The sixth day of Cleveland Browns training camp has come and gone, and you can find our full Day 6 recap here. Let’s check out what Hue Jackson, Desmond Bryant, Christian Kirksey, Jabrill Peppers and JC Tretter had to say on Wednesday. Remember, Friday is the Orange and Brown scrimmage, so stay tuned for extensive coverage at Dawgs By Nature.
- Jackson was immediately asked about his rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer’s progress.
“Just the National Football League game. We are in situational things right now. There is still so much for him to learn, to see and to experience, but obviously, he is doing some good things as they all are. He is working at it. He has to just stay to the grind every day. It is hard. These guys have been through it. Their bodies are different, the environment is different. You get a day off and you come back, it is just the process for them. They just have to work through the process.”
- Some non-quarterback questions followed, the first asking about new center JC Tretter’s football smarts.
“He is smart. He is tough. He has unbelievable quickness and athletic ability. He is a good get for us. He really takes care of things in the middle of our offense and that is important. It is important to our team.”
- A really good and timely question prompted Jackson to explain in length how he has evaluated practice film to this point.
“The good is that we had not turned the ball over a lot. I think there are some execution things we have done really well. We have seen on offense some things that the defense has thrown at us, which is good because you have to be able to make adjustments as you go so the quarterbacks handled that well. The bad is, obviously, from an offensive standpoint, in the two-minute situation, we have to win those. That is what you want. The defense has done a really good job – a lot of different looks. They are playing a lot of different packages, which is so good for us to see because that is what we will see during the year. That adjustment period as we move forward will help is. The other side on the defense, we have to get more turnovers. We just have to come up with more turnovers. That is what we are stressing. That is what we are after. Today wasn’t about tackling or hitting or any of that. It was about situational football again. The two-minute drill, the defense did a good job.”
- Depending on who you ask, Myles Garrett recorded a “sack” on Cody Kessler while lined up against Joe Thomas. Here’s Jackson’s take on what happened.
“I know I saw a blur going around me. I didn’t know who was over there. I’m not surprised by anything he does. He just has to do it every day. You have to do it every day and keep getting better.”
- Jackson was asked about how he felt having Hall of Fame pass rusher Bruce Smith at practice on Wednesday to work with his defense.
“It is awesome. I was with Bruce at the Washington Redskins. I was coaching on the staff when he was there. I have always had a personal relationship with him. He has a relationship with Myles. I thought it was important for him to come out and spend time with us. He knows (defensive coordinator Gregg) Williams. He knows (defensive line coach) Clyde Simmons. He knows some of our coaches. We all kind of go back. It was good to see him. He looks like he could still play. I would take him on the other side, too (laughter). It is good. Anytime we can have former players or Hall of Famers come back and talk to our players and be around them, I think that is a good thing. Obviously, we have the greatest of all-time in Jim Brown so that is really good for us.”
- How is he planning to prioritize the quarterback rotation for the Orange and Brown scrimmage?
“I haven’t made that decision yet, but it could be. Right now, I don’t see any reason to change it. I want to really evaluate that. I’m going to stand back and just evaluate it all on Friday and not be as involved as I would be just so that I can make a good decision as we move forward for our football team.”
- Jackson fielded multiple questions about the Orange and Brown scrimmage this Friday, but this reply sums things up best.
“We will divide the teams. We will do everything that a game calls for because I think it is important that our players go through that process before we play next Thursday. We will have halftime. We will have a coin toss. We will play it like a game, situational football and see what we can accomplish.”
- What kind of impact does Tretter’s experience and intelligence make on the OL?
“He has done a great job. He is very bright, an exceptional athlete, very tough and strong. Having a guy like that who knows is like having another quarterback. He has done a good job, and we are glad he is here. He has kind of solidified that group in the middle because that is where you have to be. You have to be strong up the middle. He has done a good job thus far.”
- Is Desmond Bryant back to full strength now that he’s taking snaps with the first-team defense?
“He is Des Bryant, no doubt. He is just another guy that needed to get in shape, get back to the grind of playing and understanding our defense because it is different. Those guys are doing a good job over there. There is no question about that.”
- Has his feeling of Cody Kessler changed at all throughout the first week of training camp?
“I do not feel any different today. I have to go watch the tape. Every day I evaluate everything. It is not just the feels or the meetings; it is everything. Everything is going to go into the equation as we make this decision. Right now, I don’t see a need to change anything. We don’t play a game until next Thursday.”
- Was Bruce Smith’s involvement in practice a reason for Myles Garrett working with the first-team defense?
“No, not at all. That was earned. That was earned by that young man by the way he has practiced, by the way he has gotten himself into shape and by his teammates. I think some of his teammates were wondering, ‘Coach, when are you guys going to put him up there? You know, what are you doing?’ He deserves it. He is working hard. No, Bruce had nothing to do with that.”
- Jackson labelled Christian Kirksey one of the leaders of his team, and said he expects him to thrive in their new defensive scheme.
“Obviously, he had a tremendous season last year. I expect him to play even better within this scheme. He is one of the leaders of our defense. Tremendous football player. He is somebody in that locker room that the players look to. I think he will do a great job that way as well.”
- Bryant was asked what the toughest part of missing last season was, and how hard it was watching his team lose so many games.
“It was tough to watch. I wish I could have been in there and help out my guys and help to get a few more Ws, but that is what I’m here to do now.”
- How has he mentally handled his recovery and return to the field?
“My injury is behind me now. Mentally, getting prepared for these games is just getting myself ready to go. We have a little over a month now until we play the Steelers. It takes a lot to be ready for that. That is why we have training camp, and we are out here every day trying to get better mentally and physically.”
- The Browns have drafted several defensive linemen who are younger than Bryant. How does he see the competition stacking up behind him?
