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

By Nate Ulrich Published: August 20, 2014

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

On how much he hopes this decision will ease whatever burden might have been on QB Brian Hoyer during this whole competition: “Yeah, I think that’s part of it. I think he’s handled it well. I think if you asked him, there was some stress there, but that’s part of football. We want to distress our guys. We wanted to put them in tough situations. We talk to the team all the time about mental toughness and dealing with adverse conditions. That was something that they went through and had to deal with, and I think it will only make them stronger.”

On if he thinks everyone underestimated how much stress was put on Hoyer between battling for the starting job and trying to come back from injury: “I think the injury was a big part of it. I mean, he’s really – he hasn’t had that many true reps with a live pass-rush. I think anybody – it took (WR) Travis (Benjamin) some time to get back, (WR) Charles (Johnson) some time to really start to feel it. I don’t think it’s any different at the quarterback spot.”

On how much more pressure is on guys when you go ahead and open it up into a competition as opposed to if you had named a starter back in June and if that pressure is real when guys are going through this: “I think it is. That’s a big part of football is dealing with an adverse situation or a competitive one. We don’t ever want a guy to feel like, ‘Hey, I’m good.’ There’s no better motivating force in all of athletics than pure competition. I think that guys get a chance to kind of see where they are. When the heat is on, you see how guys react to it.”

On if there’s any indication on Hoyer’s film that his knee is affecting his throwing: “I don’t see it.”

On if he thinks Hoyer’s knee affects him mentally or psychologically: “That’s something you’ll have to ask him, and maybe it’s a subconscious thing. I’m not sure. The injury didn’t occur in the pocket. I don’t know how much there is to that, and I’m not sure how he would answer that.”

On if he told the quarterbacks his decision himself: “I told them this morning.”

On how QB Johnny Manziel took the news: “As expected.”

On what that means: “He’s a competitor. He wants to be out there, but he knows there are some things he needs to work on and it’s his job to press on and prepare every week as if he’s the starter. I think that’s on anybody that’s not in the starting position. They have to take that approach. I don’t care whether it’s a quarterback, a corner, a defensive lineman. They have to put themselves in that position to take those reps as the starter whether it’s mentally or physically. Physically, there will be fewer reps. I think he really has to dial in on the mental part, but he knows the task that’s ahead of him.”

On how he thinks Hoyer handled the pressure: “I think he had a lot going on. We’ll see how things are for him now. I think maybe there’s some sense of relief or some re-found confidence. I just think he was dealing with a lot coming into camp where he was a hometown guy and was the starter, but he had a draft pick competing with him. Then, certainly we’ve already discussed it here, there’s just coming off the injury. I think that’s a lot on a young guy’s plate.”

On how, from the outside looking in, statistically, he didn’t handle it very well: “Well statistically, I think I don’t get wrapped up in the numbers there. I think he had some drops that you could factor in, some routes that were run at the wrong depth, at the wrong angle. It’s easy to look at the numbers. I think when you look at the tape, it tells a very different picture.”

On if he could sense relief from the team that they finally know who the starting quarterback is: “I couldn’t sense it when I announced it to the team this morning. There wasn’t anything that you could sense at that time, but yeah, I’m sure when you talk to the guys that will likely factor in.”

On if they seemed any more in sync on the practice field today: “Today was our first day not in pads and I thought they handled it well. I thought we had good energy after coming off of a day off. I think we’ll go in the same format tomorrow because we showed we can still have a productive practice and not be in pads. I think, given the short week, we want to keep our energy up. I think that’s important to be able to practice like that. I thought we had a positive day. I think you can attribute it to a number of things.”

On why he ultimately decided to end the competition now instead of let it play out until after the next preseason game: “Because of the reason before where I had kind of targeted this week. We wanted to have a starter in place because there’s no substitution for live game reps with the guys that you’re going to be playing with. There’s so many plays that involve being on the same page. If you never got a chance to practice them together, and more importantly, be in a game situation together, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice. We wanted to make sure it was – because I talked before when we announced that it would be a competition – finding that sweet spot between if you do it too early then they really didn’t compete at all and if you do it too late, you run the risk of now nobody is ready for the opener and you don’t have cohesion, chemistry, things that I’ve talked about. That’s why we had targeted it and felt when we met last night that we had enough information to go ahead.”

On if he would have done anything differently looking back: “I know there are a lot of different ways to do it. This is the way that we chose. I think ultimately it depends on – because we’re all judged here on wins and losses – how it plays out. As far as coming up with a plan, formulating the plan and executing the plan and this is how we want to do it, I feel confident with it. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, I regret doing it at this point.’ I know when you looked at the game, it’s easy for people to say, ‘Well, they can’t get in a rhythm because they’re not out there.’ That’s something that – we wanted to put them in tough situations and see how they handle it. I know there are a lot of different ways to do things, but we were confident in our plan and we stuck to it.”

