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

By Nate Ulrich Published: September 1, 2014

Browns coach Mike Pettine met with reporters Monday after practice. Below is a transcript from the news conference.

On if he meant that they might bring back QB Rex Grossman when he said yesterday that some guys that got cut might come back: “No, I was more speaking in general terms. I think you’ll see it happen with more than one team. There will be some instability with the roster that first week. There will kind of be some jockeying and getting some guys and deciding whether you want them on the practice squad or on the active. I wasn’t speaking to any specific position or player.”

On having 12 DBs on the roster (seven corners) and if it’s because they were the best players on the team or if there’s another reason for stocking up: “It’s probably a little bit of both. We feel that these guys are talented NFL corners worthy of being on the roster. The number is towards the high end, but once you get above your minimum requirements at each position you look to keep the best players in general. You never want to keep a guy just for the sake of filling out a quota as long as you’ve met the position minimum you can function at on game day.”

On why he thinks that position is so important nowadays and some people believing the pass rush starts at the front rather than the back: “Sure, there’s a couple of different ways to get the pass rush. If you don’t feel you have guys that can win one-on-one then scheme it up which is something I think our system has been successful with over the years – matching to whatever particular talent was available. I just think that the trend in the league is to spread offenses even with the matchup and single guys up. That’s a big part of what we do. We don’t play a lot of split safety cover two where corners are really essentially almost playing an outside linebacker-type position. Not much deep responsibility. You need guys who can match up and can run. That’s why we feel we were fortunate to find as many of them as we did and we were able to keep them.”

On if there’s a prototype for corner: “He’s got to have some length to him. I’ve seen them come in all different shapes and sizes, but just given the size of wide outs in the league, I think you have to have length. Make-up speed is important and just a timing thing. You’ll see a lot of shorter corners who can cover taller wide outs because they have a good sense of timing – when to jump, when to play a ball, when to play into the receiver’s hands. The guys who have a real good knack for it are obviously the premier guys.”

On if he thinks he has a good mix of body types: “I think we do. I think if you look at a body type like (DB Pierre) Desir’s, that’s a guy who has good top end speed but has great length that can get up and press, has long arms. Even (DB Justin) Gilbert…just his size, his length – the same thing. (DB) Joe (Haden) is a guy who’s a little bit shorter, but I think he has that great feel for the position and sense of timing that I’m talking about.”

On if he has any more clarity on DL Desmond Bryant’s timetable to return: “Yeah, I think he’s probably – the injury report will come out later – but I think he’s at the point now where you can probably group him into that day to day group. It’s feeling better but it just needs time.”

On if he can see RB Ben Tate having a really big workload with three rookies behind him: “No I mean, the other guys will play, and (RB) Terrance (West) improved in the third down stuff. I wouldn’t say that Ben is going to exclusively be our third down back. If we have to put a guy out there first, it’ll be him, but I don’t think you can have a…in this division I just…in the league nowadays I just think it’s hard to have that one back that just, over a 16-game season just has a lion’s share of the repetitions. I think you have to do it by committee.”

On if he gets the sense that Tate is excited for the opportunity and if he’s been everything he was hoping in training camp: “He has and he’s definitely excited. You can tell he’s got a confidence about him. He does have a chip on his shoulder. He’s out to prove something.”

On if he’s concerned at all that it’s all rookies behind him, even the fullback: “I’m not. It’s the NFL. A lot of rookies are playing. If we didn’t feel that way, then we wouldn’t have gone that way with the roster and potentially could have brought in a veteran guy as that fourth back, but it was a situation where we felt we could make the team better. We trust in our coaches that we can get our guys coached up and be functional in games.”

On if the fact that he has 20 guys on the roster that weren’t drafted and if that number is daunting to him: “It’s not. You just believe in the system, believe in how you’re coaching guys, and I’m also not a fan in general… if you feel like you made a mistake drafting a guy don’t hold onto him. I’ve seen that mistake made over the years. You evaluate when you’re putting that roster together – very narrow focus. Who are our best player and who can help us win? I don’t think how they were acquired comes into focus.”

