CLEVELAND BROWNS – Player Quotes (08/15/16)

Included below are select quotes from interviews with the following Browns players during today’s media availability:

· OL Joel Bitonio

· WR Josh Gordon

· QB Robert Griffin III (full transcript)

· WR Andrew Hawkins

· LB Emmanuel Ogbah

OL Joel Bitonio:

On how the OL performed in the first preseason game:

“Definitely some stuff to work on. The first group got maybe 11 plays so we didn’t really get into a huge rhythm. On some of the runs, there was a chance. (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.) broke one, and he probably could’ve gone for 30 or 40 (yards) if we would’ve made one more block on that. On one of the ones Crow (RB Isaiah Crowell) got tackled for a loss, there was some good blocking but one or two guys. It is the O-line just trying to get our form back and (OL) John (Greco) has been out for a while, (OL) Austin (Pasztor) just moved to right tackle so they’re just working together and (OL) Cam (Erving) was out for a little bit so we’re all just working together and kind of putting that group back together. For the first game, there were a lot of positives and definitely stuff we need to work on and we’re trying to work on to get ready for Atlanta this week.”

On playing his first game since his injury last season:

“It felt great. It was fun to be back out there. Cool stadium, Lambeau (Field) was nice and to be out there and play and me and (OL) Joe (Thomas) got some double teams and got to work on some pass protection stuff. It feels like old days again.”

On Pasztor’s performance at RT:

“I thought he fought hard. I thought he did some really good things. I think everybody had some technical things. Once you get into the game, it kind of speeds up again so you’re kind of rushing. Your technique kind of goes out the door a little bit sometimes. He was playing really hard and he knew what he was doing. There were some technical things where he can do this a little better or this a little better, and I think that’s just going to come with more reps at tackle.”

On if it was frustrating to battle an injury last season:

“Super frustrating. I injured my same ankle twice, same injury pretty much back to back. The whole season my rookie year, we went 7-9 and last year we went 3-13. We were in the hunt my first year and then last year it was kind of over once I got hurt. It was definitely something that you’re like, ‘Man.’ My rookie year went so well and you take it for granted, almost. Now you come back and I worked my tail off this offseason to get back and I’m ready to go now. We’re excited to get back out there and I think we’re bringing a good line together.”

WR Josh Gordon:

On being activated today:

“I think every day that I’m back means a lot to me. I’m glad to be out there with my brothers, put my helmet back on and get back in the swing of things.”

On how much he will practice today:

“I think today might be a light day, a little lighter than usual, so probably not that much I don’t think for anybody. I plan on taking a lot of mental reps, getting the most I can mentally from the outside looking in.”

On how his quad is feeling:

“It’s great. Quad is great. Best it has felt in a long time.”

On if there is a chance he will play Thursday:

“I’m not sure. I’m not sure. That is something you have to ask (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson).”

On him appearing to be happy:

“Yeah, it’s something that I really haven’t felt in a long time. Once you get that type of feeling, type of vibe and environment being around happy people, it kind of just rubs off you. I’ve missed it. Being back in it, I love it and I try to take full advantage of it. I’m glad to be back and that’s probably what you saw there.”

On if he now appreciates things he might not have before:

“I think definitely, definitely, especially here in the preseason. A lot of guys don’t take that seriously, but every opportunity you can get out there and show what you can do, hurt or not, I think guys should take it seriously and I definitely take it seriously. I like to have fun while I’m here.”

On what he’s been doing off the field to get ready to play:

“Away from the field, it’s a lot of mental reps, really in meetings, taking a lot more notes trying to pick up the offense a lot quicker compared to all the guys that have been here this time. I have a lot of room to close that gap and pick up and hopefully play here soon. It takes a lot of effort, and I think that’s what I need to do. It’s good to create the habit.”

On his weight and where he needs to be:

“I’m not sure where I’m at right now. I haven’t weighed in, but there really isn’t a number. Nobody really gave me a number. I kind of set my own goal in my head of what I used to play at, but I feel just as strong, just as fast as I ever felt before, if not stronger, if not faster. We’ll see how my production is and we’ll go from there once we evaluate and get some stuff on film. I’ll be able to tell how I feel once I get out there.”

On Jackson saying he’s lost weight since his return:

“Yeah, definitely. I was getting work in off the field, in treatments, workouts on my own and with the team a lot more than I was used. I’ve definitely been toning up.”

On the difference in his attitude and approach coming back now compared to 2014:

“That was such a long time ago. I really couldn’t even tell you, but I know right here in 2016 these guys are great. This opportunity we have here is nothing that I’ve felt before, seen before and I really want to be a part of it. I think as Ms. (Cleveland.com beat writer Mary Kay) Cabot was saying, just being happy. Everybody feels differently and you feel more enthusiastic about coming to work when guys commit themselves to win. I think it rubs off on everybody and I think that’s just what the coaching needs to be here. I really bought into it and I think the rest of the guys have.”