On Hoyer’s leash and if there will be a package for Manziel or is this Hoyer’s job: “No, this is Brian’s job. This is Brian’s job and I never think of it as a leash or we want a guy to be a game manager. We want him to be confident and go out and play. People looked at our roster. We’ve added running backs. We looked to improve the offensive line. We want to be a well-rounded all-weather offense. We need to be productive. You can’t have one without the other. I think you have to be productive in all phases. I think it starts with the run and it starts with pass protections, but I don’t want our guys on offense to feel like there’s any type of governor there and they can’t just cut it loose and be aggressive. I think when you feel like you’re going to be solid on defense, that allows you to be even more aggressive on offense.”

On if he thinks if Manziel would have dedicated himself to sticking around the facility after the draft and working, he would have had a better chance at the starting job: “I don’t question his dedication. I don’t. He made tremendous strides from an x’s and o’s standpoint from the time he left here after the, I think it was the rookie symposium, until the time he came back. I know there’s been a lot of discussion about his activity, but he clearly studied and studied a lot and came back significantly ahead of where he was when he left.”

On what comes next on the development of this team now that he has the quarterback situation settled: “Chemistry is a big part of it – getting guys out, playing together, starting to narrow the package down to fit what we do well and then start to get a little more opponent specific. We’ll do that this weekend with the Saint Louis game. Then you’re always kind of looking at the season in chucks. We did some good work as a staff in the offseason on Pittsburgh and New Orleans and Baltimore. I think it’s getting to the point now with camp broken, where we need to go ahead and start to look ahead to that first part of the season.”

On if he’ll have a package for Manziel: “I was already asked that.”

On not being present when the question was asked: “It was asked while you were standing here. Didn’t you ask me that? No. The plays that he would run if he got into the game would be more suited to him, but I don’t foresee us now, especially early, being in a two-quarterback system.”

On if Manziel will play sometime this year: “Give me a crystal ball. I’ll tell you that answer. The NFL season is so long. So much can happen. We don’t ever want our player – and I’ve talked about this already about the quarterbacks – we don’t want Brian looking over his shoulder thinking, ‘Hey, if I make one bad throw, I’m out.’ Over time if you feel you need to make a change – and it’s not just at quarterback; it’ll be at other positions as well. You have guys that you have penciled in who you’re hopeful can be that guy for you the whole year, but that rarely works out in the league. Time will only tell. You could foresee a scenario where he doesn’t play this year, and then there are other scenarios that are absolutely possible as well. It’s hard to tell.”

On if he’s figured out watching the tape why some of Hoyer’s throws have been inaccurate: “Nothing from a true mechanical standpoint. Those guys would be able to answer that best. I just think they were two throws – I don’t know whether it was a case where he over-strided. The (WR Andrew) Hawkins one is tough because he was so explosive out of the break that Brian threw it to a spot and ‘Hawk’ (Hawkins) was so fast getting out of the break that he essentially over ran it. Brian knows, lesson learned, that Hawk is a guy who’s going to eat up some ground in a hurry. The plus is he’s going to be open. The minus is that it’s a tougher target to hit.”

On if his receivers are getting open enough: “We are. I think we can get better. That’s part of having an inexperienced group in the system. I think we made strides with that in camp, and then hopefully we’ll take another step with that this weekend. We told our guys at halftime at the Washington game that we need to make plays. The NFL is about making plays. Our guys have to realize that – that somebody’s got to step up and we’ve got to put it all together. Whether it’s a quarterback making it, a running back making it, whatever it is, offensive football especially, is about guys making plays.”

On making a permanent commitment to a starter: “No, I don’t want to make a permanent commitment to any starter. I just don’t think you can do that. I think you make more of a commitment to your quarterback because of circumstances that surround that position, but I think you need all your guys on your roster running scared a little bit that, ‘Hey listen, if I don’t perform – this is a performance based business – if I don’t perform, I’m not going to be in here.’”

On an update of DL Desmond Bryant: “Des (Bryant) did have wrist surgery. His return, we’re just not sure of the target yet. We don’t think it will be long, but I still don’t have the full details. I know it went well, but we don’t know if he’ll be available for the opener or not.”

On if it’s an Injured Reserve thing: “It’s definitely not an IR thing.”

On if he has any other positions that have been settled that he’d like to name: “Yeah, the other ones we feel like we can kind of job-share a little bit. I thought (DB Justin) Gilbert played extremely well the other night. There was one coverage where I thought he played off a little bit too much, but I think for the most part, for his first time out there, he had a great look about him. He took the field. He was confident. He was smiling for a lot of the game. Sometimes rookies get that ‘dear in the headlights’ look. He didn’t have that at all. We haven’t decided yet. It’s a little bit uncertain with (DB) Buster (Skrine’s) injury, but Justin will likely be the starter on day one. I think (LB Chris) Kirksey and (LB Craig) Robertson have both earned a spot on this defense, so I think they’ll really both be starters based on what package we’re in. It really depends on what personnel group the opponent’s in.”

On who will start at right guard: “You could say (OL John) Greco at this point. I think the starting five on the o-line has been solid for a while.”

On if he was happy with the running game last week: “I thought we ran a little better. I thought (RB Ben) Tate showed up a little bit more. He averaged five yards per carry. There were a couple, you know, there was one four-yard run he turned into a seven-yard run. I thought that was good. (RB Terrance) West has done some good things. He’s learning. I think that competition is still wide open for that third running back spot.”

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