Wednesday Practice Transcript - 12/21


Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

Can you talk about the decision to bring in Shayne Graham, what he brings to the table? And obviously, you are keeping Billy [Cundiff] active, just kind of how you feel like things will play out there… (Dan Kolko) "The positive thing about bringing Shayne [Graham] is that we know him and he knows us. He is, obviously, an NFL-caliber kicker. We knew that when he was here. He has proven that since he has been gone. He has been kicking with a number of different teams. Unfortunately for Shayne, he hasn't stuck anywhere, but that is a real plus for us because we know we're bringing in a guy that not only is a quality NFL kicker but has been in the NFL environment and understands playoff-caliber football at the end of the season. We expect him to come in here and add that veteran experience."

With Billy not practicing today, would it be likely that Shayne is going to be playing on Saturday? (Dave Ginsburg) "We added him to our roster just to make sure we have a kicker. We are going to continue to go through the week, like we always do with all of our players, and make decisions on Sunday."

Should fans be concerned that by adding Shayne that this might be ominous in terms of Billy's future? (Ed Lee) "Fans, I'm sure, will think whatever they want. It's up to them to make their own decisions. We are just trying to win a football game this weekend. That's what's really important to us, and I think that's really important to our fans, too, is winning on Sunday."

Are you guys confident that Billy will be able to return by the time the season is over with? (Dan Kolko) "I am not the medical expert on this, but I have a lot of confidence in Billy. I have a lot of confidence in our trainers. We will see what happens down the road."

I think Shayne has played in two games this year, both with the Miami Dolphins. Do you feel like he is able to get back into a rhythm in terms of kicking field goals? (Ed Lee) "Yeah, I do. We had him in for a workout, and he kicked very well for us in the workout. It ended up we decided to not go with him at that point in time, and then he had a great practice today. I think he is in real good kicking condition. He has been following a very disciplined schedule. He has been treating every week at home like it were an NFL football week. He has plotted out his workouts, so he is practicing just like it were a regular season [week]. So, I think that is really smart on his part, and it has paid off because he had a good practice today."

Jerry, talk special teams concern versus this particular team. (Stan Saunders) "No. 16, Josh Cribbs. (Reporter: "And besides him…") No. 16, Josh Cribbs. (laughing) He is a concern for everybody that plays the Cleveland Browns because he is such an explosive player. I know you all have seen him play before, and he is the kind of guy that can change games. It's our job to make sure that doesn't happen. He is going to be the focus of our attention."

David Reed took a kickoff against the Chargers. Is that a good sign that he might be close to regaining his spot? (Ed Lee) "He did a very good job on that return. I am really pleased with the progress he has made with his ball security, and he demonstrated that the other night on that one return. [Running backs coach] Wilbert Montgomery has done a great job with him, and even on the sideline they were talking through it. He demonstrated that he is learning, so we are going to go through with … He is still one of our kickoff returners, and so is Tom Zbikowski. Then, we will make a decision on [Saturday] who is going to start the game."

If 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] can't play or is limited because of the toe injury, what is your plan regarding the rotation of punt returners. (Ed Lee) "We have a plan. We had a plan the other night, too. It just didn't display itself, so you never got a chance to see our plan. But we do have a plan."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

Anquan Boldin, he hasn't gotten as many catches, statistically, the last couple of weeks. How do you keep a guy like him involved if Joe [Flacco] is looking at other options in the passing game? (Ed Lee) "He is always involved. He is always in our top three progressions. Obviously, he has made some big plays. You are always wanting to get a guy like that the ball more. I think you have to look at the big picture. It would be nice – he has an opportunity to get over 1,000 yards – and there aren't many guys doing that in the league, to compare him throughout the league. The bottom line is he is doing a lot of things to help us win. We'll continually try to get that done."

Can you elaborate on what are those other things he is doing besides just running routes? (Ed Lee) "Helping guys, young receivers, technique. I think I was telling somebody yesterday [that] there are a lot of things involved in Torrey [Smith's] growth. Obviously, [wide receivers coach] Jim [Hostler] does a tremendous job with all those guys. But having Anquan [Boldin] in the room with all the young receivers, he is the only [player], other than David Reed, who was out basically all of last year … Every guy in that room is new. So, his leadership is huge. He blocks as well as anybody. A lot of our big runs are all blocks that he gets. [He also provides] just critical catches in critical situations. But, you're right. Here down the stretch, Anquan Boldin will be tremendously involved."

