Browns coach Mike Pettine met with reporters after practice. Below is a transcript from the news conference provided by the team.
On signing QB Rex Grossman: “We’re always going to be in a situation where if we feel like we can make our roster better, we’ll make that move. He’s a guy that’s very familiar with (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan’s) system. We appreciate what (QB) Tyler (Thigpen) did for us, but we just felt like we wanted to get Rex in here and just see where he’s at and what he can do.”
On why the Browns didn’t go after Grossman to begin with: “I’m not going to get into the specifics of the ‘why’ behind stuff. There are a lot of factors involved. We wanted to give Tyler an opportunity. We did and we felt it was time to go ahead and take a look at Rex”.
On if the Browns will keep three QBs on the roster: “I haven’t gotten to that yet. I think it will also depend on where we are with the rest of the roster – if you get a guy that you absolutely want to keep. (QB) Connor Shaw will get some time as we go on most likely in the fourth game so we can see where he is in a game setting. You have options. OK, do you keep your third quarterback on the practice squad, or is he a guy that’s schooled up and then he’s on the street or do you keep him on the 53? You have some choices.”
On if he views Grossman as a personal mentor to QB Johnny Manziel on this offense: “I don’t think so. I think he’ll help the whole room, not just Johnny. It’s a guy who I think has been in it now. This will maybe be his sixth year; I don’t know the exact number. I think he’ll help that whole room just as far as the stuff that he’s gone through with a lot of the plays. He knows the system as well as he does, and he’ll be able to give them a quarterback’s perspective instead of just the coaches’ perspective.”
On if part of it is that the other QBs aren’t far enough along and they need a guy like that: “No, absolutely not.”
On if there’s a difference between what QB Brian Hoyer brings since he’s never been a full-time starter than what Grossman brings: “Brian is in a unique situation. He does have years in the league, but it’s hard to put that veteran label on him because he doesn’t have that many career starts. In some aspects, he is a veteran because he’s been around for so long in the league, but he’s closer to being a rookie just as far as the number of snaps he’s taken in live game situations.”
On if this makes Hoyer expendable: “No, absolutely not.”
On TE MarQueis Gray being listed as a TE rather than FB: “No, he’s really both. He’s bounced back and forth. When (TE) Jordan (Cameron) got hurt, he went back and took some reps there. He was kind of split in practice between tight end and fullback, and we’re very pleased with the progress of (FB) Ray Agnew. He’s playing well. He’s more of a traditional fullback. That just opens up our options of what we can do down the road.”
On if offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan told him that Grossman is a great mentor and locker room guy: “He is. Tyler was a lot like that, too. That’s why it was a difficult thing, but Rex kind of has that presence as well. He’s functioned well when he’s been out there for Kyle, but at the same time, he’s a good presence in the locker room and more importantly in the quarterback room.”
On if he’s decided who’s starting at quarterback against Washington yet: “No, we’re going to make that decision on the off-day.”
On who has stood out among the younger WRs: “I think (WR Taylor) Gabriel has shown up. He’s a guy who was nicked up in the spring a little bit, and we never really got a chance to evaluate him. He’s shown that it’s not too big for him – that he’s not afraid to go up there against (DB) Joe Haden or (DB Donte) Whitner or any of those guys. He’s not afraid of a challenge. He won’t back down. (WR) Willie Snead has flashed some production for us. He’s done some good things – did well in the scrimmage. I think that (WR) Charles Johnson is starting to get a little more consistent. I think in the beginning, he was a little inconsistent. He’s starting to show improvement. He made a nice catch over the middle today.”
On what he specifically likes about Agnew: “There’s a toughness element with him that he brings. He’s not going to back down to anybody. We did a half-line drill today. He had a lot of kick-out blocks, and he wasn’t afraid to stick his face in there against our guys on defense. His ability to run the ball in short yardage – I think he’s shown that ability as well. He’s been solid out of the backfield catching the ball. You can do some things with a traditional fullback, but again, it’s all going to come down to the roster decisions at the end and how we want that group to look, whether it’s four tight ends, a fullback, Gray bouncing back and forth. Those are all questions we’ll have to answer.”
On if he looks back and chuckles about the interview that quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains did with the Arkansas radio station about drafting Manziel: “He paid his penance for that. We made him wear a visor that said, ‘I’m a dummy,’ for a day during the spring at the walkthrough and took a picture of it and put it up in a team meeting. He learned a valuable lesson. Wherever you think you are, it’s comfortable and it’s back home and there’s a small radio station with not that many listeners, not too many things are sacred nowadays. Everything is going to get out. I think he learned from it. We laughed about it. He came to me today and warned me he was doing media.
