Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, great to have everybody here. I appreciate you being here on 9/11. It's the 19th anniversary of 9/11. I remember that because my daughter is 19 – Alison – and she was born one month and one day before 9/11. So, we talk about that. It's interesting, this 2020 Class, many of them were born on 9/11 and then graduated in 2020. So, they're a unique group in that sense. They've shown some resiliency, right? And as has our country. So, [I'm] very proud of the folks that stepped up around the 9/11 time. Those of us who are our age, we remember it well, and we're proud of the first responders and all the people in the building and all the acts of heroism that took place around 9/11. With that, going forward, what questions do you have?"
RB Justice Hill and WR Chris Moore have been on the injury report most of the week. If they can't go Sunday, does that set you back on special teams? Does that open a door for a younger guy kind of to step up? (Todd Karpovich) "Chris [Moore] is a very experienced special teams player, but he hasn't been with us for a couple weeks. We knew we were going to have to adapt to him not being there this week, and we'll see for next week. But it does open the door for some younger guys. [It's] the same thing with Justice [Hill], if he can't make it … Justice is a young guy, too, so he's kind of in the same category as those guys. We like those guys; young, fast players out there. They're learning how to play. They've got to step it up. They've got to play at that level. We're playing the Browns coached by [special teams coordinator] Coach [Mike] Priefer, who is a very experienced special teams coach. His dad was one of the best to ever do it. He knows what he's doing [and] he has a bunch of guys who play hard. In this division, there are four really good special teams units [and] four really good coaches. These guys all do a great job. You play seven, really, knock-down, drag-out special teams games in this division, and the Browns are one of those games year-in and year-out."
I don't know if you caught any of the game last night, but Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was wearing this face shield. Seeing how well it worked for him, any thoughts of going with a face shield on Sunday? (Jamison Hensley) "I had a thought about it, and then I saw it. (laughter) Actually, it got put in my office and I thought it might be good, because what happens is with this … I wear glasses to read the play cards and the glasses fog up, especially when it's humid. It's been really humid here, right? It's been humid [with] all the rain and everything. My glasses were fogging up today at practice, so I thought maybe the face shield would help. But I dismiss that after last night. (laughter) The face shield [has] a fogging problem, but I looked in the mirror and I was like, 'Eh. I don't think so.' My wife mentioned to me last night … Andy [Reid] is one of my best friends, but she did mention to me last night that in the Kansas City area, there are going to be a lot of Halloween outfits with face shields and mustaches and foggy face shields. Wow. That was tough."
We also saw last night, before the game, that each team sort of chose to do its own stuff with the social justice messaging. Have you talked with your guys yet about what they might be planning to do before Sunday's game? Can you kind of tell us where things stand with that? (Childs Walker) "Yes, we have talked about it. We didn't have to spend a lot of time on it, we had a lot of agreements. Two weeks ago, we spent a whole day-plus on it, and since then, our guys have followed up. We have a couple committees that have followed up on specific actions. And actually, I don't think [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] would mind me saying, [that] he came in yesterday and talked to the leadership committee about his plans and what he's planning on doing and where he stood. It was really a powerful, strong thing in how strongly he feels in support of the players and what he's planning. I can't divulge all the plans, but I want you to know it's not just talk, it's not just symbolism, which is good, but it's action on a large scale. Man, our guys are fired up about that. Our position is really the same as it has always been. It hasn't changed from the beginning. And our position and the way we look at it is, we've always been this way, we really respect one another. We treat one another with respect. We respect one another's opinions. We support one another, that's what a team does. We encourage our players to be who they are. We want them to be who they are, the best selves of who they are, and we think that when you're you, that makes us, us. Be you, and that'll be us. That's how we look at it. So, our guys are encouraged to do what's on their conscious and in their heart, not to please anybody outside, not to be concerned with what anybody else's opinion is, but to do what expresses how you feel. And it's going to be different for different guys. It's going to be different for me than it is for other guys out there. I'm not going to impose upon anybody how they want to express their feelings on anything. So, that's the way we'll do it. We'll be out there, and we'll be standing or kneeling or clasping or whatever guys choose to do. But we'll be respecting one another, each other's opinions, and we'll be supporting each other in that. I hope if there's any kind of symbolism, if there's any kind of message there, it's not intended to be, so much, as it is just an unspoken message about what a team is all about; that we believe in one another, we support one another, we respect one another and that we're together. I hope our country can do it just like a football team does, in that sense."
Coach, are you ready for some football? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) (laughing) "Yes! Yes, thank you. I like that. You've got a future, they should put you on Monday Night Football, for sure. That's awesome. It was fun last night watching football, Jamison [Hensley] you mentioned it, too. I enjoyed it. I was excited to watch it. The only problem is I get up really early, so I got sleepy and I had to go to sleep after a while. (laughter) It was fun to see them playing some football."