Cam, with last week's seven sacks, is there a lot of work to be done, or can that just be attributed to San Diego playing very good? (Dave Ginsburg) "Yeah, we gave up two in the last three plays. One was a run out of bounds, and we had a QB-center exchange problem. There was a handful there that we have to get corrected. It was a collective thing. It wasn't the offensive line, it wasn't Joe [Flacco]. Pass protection is about separation, it's about route design, it's about protectors, it's about a whole series of things, so everybody can help improve that. We knew those guys were good. Obviously, we didn't get the job done."

Did your spirits lift, and maybe the whole staff, once Pittsburgh lost and you realized that pretty much almost everything you wanted is still right there for you? (Dave Ginsburg) "I think most of us approach it in terms of what we can control. The bottom line is we have a job to get done whether they won or lost that game, and we're committed to getting that job done. I know one thing: Coming back, it was a short night because of our trip, I went to bed, had no control of whether they won or lost. I was planning on, and I think all of us were, planning on having the best day we could possibly have, regardless of that outcome. It's a long season. It's 16 games. You play them out, you see what happens. We are in the position we need to be in to get done what we need to get done. All of our guys know that. You really don't ever want to rely on anybody else. Get done what you've got to get done. With that being said, it was a plus."

Cam, are defensive statistics deceptive? (Stan Saunders) "They can be. (Reporter: "That's what I am wondering. Is Cleveland a better defensive team than what numbers might show?") Well, their numbers show they are a top-10 defense. Those don't lie. Obviously, the last time we played them, the weather conditions, a lot things factored into the way we approach those guys. They had some injuries, they had lost a couple of guys right before our last game. They've played extremely well since our game. You go back and look at the Pittsburgh game. That's all you need to look at. Look at how they played against Pittsburgh. They gave up two big plays, or basically, Pittsburgh may not have scored in that game. In Arizona, they gave up two big plays again, or they are basically shutting that offense down, who has given a lot of people problems. Arizona is a good football team – we saw that. From our perspective, we don't look at the record. We look at the defense, and it's a good defense. I know that is what you are alluding to. They are a good defense. We were fortunate to run the ball the way we did against them. Ray [Rice] was on fire. His tracks were flawless. Our offensive line did an outstanding job. They'll have some adjustments that we'll have to be ready for. We know we're in for a dogfight."

Both John Harbaugh and Terrell Suggs said that they thought maybe Joe [Flacco] held the ball a little bit too long against the San Diego Chargers, but Joe thought otherwise. What did you think? (Ed Lee) "Going back to just what I said, it was a collective thing. Every play kind of had its own issues, but the ball was coming out. If you look at [it], there were some things that didn't get done. We're going to learn from those things. It's exactly what I alluded to earlier. It was a collective [effort]. Each play was a little bit different."

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano

What's the mood like in the defensive meeting rooms after a game like Sunday night? (Ed Lee) "As you would expect, disappointed. We've got guys … 'Sizzle' [Terrell Suggs] looks up at the scoreboard and he sees 31-7, and he says, 'Are we this bad?' You know, they're just not used to that. And give San Diego credit, they came out, and we knew they'd been playing really well. Their quarterback was playing at a high level, and they're healthy and their wideouts are healthy. It was pretty somber. But at the same time, it's the NFL, and it can be very humbling. That's why you take it week to week and you try to stay … 'Keep it on the highway,' we say, never too high, never too low. You've got to get over it and move on."

During the times of film review, is it basically like a forum, [where] anyone can chime in and provide input of what they think happened or didn't happen? (Ed Lee) "It was pretty evident, you know, what went down and what happened. So, we've got accountable guys, and it all starts with me. There are some spots that I could have done a better job and helped these guys out. Everybody is accountable, like I said, and they take ownership; they take accountability. So, we get back to work and fix the things that need to be fixed and move on."

