Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 24

On if Browns WR Joshua Cribbs' ability to break tackles is what sets him apart:"I think what sets him apart is he's a football player. You watch him play, and he gets free in so many different ways. He can run past guys, he can put his foot in the ground and make people miss, and then he can run over people. He gets to the open field, he can stiff-arm. He's got a lot of skills, and that's why he is what he is. I think everybody else has figured that out, so now they're playing him on offense."

On how to minimize Cribbs' opportunities in the return game:"There's not much you can do on kickoff coverage. You're going to kick the ball, and he's probably going to catch it. So, you have to do a great job of containing him. He's going to attack the whole field, and we've made a big point in our coverage all week long of trying to make sure he doesn't have any open windows."

On if the coverage is where he wants it to be:"We have a ways to go, real frankly. We gave up a big return last week, unfortunately. It was simply a mistake on our part. You give that kind of a player an opportunity, and a good return turns into one that's across the 50-yard line, and that's what happened. It's going to be an ongoing process. We're going to work hard on it every week, because every week in this league you're going to face good players."

On Cribbs' being on the bubble when he entered the league, and if Rosburg lobbied for him to be on the roster:"As it is with a lot of players, success has many fathers. I was there when Josh was there as an undrafted free agent. I think that anybody who was around him at the time was not a whole lot different than [me]. You could see there was a football player there. To his own credit, he's done a great deal to get to where he is today."

On if there is an opportunity for another player to get on the field and contribute in special teams with LB Prescott Burgess' absence:"The roster, when you're going into the practice week, you're trying to prepare everybody to play on Sunday. Just like last week when Prescott was here, there's all kinds of different scenarios that could play out, so you're trying to get as many guys ready to fill those rolls when you hit the field on Sunday. If that position is open, then somebody else is going to have the opportunity to compete for that. That's what we've been doing in practice."

On if LB/DE Paul Kruger is improving on special teams:"He had a good practice yesterday. I thought last week was the best week that he had, yes."

On if Kruger is a guy who still needs development in that area, because he never played special teams at Utah:"That's not untrue for players even at linebacker and defensive back. A lot of these guys, if they're college… They were the stars and they didn't have to play special teams, especially guys that started as freshmen and sophomores in college. Others that worked their way up, perhaps, played when they were younger. It's just a part of a development of a young player. I don't think Paul is any different than a lot of the other players his age."

On how TE Tony Curtis is on special teams:"We just got him going yesterday. We introduced him to his teammates, and we put him in some spots. We got him as many reps as we possibly could. He's played special teams before in this league, so that's a valuable asset for him. We're going to work him in as the roster shakes."

On the challenges that Cleveland presents: "They have a nose guard named [Shaun] Rogers that's pretty good. The scores… We don't really know what's happening in those games. You look at the scores and then you go look at the tape. I know their defense, for three quarters, has played extremely well. That's nothing we're creating. That's real. They've given up a couple big runs late in the games against Minnesota and against Denver. This is as stout a front seven as we've played. They've got some guys they brought in from New York that really feel like they know the system. So, they'll be playing in a comfort zone. This is the most physical football team we've played yet – looking at it from our perspective offensively. This is a challenge fora us in a lot of ways."

On how you try to get WR Demetrius Williams involved when you're doing so well offensively: "You try to get everybody involved. That's the bottom line. You start with your top receiver, then your second receiver, and then your third. You kind of just work your way down. The bottom line is, it's a long season and we're going to need every guy. We expect every guy to be ready. Demetrius has had a great week of practice so far – time will tell. You never know how these games are going to play out. You go in getting everybody ready and I'm sure, when he's involved, it will be done at the right time."

On if he is seeing things that need to be corrected: "Absolutely. We've gone from a preseason game where we had 47 corrections, to last week where we had seven corrections. But that's week-to-week. The matchups are different every week. This is the challenge we have this week. We can compare scoring zone one week to the next. It's different every week. Third down is different every week. This defense… Again, all you've got to do is take out the fourth quarter, and you'll see on Sunday. You'll see the challenge we have against this defense."

On his expectations for TE L.J. Smith: "Just get healthy, that's the thing. He's getting healthier. He's had a good week of practice, so we'll see what all that means. The important thing from my perspective is he's doing everything he can to get ready to play. That's the important thing. Then when he plays, he plays. You just let it play out, whether it be Demetrius [Williams] or whether it be L.J. [Smith]. We have our challenge to keep everybody that's playing, playing at a high level. We're going to need those guys hopefully sooner than later."

On what DL Shaun Rogers and other Browns physical defensive linemen represent: "Big, strong, physical guys that love to defend the run and can transition to pass better than you think. There are some guys over the years you go against that are strictly run stoppers. The guys that are special are the guys that can stop the run and transition to pass. As you guys saw in that preseason game – when one of these guys hits your quarterback and lands on top of him, usually something is ajar. We have to do everything we can to keep them away from Joe [Flacco]."