On if he knows how he’s going to set his game day roster: “Yeah, we do. It’ll come out about 90 minutes before kickoff. We have some options with it. It’ll depend on how the week will play out. We have a couple different…there are a couple different guys. The person that ends up really taxing on is (special teams coordinator) Chris Tabor because he has to kind of know, ‘OK, who do I need to…,’ because those are the positions that are effected the most – would be special teams.”

On how much his plans will be hurt if they can’t throw the ball: “I just think it’s true in football. You can’t be one dimensional. I think it’s the same for the teams that just can’t run the football. They can pass it and all the sudden they get bad weather or they need to close a game out or they need to pound it. They need a yard or they’re on the goal line. Both have to be there to be successful. You cannot be one dimensional. I know it’s an older school mindset, but it’s worked. It’s been tried and true. I think you have to run the ball. The strength of the team needs to be the offensive line. You run the ball, protect the quarterback, be functional in the passing game and be to the point – I’ve mentioned this before – where you’re not in predictable situations.”

On why they were able to run the ball so well in Buffalo when they didn’t have one of the better quarterbacks: “Because one, we made a commitment to it. I thought the offensive line was pretty good at the scheme that was being run, and we had some pretty good backs.”

On his decision to go with a traditional fullback over a guy who’s more of a hybrid: “We did. We evaluated it. The hybrid thing was attractive, but at the end of the day, we just felt that (FB Ray) Agnew suited us better at this point. He can still do some of those things. We can get him out of the backfield. I know he looks like a classic fullback, but there will be times when we’ll be able to move him around some.”

On what he liked about Agnew: “Just his mentality, his toughness, his ability. The fullback in this scheme is more of a search light than a straight downhill thumper which he can do which is good because that kind of helps you also when you are running those types of schemes whether it’s short yardage or goal line where things are a little bit more direct. He’s showed the ability to carry the football over the course of training camp. He was solid running the ball. The few chances he got he could catch it in the flat. Just the feel for the zone scheme kind of searching out his guy – he’s showed a pretty good knack for it.”

On seeing one of the newbies walking off the field, if any of the other guys got here yet and if it’s bothersome that they aren’t all here: “It was more of a logistics thing. The guys that are coming from the west coast, the holiday weekend – just the logistics of getting them here was the issue. (WR LaRon) Byrd is here. You did see him. He got a couple reps in practice today.”

On how he’s going to handle the captains: “It’ll be game by game. We have a leadership council. Those guys really kind of act like the captains on a daily basis, but we’ll do captains by each game.”

On who’s on the leadership council: “The players voted. I won’t go in on the names, but the players voted. It was just a guy from each room.”

On if he expects Pittsburgh to go no-huddle a bunch of the time: “We’re preparing for it. That was a big part of their success last year, especially towards the end of the year. It’s something that…it’s not any secret that it’s something they…that (Pittsburgh QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) enjoys working in. I just think that’s a trend that’s spreading throughout the league. I just think any time you can change tempo that can give a defense trouble. It can limit substitutions and limit the number of looks you can be in.”

On if Haden will go: “Yes.”

On it being hard for new guys to take leadership roles right away when they come to the team and if LB Karlos Dansby and DB Donte Whitner are exceptions: “Yeah, I think it was natural for them. It wasn’t forced, and there were so many new faces. It was new to everybody – new coaching staff, new defensive structure – so it was a little bit easier. I could see if they were walking into a place where the same coaches had been around for a long time and a bunch of the same players and they just brought in one or two new guys and to try to lead. It’s something that comes very natural to both of them, so I’ve never looked at that as an issue at all.”

On if they’ll have to wait for an injury report for OL Paul McQuistan: “Yeah, he’s a tough kid. I’ll leave it at that.”


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