Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil held a press conference Thursday and fielded some questions from the media. You can read a transcript of what he had to say or watch the press conference here.
"Alright, I'm obviously fired up about this week. I think our coaching staff and our players have worked their asses off to get to this point, and we're excited about getting out there on Sunday and competing with the Pittsburgh Steelers."
On the secondary:
"Those guys have had a ton of reps together out at practice in an ideal situation, they all play together throughout the preseason games -- but that didn't happen. But, those guys are starting to develop a good chemistry with one another and I'm comfortable with where we're at."
On Justin Gilbert:
"I think he's improved every day he's been a Brown, he's really dedicated himself on the practice field and in the classroom, I think he had some great NFL experiences throughout the preseason that are only going to make him a better football player, and he'll play. How much he plays will depend on how the game unfolds, so that's impossible to predict, but he's a part of some of our packages."
On Gilbert's rocky preseason:
"I think a lot of those moments were things that he can learn from, and yeah, we wanted to see how he would react in certain situations, and I think he did a great job. Playing corner is probably the hardest position to play in this league outside of playing quarterback and it's a process and I'm happy with where he's at right now."
On if Desmond Bryant will play Sunday:
"Des right now is day-to-day. Pett [Mike Pettine] will talk more about the injury stuff with you guys, but I'm happy with Armonty [and] there's a couple other guys that have some position flexibility that we could slide out and play our big end spot if we need to. We're fortunate that the Steelers like to run the football some, so we have some big bodies in there that we can roll across that defensive line."
On Ben Roethlisberger:
"I have a ton of respect for Ben; I mean, his resume speaks for himself. He's a different kind of dual threat quarterback -- and when I say that, he's a threat to hurt you when he's in the pocket because he can execute the offense and take what the defense gives him, and he can also get outside of the pocket, extend plays, and hurt you downfield. So he's had a lot of success, obviously, doing both throughout his career. He's a problem for guys when you pressure him to get him on the ground, or at least get him on the ground before he gets rid of the football -- the rules kind of favor him a bit there because you can only hit him in that middle area and he's obviously a big strong guy with great balance that has been able to ward off tacklers throughout his whole career and make plays."
On making play call decisions:
"I'm not nervous, I'm anxious. Pett and I have been together for awhile now and -- I'm mean it's different because we're both on the sideline together: last year he was on the sideline, I was up in the box -- but we communicate well on gameday, we'll probably mix and match who calls what and that's what we did throughout the preseason that worked pretty well for us and we'll go from there."
On the Browns' third down defense:
"I think third down's an area where we've always been able to be successful, but again, I think it starts on early downs: you gotta stop the run early and get them into third-and-longer situations -- if you allow an offense to be in 3rd-and-2, 3rd-and-3, 3rd-and-4 all day those are tough downs for a defense, if you get them in 3rd-and-7-plus the percentages are on your side as a defensive football team -- but I think our ability to mix pressure, mix rush, mix coverage is all stuff we've been able to do to take advantage of offenses on third down."
On changing the top corner's role:
"Joe's [Haden] been great. Whatever we ask of Joe, Joe's a hundred percent on board and he's going to do what's best for this football team, for this defense, and we're going to mix and match them. That's what we did with Darrelle [Revis] when we were in New York and we'll play Joe similar to the way we played Darrelle."
On defending Dri Archer:
"Yeah, I mean any time you put a guy with wide receiver ability in the backfield you could potentially create a mismatch problem where you get that guy on a linebacker. So, that's the challenge. That's the biggest challenge that it presents, it's the same thing teams have been doing with Reggie Bush and Sproles -- you know, you get those scatback type guys that are dynamic in the open field and quick as a hiccup -- they can give linebackers problems."
On how Armonty Bryant will do this season:
"Yeah, I don't want to put a number on it. Armonty's a guy that we liked a lot in Buffalo coming out of the draft -- we were excited when we came here to coach him. Coach [Anthony] Weaver's done a great job with him and he's a guy that has some position flexibility that we can move around, take advantage of some mismatch stuff, but I would expect Armonty to have a good year in our defensive system."
On Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby:
"I think when those guys walk in the locker room, obviously they have instant credibility because of their resumes, but they've exceeded my expectations when it comes to the leadership role. In my years in the NFL, they've been the two best I've been around."