Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. I feel like I just saw you guys. It's good to see you again. We just finished practice – a walk-through-style practice. It's a routine that we developed over the years for the Thursday night games. A lot of work was done last week. A lot of work was done last night and this morning. Our guys did a good job of focusing on Cleveland. We went right to Cleveland. We didn't spend any time on Pittsburgh, as far as reviewing it. We're trying to get ready for Thursday night."
What is the most challenging part of the short week? Is it the game-planning, or is it the physical part for guys trying to manage injuries? (Childs Walker)"Those are definitely the two challenges. The game-planning is certainly a challenge, but you just do it. Both teams are in the same boat that way. You try to make good decisions based on the fact that the learning curve is going to be a little bit shorter. The same thing probably goes for the physical part of it. The recovery curve is shorter, so guys have to get to it and get right to the recovery. Then you adjust what you do. We don't practice the same way as we would if we were playing on Sunday."
Are you excited to get WR/RS Michael Campanaro back in the mix? (Garrett Downing)"It's good to see Michael back. He was out here on the practice squad. His legs were fresh, and he was bopping around. I really appreciate the fact that he's here and not somewhere else. He would have had a chance a couple of weeks earlier to go with another team. He wanted to wait until he was available; the rules made him available to come back here. We'll put him to work and see where he's at. There's a chance he can contribute for us."
How helpful is it to play a team you are pretty familiar with in the short week? (Todd Karpovich)"It probably is helpful. Both teams are familiar with each other in the sense that we game-planned already. We played each other already. We play each other a lot. We know their personnel. You're not starting from ground zero as much as you are with a team that you don't normally play. That's a big part of it on a short week."
Browns head coach Hue Jackson said QB Cody Kessler will start. You haven't played against him, but have obviously watched some film. What have you seen from him? (Cliff Brown)"I was just impressed with the way he throws. He really throws a good ball. He makes all of the throws. He throws the ball on the sideline deep. He throws the ball down the field. He also moves around the pocket and shows really good pocket awareness. He moves around to throw and keeps his eyes downfield, which is a very veteran experience kind of a thing for a young guy. [He is] a good athlete, and it looks like he has good command of Hue's [Jackson] offense. We're getting ready for him. We also know that they have some other guys that could play in the back of our mind. They spread you out with some read-option stuff with both [Kevin] Hogan and Terrelle Pryor. We have to be ready for that stuff. Obviously, Josh McCown is always looming. Our focus will be on Cody Kessler, and our hands will be full, because he's looked good when he's played."
When you drafted him, team officials talked about CB Tavon Young being around the ball a lot. Has anything about him surprised you with how quickly he has picked things up and been able to contribute? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I don't know if 'surprised' would be the word I would use, but he has not disappointed us in any way, that's for sure. The ball skills have been what we thought, and the foot quickness. The thing that he did in college is he was very competitive. He covered everybody. He covered the best receivers in the country. Temple, they played a lot of great teams. And he won most of those battles, so you appreciated that. I think the ball skills, foot quickness and flat speed was all a part of that. The thing I like about him most of all is the fact that he learns quickly. [He is a] no-nonsense guy, listens, he's smart, and he doesn't make the same mistake twice."
He said after the Giants game with the WR Odell Beckham long touchdown that that was on him to play better. What does it show you when a rookie shows that kind of accountability? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Maturity – high expectations for himself. That's what we've seen from him from the first day he got here."
Is it a different type of challenge playing a team that's winless, knowing how badly they want that first win and how badly you don't want to be the team to give that up? (David Ginsburg)"It's something. It's not what we dwell on. On paper, that's how they're evaluated, but the tape tells a completely different story, and we watch the tape. We understand that this is a quality football team that we're dealing with. Games are lost for different kinds of reasons. Usually, it's a play here and a play there, and some of those plays haven't gone their way. It can go that way. We've been in the same situation. We lost four in a row. It just was like that. That can happen. If you watch the tape, they are making a lot of really good plays. This is a very formidable challenge. It was the first time we played them this year. It was both games last year. It was both games the year before that. It always is that way, so our guys understand the rivalry that we have with Cleveland. We understand how tough a game it's going to be. We don't put any stock in that [record]. I think the fact that they haven't won yet does add to the challenge for us, because they're going to be coming in here very determined to win a football game. We have to be more determined to make sure that we win a football game. We have our own issues. That's not our issue. Their issues aren't our issues. Our issue right now is to build on where we're at. That's what we have to focus on, is us."