How much does it help to have veterans, so that maybe that feeling doesn't linger of disappointment and feeling down on yourself? (Evan Washburn) "They handle that – those guys, Ray [Lewis] and those guys. It was going on in the locker room right after the game. Guys are in there, their heads are down and this that and the other. They talked to those young kids and they told them, 'Hey, this can happen on any given Sunday. But the sun is going to come up tomorrow. We've got another game, thank God. If that was the last one, you'd really be upset.' But those guys did a great job with everybody and they find a way, especially Ray and [Jarret Johnson] and Ed [Reed] in the back. We've got great leadership at all three levels, so they did a great job of bringing those guys back."

What do you see out of Seneca Wallace, who could potentially play this week instead of Colt McCoy? (Jason Butt) "Seneca is a vet. He's been in that system for a number of years. He's a West Coast guy, he understands it. He's an athletic guy. He's got a strong arm. He knows where to go with the football. He gets it out quick, and he's athletic. He can break a contain in a heartbeat. So, we've got to do a great job, not only playing tight coverage and matching the routes, but doing a great job of containing him."

For Jimmy [Smith] in particular, several people have said it was a learning experience, starting with John Harbaugh on Monday. What is he learning from this? What did he learn? (John Eisenberg) "Well, No. 1 that they're going to go after rookies. No. 2, you've got to have amnesia to play that spot. It's physically one of the most demanding positions to play on the field, especially when you're playing against that caliber of a quarterback and wide receiver. So, you have to go back and you've got to look at the tape. You've got to study yourself. You've got to look at yourself as the next offensive coordinator is looking at you. Until you put the fire out, they're going to keep coming, and they're going to keep trying you and keep trying you, like I said, until you put the fire out and start making some plays. I think he realizes that it all starts at practice. We always say, 'You play like you practice.' Finish the plays, which he's doing a great job. He's done a great job so far this week of finishing in practice. Again, he found out that, you saw what they did, they went after him early. They went after both guys. The great thing about Jimmy is he's kind of unflappable that way and pretty calm. He looked at what he needed to correct from a technique standpoint, so we move on from there."

What has this year been like for you? I mean taking over for a long chain of great coaches, what has it been like for you thus far? (Dave Ginsburg) "Really, it's a dream come true. I think if you asked anybody, given this opportunity, they'd tell you the same thing. We've got great assistant coaches, great guys to work with, great players, great leadership, a great organization. I was just in the right place at the right time and very fortunate. Again, it's been more highs than lows. It's been exciting watching these guys play and been a great experience to this point. But, you know what? Until we finish this thing … Our goal is to get to Indianapolis and be the No. 1 defense in the league – if we don't accomplish that, then it will be a disappointing year, as far as I'm concerned, as far as our kids are concerned."

Toward that end though, you've really had more blitz packages. Terrell Suggs calls you the Joker because you never know what's going to come from you. Is it something that all your years of experience have grown into this? Or you look at what you had and then made adjustments? (Dave Ginsburg) "I think it's just a combination of, like you're saying, getting exposed to a lot of different schemes, and I think just a multitude of things. With the lockout, and being here for three years prior to having the title so to speak, there's a lot of stuff that was carry over. And then we as a staff, there's a lot of input in the room, so collectively, we try to put together as good of plan as we can week-in and week-out and move some things around. It may seem complex to the offense, but really simple to our guys. And our coaches and players get all the credit because they can go out and learn it, and put the time in, and they execute it. We give them a big volume every week."

In your career over the years on a playoff push like this, postseason and end of the regular season stretch, you say, 'Find a way to win.' Do you maybe think about the mental aspect of this game versus the physical? How much do you balance that right now? How much is one over the other, because everybody is big, strong and fast. You've seen each other; everyone is physical. But do you think that will to win is something that transcends onto the field? (Stan Saunders) "Absolutely. I think at this point, the beginning of the season, the middle of the season, is a grind. We've gotten ourselves in position. We've gotten in the tournament. We need to close this thing out to make the road to Indianapolis a little bit easier than in years past. From a mental standpoint, our guys understand that. So, you can see the excitement, the electricity, especially coming off of Monday night's game. Them coming in here the next day was a little bit easier than anticipated, coming off the loss. They amped things up from a mental standpoint, from a preparation standpoint. Physically, everybody is what they are, we are what we are. And now we just have to go out there and execute. You've got to play."

