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Mike Pettine Wraps Up Training Camp, Looks Forward to Washington

At the conclusion of today's practice, Browns head coach Mike Pettine spoke with reporters. Pettine provided updates on a number of players and looked forward to the team's preseason matchup with the Redskins on Monday.

Jason Miller

Training camp concluded today for the Browns, bringing us closer to the beginning of another football season. The Browns' opener against the Steelers on Sunday, September 7th can't come soon enough.

In the meantime, the quarterback competition rages on and three preseason games lie ahead for the Browns. There's still a ways to go before the Browns suit up for battle with the Steelers.

After the end of Saturday's practice, Browns head coach Mike Pettine spoke with the media, talking about both the big picture and the minute details of training camp. Pettine divulged how playing time will be handled in Washington, and also provided updates on several injured players.

The transcription below is courtesy of the Browns.

On what he didn’t like about the fight during practice: "I just thought it went a little too far. I understand and have spoken on fights before. That’s going to happen sometimes. That’s the price of doing business, but I thought we got out of the realm of being good teammates. Also, I just think overall practice, to that point, I thought was a little too sloppy for my liking. It was kind of a culmination of the sloppiness and then the length of the fight. The thing I was pleased about was how they responded after. I thought they were sharp. They were focused. They practiced how they should, but I just told them after that we don’t need a traumatic event to kind of snap us back into place, that we need to be mature enough and professional enough to be able to handle tough circumstances and practice well."

On what he thought about OL Joe Thomas being at the bottom of the fight’s pile:"I talked about it’s part of it, but we’ve got to be able to protect each other. We’re all wearing the same logo."

On the team running sprints because of the fight, including the players that weren’t involved in the fight: "It’s a team sport."

On DB Buster Skrine’s injury: "I’m not sure how long he’ll be, but we think he should be available for the opener. He injured his thumb, but we’re confident that he should be ready to go for Pittsburgh."

On DL Desmond Bryant: "He has an issue with his wrist, but he’s had some doctors look at it – something that’s been bothering him for a long time."

On if Bryant will need surgery: "At this point, that’s still a possibility."

On Bryant not wearing anything on his wrist at practice: "When he’s not practicing, he won’t, but when he’s practiced he’s worn something on it. That was a couple of days of practice he was trying out different ways to cover it and was trying to find the right thing to put on it."

On if Skrine will need surgery on his thumb: "I’ll probably know that today."

On if WR Josh Gordon will play against Washington on Monday night: "We’re hopeful. We’ll see how he responded to the activity. I talked to him during practice. He said he was still a little sore, but he was pushing through it."

On if not knowing the outcome of Gordon’s appeal is becoming tiresome: "Not much has changed. We respect that there’s a process. I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t frustrating. I think anybody would be frustrated because you just want to know, and we have our plan set. We’re just waiting, patiently waiting. Some people maybe not so patiently, but it’s something that it’s outside of our control. That’s something that I stress to the team. We talk about being mentally tough and handling circumstances. We don’t control that. Therefore, we won’t worry about it."

On if there is a protocol where General Manager Ray Farmer can gather some intelligence from the league about Gordon’s appeal: "That’s probably more of a question for him, but I can confidently say that we’ve done all we can do."

On what he didn’t like about practice and if he noticed a trend of sloppiness in recent practices: "No, this was a day where we didn’t want to hit as much, so we took the thud off of the team work. We we’re just tagging off. I thought some guys got sloppy with that. I just think we were just loose with some of the checks. You can just tell we weren’t sharp. Then, you hear comments being made at times where guys worrying about things they don’t have control over. That’s what we want to get away from. We talk about being mentally tough, and when I called them up – where in the NFL, are all the circumstances going to be ideal for what you’re used to? We used to say it everywhere I’ve been, ‘when things are tough on everybody else that means they’re just right for us.’ I think you have to have that mentality because if you don’t it’s rarely going to be ideal. You’re not going to be successful if you’re waiting for all the circumstances to be in your favor."

On how QB Johnny Manziel did practicing with the first-team offense during this week of practice: "I thought it was a good rack for him. I thought both quarterbacks have been practicing well of late, which by the way we just set a record for…was that about eight minutes in before I got a quarterback question (laughs)? I think they’ve both responded well, and I think (offensive coordinator) Kyle’s (Shanahan) starting to come to tailor what he’s calling for them to more suit them, to prepare them for the game work. We’re very pleased with where that whole room is."

On how Manziel took the news that he won’t start in the second preseason game: "I’m not sure. I wasn’t there. (quarterbacks coach) Dowell’s (Loggains) the one that let the quarterbacks know."

On how he thought Manziel responded at practice yesterday after getting the news: "He’s a competitor. He wants to be out there. I assume his reaction was what you’d expect."

On how Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden saying that his starters will play at least a quarter will affect the Browns’ plan on reps and if there is ever communication between the two teams about playing time going into a preseason game: "Yeah, I’ll reach out to Jay before we head down there, but his plan is his plan. It’s his football team, and if we have to make some adjustments to get the matchups we want then we will."