IFrom an offensive standpoint, a lot of attention has been on that group. Have you seen progress in certain areas? Is it still a matter of things like penalties holding you back? (Jeff Zrebiec)"You do. When you're involved in it, when you're in the middle of it, you see the progress in every little area. We're making progress in many areas. The things that were holding us back in this game were across the board a little bit in every area. We just have to get better. It comes down to executing fundamental techniques and plays and assignments in a more efficient way. Then you don't have penalties. If you step the right way – if you take the right angles – you're not in a position where you have to hold somebody. Start with that. If we run routes better, if we protect better, if we read things out better – all of the different things that each guy has to do a little bit better – it goes a long way across the board and gets you over the hump. We make two plays in that game – we have a route up the right sideline and a route up the left sideline – if we make those two plays, I think you see a dramatically different output and therefore outcome. It's that close, but it's that far until you do it consistently. We're doing it a lot of times, but we're not doing it consistently. That's what we have to find a way to do. I'm absolutely certain that we will do it."
BROWNS CONFERENCE CALLS: WEEK 10
Head Coach Hue Jackson
I saw that you said earlier that you feel like this short week is actually coming at a good time for you guys, given your performance. Can you explain your reasoning behind that?"Well, because you get a chance to go play again. You get a chance to get that taste out of your mouth. Obviously, that game was here at home in front of our fans and people that we like to go out and perform well for. We were not able to do that [for them]. We get a chance to go on the road and go play another game against a very good opponent."
Generally speaking, what are the greatest challenges of getting ready in four days?"I just think the guys' body clock. It is just so different. It is trying to cram all the information that you normally put into a week's time in a shorter window and trying to make sure you cover all the different bases and all the different situations that happen in football in a much shorter window."
Do you like Thursday Night Football overall as a thing for the league?"I would like to play a regularly-scheduled game, but everybody has this challenge. We accept it, and we are looking forward to it."
Have you noticed any significant changes with the way the Ravens are running their offense under Marty Mornhinweg than how they were doing it under Marc Trestman?"I think Marty's personality is starting to permeate through their offense. They are doing things Marty's way. I think any coordinator would do that. They are throwing the ball down the field more, and they are running more screens. They are doing things that I think Marty likes to do. But I think the biggest thing about that I have seen with the Baltimore Ravens football team is that they are back to playing defense the way Baltimore plays defense. They have done a great job that way."
In the first meeting, you guys had a 20-point league and lost it. How much are you planning on using that as motivation for Thursday's game?"I don't know that it is motivation. We have had leads on several teams and have not been able to finish. We understand that there is a team here that is – I'm talking about our team – that comes prepared and comes to play. We know how to start games; we have not been able to finish them yet. Our motivation is we need a win. We are a 0-9 football team, and we want to get on the other side of the ledger."
You are very optimistic and you have a lot of young players, but how tough has this start been on you personally?"It is tough. But at the same time, it is the job I signed up for. I understand where we are and what we are trying to accomplish and do. But at the same time, nobody likes losing as much as we have. We are going to fight through it and get ourselves ready to come and play a big game on Thursday night."
You mention the Ravens' defense standing out. When you look at the tape and when you study them, is a guy like rookie CB Tavon Young, a guy that comes across on tape? Have you seen stuff in his development?"Absolutely. He is playing extremely well within the scheme of their defense. He is making plays. So is [Timmy] Jernigan. So are all of those guys. '57' [C.J. Mosley] might be one of the best players in football. They have done a nice job. They have gotten guys back, they are getting healthier, and they are starting to play Baltimore Ravens football."
Why do you say ILB C.J. Mosley might be one of the best players in football?"Why do I say that? Because he makes so many standout plays. He is always around the ball. He is making plays on backs, he is making plays on receivers, he is getting his hands on balls, and he is chasing balls down. He is just a tremendous football player."
Just to confirm, are you still staying with QB Cody Kessler?"Yes."
Can you elaborate why you are staying with QB Cody Kessler?"He is a young player, and I want to have an opportunity to watch him [against] the toughest competition so we can do a better job of evaluating him for our future."
With a quick turnaround, was that a factor in any way in terms of whether to go with him or go with a veteran like QB Josh McCown?"No. Not at all."