“There is a great level of competition on the D line. There are a lot of guys in that room right now and there are only so many positions available on the 53-man roster. From top to bottom, everybody has been going out every day and competing for a job.”
- Danny Shelton looks leaner and quicker this year. Bryant was asked how he sees Shelton’s transformation.
“Danny always had great habits. Even as a rookie, he really treated his game like a pro. You see growth in that. He had great habits, but now he is doing more and more things. He is being more vocal. He is being more of a leader. It is great to see him transition like that, especially on the field. He has settled down a little bit. I think in college, he was a little bit more of a raw, physical talent. He is really learning the game. He is really going to help us all out in the long run.”
Check out Bryant’s full interview at ClevelandBrowns.com.
- What does Kirksey see as the biggest difference in this year’s defense under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams?
“A lot of guys out there running around, playing fast. It gives you a chance to not think about too much. He coaches with aggression. He is putting guys in the best position to win. He kind of takes your physicality and what you are able to do personally and kind of translates that to what position you might be playing on the field. He just allows you to go out there and not think and just have fun and play fast.”
- Transitioning to a new defense is more than concepts, there are humans involved. Kirksey was asked what his biggest personal challenges have been during the transition.
“Obviously, just going from a 3-4 to a 4-3 is different in the scheme and what we do, but I am asked to do the same thing – just go out there and try to make as many plays as possible. Playing alongside (LBs) Tank Carder and Jamie Collins (Sr.), we are forming a great chemistry together as a unit and as a defense. For me, I am just being at the right place at the right time, trying to be a vocal leader and trying to be a guy that leads by example. I wouldn’t say my role really has changed as far as playing linebacker and trying to be the vocal leader. Obviously, the plays are new and it is a different scheme so I am still adjusting to that.”
- Kirksey was asked about Tank Carder getting an increased role this season at “middle linebacker” after the team traded away incumbent starter Demario Davis.
“I am excited, man. I am excited to see Tank finally get that opportunity to go out there and be that linebacker that I know he can be. He is a great special teams player for us. His track history of being a special teams guys, he has been out there making plays on that level. Just to give him a chance to go out there and play linebacker, which we all know Tank Carder, when he was in college, he was Rose Bowl MVP and things like that so he has all the talent in the world to go out there and make plays. I am extremely happy for him to get that chance to show guys what he can do. I have full belief in Tank that he is going to get the job done.”
Check out Kirksey’s full interview on ClevelandBrowns.com.
- Peppers was asked if he’s surprised he hasn’t worked much with the first team yet.
“Not really. Like I said, I didn’t really come in with expectations. You get what you put out. The thing I’m going to do is continue to work hard and continue to show them what I can do. The tape doesn’t lie. If you put good things on tape, good things are going to happen to you. That is what my mindset is going to be.”
- Does Peppers feel challenged by coach Jackson saying he will be used in many different ways?
“Just taking whatever they throw at me. I take everything as a challenge. I’m going to show that not only am I physical enough or fit enough to handle it, but also I have the wits, too. I try to just be as well rounded and know as much as I possibly can to be used in any kind of way. That is my goal for the season.”
- Peppers quickly rebuffed a “jack-of-all-trades and a master of none” question.
“That is what you guys say. I know what I can do. I’m just going to continue to be the best player that I can be.”
- Finally, a question about his actual abilities on the field. Let’s see how Peppers views the punt returner position.
“The first quality is you have to be able to catch a punt. You have to be able to judge the ball in any condition – wind, rain, snow. You have to have instincts. In this league, some punters will tilt one way and lean the other way. You have to be able to make the first guy miss. I think the most important thing besides catching the ball is saving field position. Get to every ball, but if you really feel that you can’t get it or that it would be an extremely tough catch, then you have to be smart. I feel like the most important job as a punt returner is to save field position.”
- Before Jackson discussed his cerebral qualities, Tretter was asked about his football IQ.
“It is a huge part of the position. It is a huge part of the job description. A lot of it is taking the onus off the rest of the guys. You need to come up there, and my job is to come up there and make sure everybody knows what they are doing, who they got. That way, they can play fast. If they are not up there trying to piece together the picture, if you can go up there and tell them what they are looking at, all of a sudden, they can just go up and play football. That is when you get a team playing fast and doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
- How does he view transitioning from playing with Aaron Rodgers to a potentially much younger, or even rookie quarterback?
“I don’t see it as any different. Our job is to protect forever on pass plays and give him as much time as possible. On run plays, it is to move the ball. Obviously, it is only going to help when you can put a run game out there that produces ahead of schedule downs for players. I don’t look at whoever is back there. Whether it is a future Hall of Famer, a rookie a Wildcat quarterback, whoever is back there, our job to open up wholes for the run game and protect for as long as we can.”
- Tretter explained his views on the relationship between a quarterback and center.
“It is really important. The center is the quarterback of the offensive line. I try to talk to all of the quarterbacks as much as possible about different calls, about different things that I am seeing and about what my first thought is to see if we are on the same page just so we can play fast and move things along. I try to talk to each one of them every day just to try to get everybody on the same page. ‘Hey, what is your first thought on this check?’ That way I can just try and take some things off of his mind where if he knows, ‘OK, JC has got it. I can worry about the next thing because he will be on the same page as me before I have to say anything.’ That just makes his job easier.”
- Tretter was asked about the right tackle competition. He said they are “both” playing great, meaning Shon Coleman and Cameron Erving.
“They are both playing great honestly. I think they both come out excited about the opportunity that they have. They are both playing physical, playing hard. It is exciting to watch. Each day, you go in there and both of those guys, whoever is in there, are making huge blocks on that back side. It has been a joy to watch.”