On WR Derrick Mason being three catches away from 800 for his career, and what that says about him: "As coaches, very seldom do you get an opportunity to be around guys like that. As players, some of these players will never be in the locker room, no matter how long they play, with a guy that has caught 800 or more receptions. In my view, Derrick Mason, the number of catches is the least important thing he probably does. It's the clutch catches that he makes, the leadership that he brings, the way he practices, and the habits that he has. He has developed probably as good of habits as any player that I've been around, in terms of his weekly preparation. When you do that, and all of a sudden look up, there's 800 catches."

On if you have seen WR Derrick Masons' practice habits rub off on any other players: "You hope. There's always guys, for whatever reason, that never see it. But around here, guys see it. You can't help but… OK, there's Ray Lewis. There goes Ed Reed. There goes Derrick Mason. There goes Matt Birk. You walk down the hall, if that doesn't rub off on you, then what would? It rubs off on me as a coach, and it does our coaching staff. Hopefully we're rubbing off on them a little bit too. That's what makes this place special, and Derrick Mason is a big part of that."

On the status of T Jared Gaither for Sunday: "He'll be ready to play. I wouldn't think anything else. This illness is going around. Every team's dealing with it. It's just an opportunity for us to deal with a difficult situation. He'll handle it fine. This guy, he's preparing, even though he's come up with this flu bug or whatever it is. He'll pass it and be ready to play."

On if TE Tony Curtis has learned enough to play this Sunday:"We'll see. It's early in the week. I think everybody knows if you're on our offensive roster, we expect you to be ready to play. Obviously, once you're active, for the most part you will play. Those are all things that play out all the way up to game time. As you guys know, this thing is evolving all the way up, just like last week as people were put down for San Diego. You just take it all the way, right up until kick off."

On if QB Joe Flacco is significantly better than last year:"That's what we're supposed to do. I'm supposed to be better. Joe is supposed to be better. Todd [Heap], Willis [McGahee], collectively, we've got to keep getting better. We're in relentless pursuit of getting better. That isn't going to change, and our guys are buying into that. We're going to need to play better than we did in San Diego to do what we want to do this weekend."

On Flacco being one of the first guys at the facility in the morning and the last one to leave:"I've never seen a quarterback in this system be any different. That's a credit to Joe, but that's a credit to the men in this system. Troy Smith isn't far behind. You know what, Troy may already be in here, he just hasn't told anybody. John Beck is lurking. That's what we believe, and we think that's critical. Our guys have bought in big time, but I think they've had those habits. Joe has been in the habit of being that guy. We're not asking Joe to do anything he hasn't done. Ozzie [Newsome] obviously saw that in him coming out of college."* *

On if the pass rush was satisfactory in last week's game:"I don't know if I ever feel it's satisfactory unless you're getting a sack on every four-man rush. There were times last week where we got very good pressure. We hit the quarterback a number of times. When you look back at the tape, [Philip Rivers] made some very, very good throws after getting hit pretty good with a four-man rush. Then other times, I think we could have kept going and got our hands in his face a little more."

On the height advantage the Chargers' receivers had:"When they trotted on the field and you looked out there at their wide receivers, that's the first thing I thought. I thought, 'This is a great looking group of wide receivers.' Not just one guy, but it seemed like there were three or four of them that looked like they should be playing in the NBA somewhere as point guards or something. I think a lot of times in that ball game our secondary did a much better job than what people realize. What happens the way we play defense, when you're playing man coverage and if you don't get to the quarterback, that's going to end up being a longer route. And when you have a smaller DB covering them, now it's going to end up being a little bit bigger gain than what you wanted to have. What we can't have, and what we've got to stop, is when the guy does catch it, him turning it into more yards. If you ask me what would be the one thing that I'm not happy with that we've got to correct, and that's the number of big plays. You're going to get completions. They're going to get 25-yard completions. They're going to get 20-yard completions at times. That's going to happen in the NFL. But, what's got to happen is we've got to get them down right there, and it's got to stop with that. You can't have the long one over the top of your head, the contested ball that he gets and we don't get. If they have that much time to throw that long of a play, then we aren't doing what we're supposed to be doing up front."