T Joe Thomas
On what he finds most challenging about preparing for short weeks:"Obviously, it is the condensed amount of time that you have to prep. Usually you have six days a week, and you can watch film and kind of refine your plan for the week. But when everything is so squished together, you have to really work overtime and put in some long hours to get ready on such a short notice."
On if he likes Thursday night football:"I do. I think it is good, because it is good for the league to have a game on Thursday night, first of all. I think second of all, it gives the players a little bit of a break on the back end. Normally if you play on Sunday, obviously, you do not get the weekend off. But when you play a Thursday game, you usually get Friday, Saturday, Sunday off. It is almost like a little bit of a mini-bye [week], a little bit off a mini-break in the middle of the season. It is kind of nice."
On if playing an opponent that they are familiar with helps make a short week easier to deal with:"It does [help]. This will be the second time we play the Ravens, so obviously, the game plan will be somewhat similar, and having some familiarity with them will definitely help. I think it would be tough if you were playing a team that was out of conference or you only play once every four years, because the preparation will be from scratch, and that is a lot to do in one week."
On how much he has enjoyed matching up with Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs and what his thoughts are on Suggs:"He is obviously one of the all-time great outside linebackers in our game. Him and I have had a lot of great battles. They have a great defense for even way longer than I have been in the NFL. Obviously, Suggs has been a big part of that tradition. It is always a great challenge getting ready to play against him, and it is always good fun seeing him out there. The toughness that he shows week-in and week-out out there playing with a torn biceps is pretty amazing."
On if there is a lingering bad taste in the Browns' mouth from the last matchup where the Ravens came back from a 20-point deficit:"Obviously, the first game didn't end the way we hoped, and especially with the fast start that we had. You feel like you let one slip away when you are up by three scores in a game like that. We are going to go into this game, and we are trying to get our first win, so we will try to do that any way we can."
On how difficult it is to remain optimistic when the team hasn't won one game:"It gets tougher every week that you don't get a win, because obviously, as those loss totals stack up, it is more difficult to be positive. I think in the end we understand what our job is. Our job is to try to go out on Sunday and win. The best way to do that is to be positive during the week and have an optimistic attitude and work during the week as hard as we can to possibly get a win on Sunday."
On how he has personally handled some of the losing seasons:"It gets tougher as you get older, there is no doubt about it. Every week that you have a loss, it becomes more difficult. Every season as you get older becomes more difficult. It is definitely a struggle, but in the end, you always look back and see that you have a job to do. Your job is to play as well as you can to help your team win to the best of your ability. Nobody really cares about your wins and losses, because you always have a job to do."
On the Ravens starting rookie T Ronnie Stanley and what it is like to be starting as a high draft pick at tackle:"It is tough, especially when you are playing left tackle, because the majority of the time you are blocking your man one-on-one and just about every team you face is going to have a really good defensive end or outside linebacker that you are going to have to block. The challenge is being consistently good. In college, there is not as much film study. Teams don't try to exploit your weaknesses as much, but in the NFL this is everybody's job; this is their full-time job. They are going to look at your weaknesses, and anything that you don't do really well, they are going to try to exploit that. I think that is the toughest adjustment that to make from college to the pros. You have to improve on any of your weaknesses, otherwise people are going to take advantage of them."
On if he has an opinion on why there is a decline in NFL TV ratings:"I think it is probably a number of things. I think, obviously, the election being first and foremost in everybody's mind right now, at this time of year, that is probably taking away from the NFL viewership. I also think some of the matchups in primetime were not as appealing as they have been in years past. Obviously, I think Peyton Manning is not in the league anymore, and he was a big draw week-in and week-out because he was so popular and people loved watching him play. I also do think that the NFL has cracked on individuality and fun and entertainment [and that] has been the wrong approach. I think that has probably affected it in some regards. I think they would be wise to remember that the NFL is about entertaining first and foremost, and they do not want to do things that take fun and excitement out of the game, and that includes allowing players to be individuals and allow them to show some of their own personality, because that is why people tune in. It is easy if you live in Baltimore, Pittsburgh or Cleveland to turn on the game and watch your home team, because you have been a fan. But what is going to draw you to watch an NFC game with two teams that really don't affect your own home team? You want to see Antonio Brown or you want to see some other star in the NFL play, and you want to enjoy his personality. I think taking that away is not a smart move."
On if he watches NFL when he has Sunday off:"I do. I am a big NFL fan. I love football. I love watching the games on Sunday, so I will definitely be tuning in."