How did Ray Lewis do in his first game back? (Ed Lee) "Excellent. I mean, he didn't miss a beat. I know he had a huge impact like he always does. He didn't miss a beat."

Everyone that's been a defensive coordinator here has gone to be a head coach. Does that ever cross your mind? (Dave Ginsburg) "No. Not at this point. I don't think coach [John] Harbaugh, or anybody I've ever worked for, would want anybody … I remember, going all the way back to when I was a kid growing up and my dad being a football coach. He asked the same question of all the assistants that he ever hired, 'Is your goal to be a head football coach?' And he always says if somebody had answered him, 'Not really. I'm OK just being a position coach,' I don't think he really wanted them on the staff, because he wanted ambitious guys. I think if you asked anybody they'd say, 'Yeah, that'd be something you always work for and towards.' So, my focus and our focus is on the Cleveland Browns – period."

With a rookie like Jimmy Smith and the position he plays, and with the stakes what they are, is there one point of emphasis for a guy in his position that you work on more than anything else? "You're talking about Jimmy? As far as what now? (Reporter: "Just in terms of the stakes of December and January, and the visibility of that position, and just keeping a rookie grounded, I guess.") Again, I think it just goes back to doing a great job of self-evaluation – looking at the film, studying himself, looking at the things, the mistakes you made coming out of not only the last ball game, but every rep that he's taken since he's been back. He's got to look at himself through the eyes of the offensive coordinator. He's got to say, 'OK, I'm [Cleveland head coach] Pat Shurmur. How are they going to attack me? What am I doing wrong when I'm off? What am I doing in press? What am I doing in Cover 2?' I think he's got to take a great look at himself that way. And then, between him and his position coach, they've got to go to work fixing the fundamentals and techniques. When things start to break down, you can't press, because when you start to press, it just gets worse. Like a great hitter in baseball, you just keep swinging, and eventually, you'll get out of the slump, right? Don't press, just go back to your fundamentals. Go back to your techniques. Be great with your eyes. Be disciplined with everything that you're doing. Be great with the communication. Be great with knowing what the scheme is and being on the same page with the rest of the guys. Things will get better from there."

Is it a situation where he could maybe talk to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron or Joe Flacco or Anquan Boldin and get their input as to how they would go after him? (Casey Willett) "I think you could talk to a lot of guys, from that standpoint, as far as that goes. I think [wide receivers coach Jim] Hostler, he'd be a guy that would say, 'OK.' He spent time watching Jimmy go in one-on-ones versus his guys all the time. Not only [Hostler], and like you're saying, the receivers. They'd tell him, 'Hey, you're giving away this. This is what you're doing wrong in press.' As a guy that's gone against some of the best corners in the league year after year, Anquan could be a great benefactor as far as that goes, as far as talking to him. You want to take input, and you want to give advice again. But you don't need too much going in, you need clarity."

What makes you lose sleep at night about Cleveland's offense? (Stan Saunders)"Big No. 40 [RB Peyton Hillis] running downhill. First and foremost with them, that's always been … My time in Cleveland and the AFC North and coming and playing against Jamal Lewis and all of those early years, I was on the bad side of a couple of those big days that he had. That guy running downhill. We always talk about how we have to stop the run first and foremost and now you've got a veteran. We think Seneca [Wallace] is going to be the guy – I guess that's what's going to be reported, and if he is he is – but a guy like that that can make plays outside the pocket, extended plays. The guys have to do a great job of not only covering … It's like playing the Steelers and how Ben [Roethlisberger] extends a play, that's scary. And they've got some guys that can … You saw in the Arizona game where he got loose and got one to Greg Little for 76 yards. So, those are the things we've got to avoid."

And their offensive line, how much respect do you give them? (Stan Saunders) "They've got good players. Pro Bowler left tackle, and center has been playing great ball for a long time. Tony [Pashos] is a prototype right tackle. So they can run the football, and they can protect that guy. I'm sure they're going to get the ball out of [Wallace's] hand quick. He's going to run around a little bit, but he's going to try to pound us and take some shots down the field and do those types of things."

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