Given the circumstances that much has been made this offseason, is there more uncertainty going into this Week One than a typical Week One? Or no, do you feel like the ramp-up and all that stuff has given you a good idea about how this team will respond early in all that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think the ramp-up helped us with dealing with the aspect of injuries and preparing the guys physically. There's definitely more uncertainty. It's self-evident, I think, that there's more uncertainty from a football standpoint. [We're] just going to have to go out there and play. I want to get out there and play and see where we're at. That's going to be an unknown until we start playing. Until we start kicking and throwing and punting and passing and tackling, we're not going to know for sure. And once we do, we'll know, and we'll move from there."
I hate to keep bombarding you with rules questions, but if you do decide to do the two practice squad call-ups to go to 55, is that a Saturday by 4 p.m. thing? Or do you have to do that Sunday [at] a certain time before the game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I know I'm supposed to know every single aspect of every rule, but they've been changing so much. I do rely on [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and [director of player personnel] George Kokinis and [senior player personnel executive] Vince Newsome and those guys on that. So, I really don't know the answer to that. I know if we plan on bringing guys up, it'll be done on time. (laughter) I'm very confident in that, but I don't know the exact time on that. Now that you mention it, I'm going to go ahead and ask. Thanks."
S Chuck Clark
What do you think is going to be your biggest challenge facing the Browns? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "For me, just getting out there, playing on the field with my guys – a few new parts, new pieces on the field. But [it's about] making sure we communicate efficiently, and we're out there running smooth, and everybody is on the same page."
We spoke to you about two weeks ago about S DeShon Elliott. Now that you've been practicing alongside him as a starter for the last couple weeks, what have you seen, in terms of his progress? And how ready do you think he is for Sunday's game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "He's ready. He's been ready for this moment – this situation. But honestly, he just shows that he has a grasp of the defense; he knows the defense. And he's out there, ready to go out there and make plays this weekend."
When we just talked to John Harbaugh, he said, he's going to kind of leave it up to you guys to do whatever you want to do, in terms of sending a social justice message before the game on Sunday. Have you guys talked about it as a group – doing sort of a unified thing? Or do you think it's going to be sort of each guy doing his own thing? What do you expect before the game on Sunday in that regard? (Childs Walker) "Here with our organization, we've had the talks with upstairs and down – players in the locker room as well. Personally, and as a team, we're just choosing to let everyone do what they choose to do. We all come from different backgrounds, and a lot of us have different experiences, and some of us, we can't relate to what others have been through. So, we're letting every guy do what they choose to do on their own, and we all respect that and understand that. Just as a family, we respect what everyone does. So, we're allowing guys to do what they choose to do, and we're not making anyone do anything they don't want to do."
John Harbaugh mentioned that there was a meeting with the owner, Steve Bisciotti. How did that go for you guys, and in your respect, what transpired? (Jerry Coleman) "It was good for us just to hear … We had the previous situation with guys who were here. Guys didn't know what was going to come with it when we played Jacksonville over in London – if they would get cut whether they chose to take knee. So, just being able to hear the ownership of this team and the head of this team back and support us, to know that they are on the same page with us, and they understand the things that are going on in this country and that a lot of people are tired of … And players on this team that we deal with, they're tired of those things. So, they understand where we're coming from, and they're 100% supporting us and backing us."
When you look at the Browns' wide receivers, namely Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, what kind of challenges do they present for your secondary? And what do you remember from the performance last year when you guys went up against them? (Todd Karpovich) "Both of them, they're two good, explosive, electric receivers. They can be game-wreckers at any moment."
I'm just wondering – amongst your teammates or for yourself – if you guys have thought about the significance of this for the people and for the fans who've been enduring this pandemic and have been looking forward to football? You'll have an opportunity to bring them some entertainment on Sunday. Any thoughts about that? (Mark Viviano) "Definitely. Just watching the game last night, it kind of brings us back to norm a little – a sense of normalcy here. We're dealing with COVID and all the other things outside of that. And then, just to have something – America's pastime – and to be able to watch a game … Just to know that we can go out there, and we can play and kind of ease the tension out there a little bit."
Will your role be changing this season – or at least for the first game – in terms of calling the defenses and wearing the dot? (Kevin Richardson) "I'm just going to go out there and do what the coaches tell and ask of me to do. Whoever has the mic in their helmet come Sunday, they got it."
How excited are you to see S DeShon Elliott out there in his first start and see what he's going to bring? (Ryan Mink) "I'm hyped up for him. Once we get through warmups – keep him calm – and once we're out there on the field together and just get to ball out and make plays … I'm so hyped for him, to see him get out there and get on the field. I couldn't put words to it. He's had two seasons where he's had injuries that have kind of ended those seasons. So, just finally getting to see him approach the season as a starter and be healthy, I can't wait for him to get out there."
Do you think you have an advantage going against a first-year coach? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "Honestly, we've just been preparing hard all camp. It doesn't matter who's out there. We know who we are. We know the work that we put in towards it. So, it doesn't matter. We're just going to have to go in and ball-out and go win the game at the end of the day."