On if he’s serious about the visor: “Yeah, it’s hanging in his office right now. He’s waiting for somebody else to screw up so he can pass it on to somebody else.”
On if he’s on track to name a starter by the third preseason game: “We’re on schedule. I think we’re on schedule.”
On what he meant yesterday when he said Manziel has to earn the start in the second preseason game: “Johnny’s going to get reps with the ones. Just to me, the factor of starting the game I think is a little bit overblown in this situation because we’re going to try to balance the reps with the ones in the game. I don’t think it was anything. Brian came in ahead. It’s a little overrated (trotting) out there for the first time.”
On if he thinks there’s enough first team reps in the second preseason game through the first half where if Hoyer plays the first quarter, Manziel can still get that really good work in the second quarter: “I don’t know if we’ll do it by quarters. We want to make sure they’re both getting reps. We haven’t decided on how to do it. We’ll see when we meet on the off-day. I think there are a lot of options on the table I have to get that sorted out – how we want to do it.”
On if it will be by series: “It could be, but it’s hard to get into rhythm if it is by series. That will be one of the things we’ll discuss.”
On how he thinks WR Miles Austin has played: “I think we’re very pleased. I think he’s done a great job off the field taking care of his body. We’ve monitored his reps. I think he feels good where he is right now physically. I think (strength and conditioning) Coach (Paul) Ricci and (head athletic trainer) Joe Sheehan feel good as well. It’s something where we’ll continue to keep an eye on him. He’s a veteran guy. He’ll know the system. If we have to give him a day off during the season, we’ve had guys on those types of plans before. The biggest thing will be making sure he’s available on Sunday.”
On if the game in Detroit shattering the rating record for an NFL Network program was because it was his first game or because it was Manziel’s first game: “My first game. Absolutely (laughter). It’s not a surprise to hear that. I think the phenomenon still surprises all of us. We want attention on this team because we’re a good football team and we’re winning games. It’s nice to have the media attention here, but we want to get to the point where it’s for the right reasons.”
On how OL Joel Bitonio looked to him on the Detroit game film: “He was good. He made some rookie mistakes, but I think if you asked him, he’d feel pretty good about the performance getting that first one under his belt going against some pretty good defensive tackles. He certainly did not look out of place there.”
On if he expects DB Justin Gilbert to play tomorrow: “I do. He should practice tomorrow. He did some light individual work today. He should practice tomorrow.”
On how important it is for him to get some live reps in: “He needs to play. It’s not just that position; it’s all of them. Like I’ve said before, there’s no substitute for live game repetitions. You can practice all you want, walk through all you want, but you’ve got to play. Until you can get out there and kind of see how guys react, you’re never going to know.”
On if WR Nate Burleson is running out of time to show them something: “He’s injured so it’s tough now to get a true evaluation. We felt good about where he was before he got nicked up so hopefully we can get him back there soon. We’re hopeful that it can be later this week.”
On what he’s seen from FB Chris Ogbonnaya and where he fits: “His strength I think, is his versatility. He can play the fullback. I think it comes more into play when you trim the roster all the way down and you only have a limited number of guys on offense and you need a fullback and you need a third-down back and you need a guy that can get you out of a game at tailback. He’s pretty good on special teams for (special teams coordinator) Chris Tabor as well. I think that the versatility is one of the reasons why he’s been able to stick in this league for so long.”
On how important it is for him to stay true to the depth chart when he picks starters for Monday’s game: “I don’t know if I can just answer that until we sit down with everybody involved in the decision on the off-day. We’re all going to have an opinion on how we want to handle it, but it’s not going to be anything earth shattering. The bottom line coming out of the game is that they both should get close to equal reps with the ones no matter who starts.”
On if he plans to do what New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan did and switch spots with a member of the media: “No, not happening. Who did he pick? That’s what I want to know.”
On Ryan switching spots with ESPN New York writer Rich Cimini: “If I had to bet, that would have been who I bet money on.”
On if the competition today was just one play at the end: “Yeah, it was one play – fourth and one, game on the line.
On if DL Desmond Bryant has any sort of serious injury: “No. We just kind of bumped up his scheduled day off. He’s got something that’s just bugging him a little bit. He’s going to get it checked out today. It’s nothing major. We just bumped up his day off so he could get evaluated.”