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What's Browns coach Eric Mangini saying?

By Nate Ulrich Published: September 8, 2010

Browns coach Eric Mangini met with reporters Wednesday morning. Here is a transcript from the press conference:

Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini press conference 9-8-10

(Opening statement) -- “Good morning everybody. Just one quick announcement, we had our captains election and the captions for the season on offense will be Jake Delhomme and Joe Thomas, on special teams it will be Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs and on defense it will be Scott Fujita and Robaire Smith.  With that process the guys vote on it and whatever the vote is that’s who the captains are.  I have always believed in doing it that way and what we will do is we’ll get together once during the week and meet sort of a state of the union type meeting. if there’s any suggestions or anything that they want to add or any questions that I have its formalized that way.  If anything comes up during the course of the week at a different time they are always welcome to come talk to me at any time as is any player.  I really like the group of guys that were elected and I think they’ll do a great job.

“In terms of Tampa Bay and talking to the team what I told them is their finish was similar to our finish last season they finished 2-1.  I know there is a little bit of a difference but they beat New Orleans in overtime and they made a lot of progress as the season went on.  I think especially defensively they improved in quite a few categories and as you look at their defense last year they were very successful in the passing game they were 10th in pass yards per game and first downs achieved through passing and it’s an area which I think is a strength of theirs.  The other thing that they have down well is turn the ball over.  Finishing up 10th in the NFL in take aways with the bulk of those being interceptions which again ties into the passing game and then followed by fumbles. They are ninth in the league in interceptions.  This is a team that has the ability to create turnovers and they’ve shown that last year.  In their running game, they had some struggles last season but they have done quite a bit this year in terms of the young guys they have added to the defensive line and some other people they have added to that group. I have seen the improvement in the preseason in that area.

“Offensively it’s a veteran offensive line, it’s a group that’s played together for a while now, they added Keydrick Vincent but he’s a veteran guy. He’s fit in well.  They’ve got that experience of working together and didn’t give up very many sacks last season. I think they run the ball effectively. I think Cadillac (Carnell Williams) does a nice job, he’s a very physical tough back with good balance and the young kid that they have from Hofstra, (Kareem) Huggins, he’s fast a 4.35 coming out of college. It’s a little bit of a different look when he’s in the game.  They’ve shown some Wildcat in the preseason, I don’t know how much they will do that.  They have some options there whether it’s (Michael) Spurlock who’s going to be their kickoff and punt returner, whether they use Josh Johnson some in there, he is very effective with running the ball as well. They have shown some of that. That’s another way that they could potentially run the ball and run the ball effectively.  In the passing game Kellen (Winslow) had an exception season last year and I’m sure he’ll be able to continue to pressure defenses the way that he does. I like their young group of wide receivers, Mike Williams from Syracuse, I thought had an outstanding preseason. Sammie Stroughter who can also return punts and kicks, he’s done some nice things for them. They’ve got Maurice Stovall who is a little different size than the other guys that I’ve talked about and can go up and get the ball.  They added Arrelious Benn, they’ve got a good group of players there. I think an emerging group of players in the passing game in addition to having Kellen (Winslow) and the things that he can do. With Josh Freeman one of the most different things in defending him is that he is similar to (Ben) Roethlisberger in the sense that he can extend plays.  He can either run with the ball, which he does effectively, but he can extend plays and throw on the run. There are quite a few shots last year and the limited exposure this preseason of him getting out of the pocket, extending the plays and making some things happen with his feet, which is always a challenge, similar to what Seneca (Wallace) can do and does.

“Their special teams finished second last year overall in terms of the unofficial rankings and it’s a good group.  They block punts, they block field goals, they’ve been very effective in kickoff return and punt return and kickoff coverage. There are not a lot of weaknesses in this group and I think this is going to be a series challenge right off the bat for our group which I think is a good group.  They waived Clifton Smith who led the NFL in kickoff return yardage last year and that’s how deep they are.  Spurlock I think does an excellent job. He’s got touchdowns both as a punt returner and kick returner and they can put Sammie Stroughter back there. He’s kind of the same thing, a threat to go the distance and they’ve worked some other guys there as well who have been effective. They have got a bit of depth at returner.”