QB Robert Griffin III:

On WR Josh Gordon being activated and how close Gordon is to playing:

“You have to ask (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson) and the trainers about how close he is to playing. We know as a team it’s great to have him back out there and look forward to seeing him go to work and really put his best foot forward.”

On if he played enough at Green Bay to evaluate his performance:

“You evaluate everything that you do so we went over it, looked at it, figured out what we need to do better as a team. We know we can have a better showing collectively as a group and that’s what we look forward to doing at home. It’s exciting that we get another opportunity to go out there and play.”

On how long it takes a QB to develop the chemistry to know where a receiver will be on the field, specifically in reference to his interception on Friday:

“I just think it comes with knowing the offense and continuing to work at it every single day. We have got a lot of time before the first game of the season and we can continue to work on those things, but like I’ve said before, you just can’t have those things happen. We’ll work to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore, and that’s on me.”

On if taking the number of hits he did in a limited snaps is disconcerting:

“I’m not worried about that. I trust the guys in front of me: (OL) Cam (Erving), Grec (OL John Greco), (OL) Joe (Thomas), (OL) Joel (Bitonio) and (OL) Austin (Pasztor). Those guys are going to protect me as a quarterback, and we’re going to lean on them in the running game and in the passing game to make us right. Those are our big dogs up front. I trust them 100 percent.”

On if it is somewhat a positive to be getting up after taking a hit for the first time in almost a year:

“You never celebrate getting hit, but it was awesome. Like I’ve said before, it’s just a pleasure to be out there with great people and have an opportunity to play a game that you love. Getting hit is a part of that. As bad as it sounds, yeah, I enjoyed the process of being in a football game and having an opportunity to play.”

On what he’s learned about taking care of himself to stay healthy for 16 games:

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot from my early playing years. I’m still really young. I’m only 26, but in four years, I’ve learned a lot about how to take care of yourself on the field. I haven’t played 16 games. Although, in 2013, I had an opportunity to so it’s not that. It’s just continuing to learn how to get down, how to take care of your body and be available for the next play. That’s the thing that I’ve learned the most.”

On if he had a scare with the first hit he took at Green Bay, given the placement of his leg when it occurred:

“No, I mean my leg got stuck in the ground on the play I was throwing to (WR Terrelle Pryor) TP, but I’m fine. Nothing is wrong with me and TP made a great play. That’s all you really worry about. We got the completion, made a big play happen and that’s what we’re looking for – big plays out of our offense.”

On if past injuries linger in the back of his mind when playing:

“No, you know what it feels like, but that’s not the thing you’re focused on every time you step on the field. You know there is a risk that you can get hurt, but you don’t play scared of that. You go out and you play ball and trust the guys in front of you and the guys around you to make plays for you.”

On if Gordon has been chomping at the bit to return to play and what Gordon has been like the past couple of weeks:

“Josh, he’s like anybody. Like I said, it’s a beautiful game you get to come out and play. He wants to play. He is excited to be back and he’s had the injury and that’s slowed him down a little bit, but he’s constantly getting in extra work, whether it’s boxing, running, catching the ball. I know he’ll be ready when he steps out there. He knows what he has to do to get ready to play ball.”

On if there is an understanding between him and the coaches to play reserved and save it for the regular season:

“No, like I said, every time you’re out there, it’s a game until you’re not in the game. That’s the way you have to approach it. We’re trying to go out there, make sure we execute our offense at a high level, put points on the board and defenses aren’t just going to let you do that. You have to be able to know what the scheme is, how we’re trying to do trying to attack them. Atlanta has a really good defense, and we have to make sure that we go out and we execute the way we can.”

On if he felt rusty at all when returning to a game on Friday:

“No, it didn’t. Like I said, it was just an excitement. It truly is a blessing and you never know. I’ve had football taken away from me a couple times due to injury and some other circumstances so you never know what you have until it is gone. When football is taken away from you – I know a lot of guys have had it taken away from them permanently – when you get a chance to get back out there on the field, you appreciate it. There are no thoughts of that, just excitement.”

On Jackson’s comment that he expects the Browns to make a huge jump in the second preseason game:

“It just means we as an offense and as a team have to go out and execute better. I didn’t do a good enough job of helping us put points on the board, and that’s what we want to do. That’s the name of our game. We have to go out and score points. We want to move the ball consistently, get points on the board and make sure that we’re executing the way that we know we can and what Coach has put out for us in the gameplan.”

On his relationship with Gordon and their connection and production at Baylor:

“It was fun, a lot of fun. We had some great games, some great times together and we’re looking forward to really building that here in Cleveland. It’s not just Josh. It’s not just (WR) Corey (Coleman). It’s all the receivers. All of those guys can go out and make plays. It’s just about giving them an opportunity. That’s my job as a quarterback is to give them opportunities to make, plays and I know they’ll make me right.”