On how satisfying it was to end the game on a positive defensive note:"I think the thing that was the most satisfying, and the thing that you're the proudest of, is anytime you play the red zone defense like our kids played… And more importantly, I don't know if I've ever been around a team that had four what ended up being goal-line stands. Anytime they get the ball inside the 10-yard line… And one thing that is negative, that shouldn't happen that many times… The positive that I look at right there is what that whole room and that defense stands for is, 'Give me a place to stand. As long as I can still stand somewhere and that ball's not in the end zone, they aren't in there.' For us to do that four times in one ball game, you can see that ended up being the change in the game. That shows the character of these guys. That shows the toughness, and it shows guys' ability to make plays. Now, like I said, on the other end of that, we've got to stop being down there so much. It's our job to not let them get big plays to be down there. The other thing that really stood out is the defense made two great plays to get the ball for the offense in crucial times that we had to. Our offense is playing great, and so for us to be able to give them another opportunity with the ball really helped us."

On if opponents are getting too many yards after the catch or if it's more over the top:"It's both. It's happened with both of them. One, if they have time to throw that long one where they're catching it over the top of us, that's the whole defense. That's the guys pressuring, that's the coach calling the pressures. That's every part of it. It's not players, it's coaches, it's the whole group together. That's what we looked at all week this week. We've got to make sure we've got pressures called that will get to that quarterback. Then, at the same time, when the ball is thrown, we've got to be able to contest it and get him down when he catches it."

On if he expects CB Fabian Washington to be able to play on Sunday, and if CB Frank Walker would also be ready to step in:"Frank's always ready. In fact, if you watch [the Chargers] game, Frank made a great play in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. I think the one thing that happens, just like our defensive line, when a guy's proved that he can play, maybe you have to get him in the game more. Sometimes you don't do that with secondary guys as much as you do with defensive linemen, but Frank has played a lot of football here in some crucial situations. Now, Frank is always there. I do believe Fabian will be up, yeah. Oh definitely."

On if OLB Jarret Johnson will be ready to play on Sunday:"Yes. I don't want to look forward to having to walk on that field without Jarret Johnson, so I'm saying that he's there."

On what concerns him about Cleveland's offense that could give Baltimore trouble:"It's all our basic things that we have to get done, that we go into every game. One, you have to make sure that the team doesn't run the football. It all starts there. If a team becomes one dimensional, now you can work on correcting or making sure that other dimension is solid. But if you allow them – and I kept thinking about it – if we would have let that team last week run the football on us with what they were doing throwing it at times, that would have been a long afternoon. But the fact [is] that our guys could stop the run. So, we have to do that for sure. And the next thing we need to be able to do is we need to be able to get some pressure with a four-man front. I don't think that every time on third down or a long-yardage situation that you have to send the house. Because again, you're putting that secondary in a real one-on-one situation, and you better get there. So, I think it's that you might have to change it up a hair and see what happens that way."

On how guys like Brendon Ayanbadejo and Jameel McClain have contributed to the linebacker corps: "A great example, again, is Brendon Ayanbadejo. He made, there's a couple of plays in that game that… He's out there because of his speed and because of his ability to recover. He made two great tackles there that I don't know if other guys on our team would have gotten to that ball. So, it just shows that what we're asking him to do. He is filling in perfectly to do that. He just gets better every week, too. It's now becoming pretty comfortable for him. Jameel McClain stepped in and made a great play right away, the second he was in there. Jameel McClain can play, and I think you're going to see him as the season goes on, when you need guys in there like that, he's just going to get better and better."

On his analysis of LB Tavares Gooden thus far: "I think he has improved every game. I think it's that what he missed last year not being on the field, you can't just get off of film and you can't get it off of OTA's. When the fire is flying in there and it is going fast, that's when you learn. The mistakes that he has made early, he isn't making a second time. And his ability to get to the ball the second time compared to the first time is better. I think he's just stepping it up every game."

On whether he has to ask more from other guys with the loss of LB Prescott Burgess' skill set: "No, I think what happens is, anybody you have on your team that is a linebacker is expected to do that. You know, Ozzie [Newsome] and John [Harbaugh] would never put our defense in a situation where we would be depleted to the point where, 'Boy, we're in trouble right now.' No, that didn't happen. We're fine there."

On whether any of his defenses have ever let up 436 yards: "I've got a real bad memory when it comes to that. So, I don't know. I try not to think of that. I know I've never been part of a defense that had four goal line stands. I tend to look at the positive and correct the negative."

On how high of a level DT Haloti Ngata is playing right now: "Haloti is getting better and better every week. His bar is so high by us, and hopefully by him. So, I would think he would say, 'As I'm getting better, I'm getting better, [but] I'm not there yet.'"

On whether he can get into the young head of Browns QB Brady Quinn: "Well, I think you can get in the head of any quarterback if you hit him enough times. I think that's the key. You know, once you're an NFL quarterback and you've played all the college football that you've played and you've played all of the time that you've played, you're really not a young guy anymore. I think once you're out there, you've seen quite a bit already. You want to do the same thing you do to all quarterbacks, is you want to hit him enough times to know that if he holds the ball, he's going to get hit."

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