(On what it says about Jake Delhomme and Scott Fujita in being named captains their first year on the team) -- “I think it’s great and I have had that happen different times. We brought Alan Faneca in, he was elected a captain in New York. They are really good people. They have inherent leadership qualities.  What I always look for in captains is they’re always pushing the group to do the right thing.  Sometimes you can do the convenient thing or the popular thing but you need your captains, you need your leadership to push everybody to do the right thing in a way that people will want to follow.  I think all of those guys have those attributes.  With Robaire Smith, he’s tough, he’s physical, he is really smart and contentious and even though he is a little bit more quiet than the rest of those guys that we talked about its apparent. His leadership is felt in other ways.  I like the group a lot.”

(On when he knew Delhomme would be a good fit with the Browns) -- “I did my background on Jake as well and everything that people said about him was positive.  You couldn’t find one person, you couldn’t find a disparaging word and you’re not looking for that. You’re just looking to get to the truth.  It was person after person, it didn’t matter who you talked to whether it was the head coach, the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator, players that he played with, people in the building it just was universal the type of guy that he is.  Here’s a guy who’s had a lot of success.  He’s come up the hard way, but he’s had a lot of success and it hasn’t changed him one bit.  That was always one of the things I always liked about Tom Brady, had a ton of success and he was the same guy every time I dealt with him he was the same guy and that’s hard to do.  You get a lot of praise and all of the things that come with success and to be that grounded, I think it’s a special trait.”

(On if Delhomme is throwing the ball better this year) -- “There are a lot of good examples of him throwing the ball well last year.  I know the one number is the interceptions but with that, Jeff (Schudel), it’s not always the quarterback sometimes it’s partly the protection, sometimes it’s the routes.  He obviously gets the bulk of that responsibility and you have to make good decisions there, but that stuff is accumulative effort, and there were a lot of plays on that tape that were really good throws, really good decisions.  The other thing is sometimes you have an off year and we’ve all had them but as you look at the course of his career he has been a pretty consistent winner.”

(On who will start on the right side of the offensive line) -- “Floyd (Womack) will be back today and should practice some today so we will see how that goes.  Both he and Shaun (Lauvao) will work there at the right guard spot and we will make a decision later in the week on who is going to start.  It’s the same thing with John (St. Clair) and Tony (Pashos) there’re both working with the one’s and the two’s.  My assumption is they all go to the game so they need to be prepared either way however they get the reps and I’ll make that decision later in the week as well.  That’s the thing with the depth chart, you have to put somebody first, put somebody second and you can’t slash it so that’s really where we are at.”

(On if David Veikune has a future in the league) -- “I do, I do think he does.  Unfortunately we couldn’t wait any longer for him to continue to develop although I think he made significant strides from where he was and he’s a hard worker, he’s a smart guy and he’s learned a new position.  You wish you had plenty of time to be able to keep letting these guys develop. We just couldn’t at this point and had to make a decision.  Titus Brown I think has developed and done a nice job since I have been here. You get a guy like Marcus Benard, he’s done some nice things. Those decisions are never easy and you want every decision to work out well and have the time to do that but we just couldn’t.”

(On if it was especially disappointing because Veikune was a high draft pick) -- “You want to be right on every pick, you really do. It’s such an exact science.  You would love to have the time to push through with every guy and say, ‘Okay this is where you think his ceiling is going to be,’ I don’t think David has reached that yet. I think he is working towards it.  Like I said I think he’s made strides but we couldn’t wait any longer at this point.”

(On why Veikune didn’t have enough time to develop) -- “It’s not always just about one person, it’s about the other people too and I think Titus has done a really nice job. I think that Marcus Benard has done a really nice job so you look at it not just in a vacuum of one person you look at as the group of people and you make decisions based on that.”

(On if Marcus Benard is capable of starting) -- “He’s a lot closer than he was and I feel totally comfortable putting him in the game and playing.  In terms of starting or not to me it’s whether you feel comfortable playing a guy in that role, and I do. His jump was really significant between last year and this year and where you saw some of his skill sets early was as a sub pass rusher in those packages but he’s continually worked at first and second down as well. If we were to play him, there’s no hesitation to on my part or on the defensive coaches’ parts.”

(On if he wants to keep Eric Barton in the rotation because of his familiarity with the defensive scheme) -- “Eric plays inside and a lot of those other guys play outside, so it’s the balance of the inside and outside.  Really, Eric, doesn’t go outside.”

(On if he could put Marcus Benard on the outside and Scott Fujita on the inside and have Barton off the field) -- “Another part of that is, is it better to have Eric inside and Fujita outside or Fujita inside and Marcus outside?  You look at those combinations and you build it in and then kind of go from there.  My expectation is that anybody that goes to the game on Sunday is going to have to play.  Considering the first game and all of the excitement that goes with that, the fact that there’s going to be multiple reps, it’s just totally different.  It’s going to be a little warmer down there than what we have been used to.  Everybody has to be ready to play and everybody has to be able to play well when they are called on.  I believe in that as much as much as you can during a game, get guys in and it makes you stronger as a unit in the fourth quarter if each guy has taken a part of the game.”