On how excited he is about the Browns offense’s potential, given the talent at skill positions:

“There are pieces there and we know that. It’s just about making sure that we’re attention to detail and we execute as best as we can because the talent is there. It’s not a shortage of talent. We just have to make sure we do things the right way when it’s time to win.”

On difficulty building chemistry with receivers when several have missed time due to injury, which happened during yesterday’s practice:

“Kudos to the young guys for stepping up and getting in there to practice and running the right routes and making sure that they’re completing the catch and doing things the right way. We have to get our guys healthy. Everyone knows that. It’s our responsibilities as players to make sure that we’re ready to go, and I know those guys will be ready.”

On if playing in front of the Browns’ home crowd for the first time will have a special meaning:

“Yeah, it’s always special whenever you can play a home game. Big shout out to the Dawg Pound. We’re excited to get there and really see them and put on for them. When you can bring someone to your home, lock the gate and play football, that’s a fun experience.”

On if he has talked with Jackson about the number of series he should play from now until the end of preseason to ready for Week 1:

“No, that’s not my place nor my job. My job is go out and when Coach says, ‘You play,’ you play. I know all the guys in the locker room are that way. Everyone is itching to play football, itching to play football but that’s Coach’s decision on how much we play.”

On if he has ever played at First Energy Stadium:

“I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ve ever played in Cleveland, but I’ve been hearing and I’ve seen the crowd and the way they react to their team. I’m excited about feeling that on the home side of things.”

WR Andrew Hawkins:

On what it will be like to see WR Josh Gordon return to the field:

“It’s going to be awesome. It’s a long time coming. Like I said, he’s been incredible this training camp and I think everyone is excited to see him back in a Browns uniform and continue his chase to be the best Josh he can be.”

On the Brown offense’s potential considering the talent at WR:

“I think we have a lot of talent. We have a lot of work to put in still because the talent is only one side of it, and I think everybody is taking the steps to get that done. It’ll be a process, but as long as we’re working, as long as everybody is all in, we have the possibility to be a pretty good corps.”

On how excited he is to play in this offense under Head Coach Hue Jackson:

“I’m really excited just because I know what kind of an offensive mind Hue is and I know what kind of untapped potential that we have. What is potential, though? We have to show it out there. We have to prove it. We have to put the work in. It’s not something that is going to happen overnight. Consistency is the name of the game in the NFL so we have to figure out a way to not only be good but be good on a consistent basis. Otherwise, like I said, it’s just all headlines and quotes.”

On if he’s concerned about the WR corps, given recent injuries:

“Not concerned at all. Injuries happen every single year. Receivers get hurt every single year since the beginning of football. That’ll be a headline next camp, the camp after that, with every single team throughout history. We just have to get right. All we can focus on is trying to get the injuries prevented and get back from the ones that we’re in and continue on. You really can’t control that stuff. That’s what makes football special and that’s what makes it such a crapshoot sometimes.”

LB Emmanuel Ogbah:

On his first preseason game:

“It felt good being out there going against another team. Now, I got the first game jitters out of my system so I’m ready.”

On his performance on Friday:

“I thought I played decent. I played good, I did my job, did my responsibilities. It just felt good being out there again.”

On how much confidence his performance in the first preseason game gives him going forward:

“It definitely gives a lot of confidence because first I’m relieved – first game, just getting out and seeing how offensive tackles and offensive linemen are – but it feels good just going out there and just doing my thing.”

On Head Coach Hue Jackson’s comment that he liked that Ogbah pushed through and continued to play hard to make a play, even after looking tired:

“Oh yeah, I was a little gassed. It was like a long drive, but I just kept pushing myself. I just push myself as far as I can, and I felt like my team needed me. That one play we had to stop them for them to kick that punt so I just gave it my all.”

On if he noticed a big difference from college football versus his first NFL preseason game:

“I would say I didn’t really notice much of a big difference. It’s just football – 11 on 11, man on man.”

On DL Carl Nassib:

“Carl is a great player. We were both drafted for a reason. We were both drafted to come here and change the program. Carl is a character. He loves to go out there and have a good time, just make plays. We told each other, like I told him, since he got the first sack, I was like I have to get one too before the game is over, and I finally got one so that was good.”

On if he is comfortable playing DE in a 3-4 or if it is still a transition for him:

“Like I said, I’m learning different things every day. I’m learning the position every day and just getting better every day.”

On attend LB meetings:

“Right now, I’m with the defensive line most of the time.”

On if he may end up back at OLB at some point:

“Yeah, I have a feeling I will be back at outside linebacker, but I don’t know. It’s whatever the coaches want me to do.”

On what parts of his skillset he needs to use well to be successful in the NFL:

“I would say my length and my speed. Being how quick I am, I can easily be quicker than an offensive lineman. Yeah, they’re bigger than me, but I still have to be quicker than them so that they can’t get their hands on me.”