DB Buster Skrine and DB Justin Gilbert to start at cornerback: “It’s still early. We’re going to keep rotating them. I think they both came out and have been solid from Day 1. As I said with the other positions, we’ll put more weight on the live work. When we get to a scrimmage, when we get to a preseason game, those will carry more weight than the practice reps.”

On if he noticed Gilbert today as it seemed like he got his hands on a lot of passes: “He did. I heard he made a heck of a play over here. I was over watching the inside run. I wanted to know what the crowd reaction was for it. He’s flashed. He’s a rookie. He’s got a lot of stuff to work on, but he’s flashed some of the things that we saw coming out of college. That’s one of the reasons we took him where we took him.”

On saying he really wanted to hear practice today and his takeaway from the day: “It was a good start. I thought our guys were flying around. A lot of teams will just tag off in 11-on-11 or even the nine-on-nine work we did, but we want to get in the habit of thudding. I think tackling is the hardest thing defensively. You can’t simulate it in practice. You can tackle a bag or tackle each other and simulate it, but there’s no substitute for live tackling. For obvious reasons, you don’t want to do that. I think thud is the next closest thing where, ‘Hey, if I have an aggressive angle to a ball carrier, I’m going to go thud him up and wrap and drive him back and let him go and let those guys finish their runs. I think that’s important, and the better we get at that in practice, I think it will pay dividends in games.”

On liking LB Chris Kirksey’s development so far: “Similar to Gilbert, he’s flashed, but I think he’s got a ways to go. He’s certainly shown, especially today, why we took him where we did.”

On if Gilbert might return kicks: “Not at this point. I think he might be, in a case of emergency, the last kick-return guy. It’s tough. I think I’d hold my breath or watch with one-and-a-half guys covered if he was returning a kick.”

On if it’s intriguing to watch Gilbert return kicks practice: “It’s much more intriguing for (special teams coordinator) Chris Tabor than it is for me [laughter].”

On if he has a sense of who he wants returning kicks: “He’s rolling out guys now. I know that Travis (Benjamin) was a big part of the return game last year. I think he feels good about his depth there, and we’ll answer that question as he gets closer.”

On if anything stood out on tape yesterday in regards to the quarterbacks: “(QB) Brian (Hoyer), I thought, was sharper than he was the first day. (QB Johnny) Manziel was inconsistent, did some good things and then probably did some things he would have taken back. I think that’s just all part of it.”

On if he thinks Manziel’s biggest struggle is making reads: “I just think it’s true of any rookie trying to learn an offense, especially the just difference in offenses there. It’s not just with him. I think it’s with all players. Some plays, you’re going to have some good ones; you’re going to have some bad ones. You hope that you can minimize the bad ones. You have a learning moment on a certain play. You learn it. You tuck it away and you don’t make that mistake again. We tell our players that they’re responsible for all the coaching points at their position. Even if Johnny made a mistake, Brian needs to make sure that he tucks that away and learn from it as well. That’s true at all positions.”

On looking like there was more zone-read with Manziel than with Hoyer and if that will be what they’ll go forward with: “It’s the install. (Offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan’s) offense in Washington was a combination of it. It was something that he wanted to go ahead and get in early. We saw some elements of it today. Certainly, if you have a guy that’s more mobile, when you’re calling plays for him in live situations, you’re going to lean towards an inventory of plays that suit his skillset. I just think, at the end of the day, we’ll see more of that with Johnny than with Brian.”

On if practice was tough enough for the Coach Mike Pettine Sr. today: “No, or as (Jets Head Coach) Rex (Ryan) likes to call him, the real Coach Pettine when he would come into town [laughter]. I usually get about a page of notes a day sitting on my desk. He’s enjoying it. He sits in on the film sessions. It’s been great having him here.”

On how the hitting drills were like under Coach Pettine Sr. as a player: “A little different, a little more old school.”

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