(On if he has a good idea who his 45 active players will be for Sunday) -- “Yes, I have a pretty good idea.  You always have to wait because you don’t know what is going to happen during the course of the week, but you start on Tuesday.  These are the guys we think are going to be inactive, you try to practice accordingly, but you can’t not practice those guys because that could change pretty quickly too.  You want to give the offense, defense and special teams an idea of this is who should be up, this is who probably is not going to be up and make sure you balance the reps accordingly.”

(On Tampa Bay potentially using the Wildcat and the Browns having components of the Wildcat themselves allows the Browns to not have to spend as much time preparing for it) -- “It’s not all the same plays.  There’s been very limited exposure to it from Tampa in the preseason.  They may have 20 plays out of it, they may have five, they may have two, you don’t know.  You also don’t know how they are going to build it, so it’s an awareness thing.  You have a concept of this how we are going to defend what are traditional Wildcat plays, then maybe something that we haven’t seen, we haven’t thought of.  You just have got to adjust to those.”

(On if Nick Sorensen will be able to play Sunday) -- “I don’t think we are going to know that until the end of the week.  You have got to go through all of the steps with that.  That’s what we will do during the course of this week, so I couldn’t say no right now and I couldn’t say yes right now.”

(On if he met with Kellen Winslow before the team traded him) -- “I did not meet with him before we traded him, no.”

(On what went into the decision to trade Winslow) -- “It was something that we talked about at the time.  It was an opportunity from a trade perspective that we talked about and it’s the decision that we made at that point.  Look, he’s a very good player and I really respect the things that he does as a player.”

(On if Winslow asked to be traded) -- “That wasn’t part of the equation that I remember.  It’s been a little while.”

(On if T.J. Ward will have some responsibility covering Winslow Sunday) -- “There will be combinations of how we are going to play it.  Some will be based on formation, some could be based on matchups.  I’m sure there will be times where he will be in that situation.  Yes, it’s tough, but it’s not going to get any easier for him as we go on.  The guys that he’s going to be asked to deal with throughout the course of the year, they’re all pretty good.”

(On if the need to improve on covering athletic tight ends, like Antonio Gates, was a priority this offseason) -- “Some of those plays last year, I thought we just played it really poorly.  There was one where they threw up the jump ball and he jumped over two of our guys.  We had him double-teamed, I don’t know what else we could have done at that point.  It’s hard.  I think Ben Watson will create some problems for people, I think Evan Moore will create some problems for people.  You like to have those guys because they do add some pressure inside the box and take some pressure outside of the perimeter.  We drafted Dustin Keller in New York kind of for that same reason.”

(On if having reliable tight ends and running backs takes pressure off of wide receivers in the passing game) -- “My hope and expectation is that we will throw it to all of them.  You can’t get into a situation where they can load the box, take out the inside part of the defense and us not be able to throw outside.  There are going to be times where that’s the case and those guys have to win.  Ideally though, what you have is a balanced enough offense where if they are doing that, you can win outside.  If they are not doing that, you can win inside.  You can create some pressure with your backs on the linebackers as well.  Offensively, we are always talking about horizontally stretching the field, vertically stretching the field and having multiple guys to pressure their weaknesses.  That’s what we have been working at doing in adding the players that we have added”

(On if Shaun Rogers made it through practice Monday all right) -- “Yes, for the part that is really sort of the intro to get back on the field work.  For the part that we asked him to do, there were no issues.  He’ll do some more here today, some more the next day.  It’s a progression that he’s following through the week.”

(On Steve Vallos and Derrick Roberson) -- “With Vallos, he was actually a guy that I spent time with prior to the draft.  I remember he’s a very bright kid.  I liked the meeting, I liked him coming out of college and then Seattle ended up getting him.  When he became free, obviously Mike (Holmgren) had more experience with him than I did from a coaching perspective, but the time that I had spent with him, that exposure and the college tape, he was a guy that I liked as well.  Then with Roberson, he is a guy that Brad (Seely) and I had talked about when the cuts had come out because he is a very good special teams player.  In college, he had always been a conscientious student of the game, you know, the typical buzz words that go with those types of guys.  He seems to have intensity when he plays and even in meeting with him and talking with him, you feel that as well.  That’s what we were looking for from him.”

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