On reaching out to Gruden just to talk about playing time: "Yeah, I’ve known Jay for a while and a couple other guys on that staff. You usually try to reach out, just touch base to get a feel for substitutions and how things are going to be handled overall."

On it being five minutes into the press conference before asking about the QBs:"Sorry, seemed a lot longer (laughs)."

On if QB Rex Grossman will play against Washington: "I’m not sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if we held him and let him play next week just because he’s been here such a short period of time. I know it’d be tempting because he’s played in Washington, knows their defense. I think it’d be tempting to do that. (QB) Connor’s (Shaw) a guy who’s worked hard through camp, and if we don’t feel Rex is completely ready, probably more physically than mentally, then you’ll probably see Connor get some reps over Rex."

On if he would like to see RB Terrance West take reps with the first team against Washington: "The other position rotations we’re going to discuss that, but that’s one I would like to see him out there, as well. More so, going against a first defense than necessarily with our first offensive line, but that’ll be good work for him."

On if Loggains and Shanahan are building towards a consensus about the quarterback competition and if there are strong opinions for Hoyer and Manziel: "I’ve spoken to that. There are thoughts from everybody that are pro for both of them, and that’s why it’s something that we’re going to, I’m sure, have a lengthy discussion over and do what’s best for us and what’s best for our team moving forward into the Steeler game."

On if he would do anything different heading into the game against the Redskins if Gruden said he was only going to play his starters for a quarter: "No, that’s a hypothetical. We’ll cross that bridge if it happens, but I won’t deal in that."

On if he would be inclined to give the second string QB extensive reps in the third preseason game if he names a starter for the season opener on Tuesday:"Sure, preseason – it’s no different than any other team that has a starter and a No. 2. You just kind of get a feel for, ‘OK where is the starter? We want to get him a good amount of work with the No. 1’s, but when the No. 2’s are up there you want your back-up to get all that work as well.’ I don’t think it’ll change the amount that we would play those guys."

On Grossman playing in the third preseason game: "That would probably be later in the game, and then we haven’t made a decision yet on the fourth game. I’ve already alluded to it. I don’t know if we’re in a position that we can rest our guys in the fourth game. I think we need to play, so we’re going to take that mentality and just kind of see where we are from a health standpoint. I wouldn’t be surprised if our No. 1’s play some in the fourth one."

On if the starting QB would play in the fourth preseason game: "Yes."

On if there is something new he would like to see from the defense against Washington: "No, I just want to see them go out there and execute. It wasn’t a ton of work that we got against Detroit, just want to see them go out, and – as any coach would – you want to see your guys get better. You should be able to take that next step, whether it’s communication, whether it’s execution of a technique. Just playing with each other I think is important, understanding where the guy next to you is going to be and the communication during the game. Then, just the stuff when they come off to the side, you’re looking at the still prints, just the mechanics of all the stuff you get on game day that you don’t get in practice. I think all that, and we need to take a step forward, not just on defense but the whole team with that as well."

On if he’s happy with the communication on defense: "I am, especially on the backend. I think (secondary coach) Jeff Hafley’s done an outstanding job with that group. They communicate well. We’ve gotten a lot of quality reps with them together. It’s been good to see (DB Justin) Gilbert out there the last couple days playing with those guys, looking forward to seeing him on Monday night against some top-caliber receivers."

On who will play nickel back if Skrine and DB Isaiah Trufant are unable to play:"We might play without a nickel and just play with a third safety. (DB) K’Waun Williams got a little nicked up. We’re not sure what his availability is going to be. (DB Robert) Nelson’s another guy that could play inside if he had to. He’s been primarily playing outside. That’s all stuff that we need to get with (Browns head athletic trainer) Joe Sheehan and see where we are health-wise and go ahead and build a lineup accordingly."

On if how the QB play against back-ups affects his evaluation of them: "Yeah, I think you look at the whole picture – who are they in with and who are they going against? You don’t want to get a false sense of…you see some of these back-up quarterbacks that are playing well late in preseason games, and you fall into that trap of why ‘isn’t he playing?’ Then all of a sudden you see them get put in with the No. 1’s and it’s different. I think you have to understand that when you assess it you assess all the circumstances involved: who they’re with and who they’re going against."

On if there has been more of an effort to get WR Travis Benjamin more reps in the rotation and if that would affect his reps returning kicks: "I think he wants to get a couple returns. I think ‘Tabs’ (Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) has already talked about that he’ll get one or two hopefully. It’s important for him. It’s hard to have a guy out there that just has one…you don’t want a wide out that’s truly just a returner. He’s certainly proved so far in his career in the league and going back to his days in Miami that he’s a capable receiver. Whether he’s the fourth or the fifth on game day, I think that’s important that he can be functional."

On what kind of training camp Skrine has had up to this point: "I think if you were ranking guys at how good of a camp they’ve had he’d be right up there at the top. He goes out every day, competes, smile on his face, loves to play. He’s had his share of mistakes. I think the holding stuff has quieted down ever since Haf (Hafley) and those guys put the gloves on them. I think he’s a guy that’s improved. He loves to compete, and he doesn’t just want to hand the job over to Justin Gilbert. I don’t think you can have enough corners in today’s NFL, and Buster’s a guy that’s going to have an important role for us."