Browns Coach Mike Pettine on Jake Locker: "He's an Intense Competitor"

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BROWNS HEAD COACH MIKE PETTINE

(on coming off of a bye week)

Even though it was early, it was a good spot for us. We were a little nicked up. We've got a couple of guys back. It was a good time for us to kind of sit back and see where we are this early in the year and formulate a plan for moving forward.

(on an early bye week being like an extended training camp)

It helped us some. We were far enough removed from camp that we primarily worked on some issues that we had in the first three games, making sure that we had some live work at corrections in all phases. We basically spent half the time on that while we were practicing and then half the time working on Tennessee stuff.

(on the Browns running backs)

That was a big thing for us. Obviously, we targeted (Terrance) West in the draft and were able to take him and then were very fortunate to pick up Isaiah (Crowell) post-draft. Isaiah, especially, has been a guy that very early on in the spring, when we first got him, it was, 'Hey listen, we need to find a way to have this kid around for a year. He truly needs a redshirt.' Just the progress he made, the more play, the more confident that he got, he really bought into what we were doing and figured out very quickly what it meant to be a professional and how to take care of himself and get into the playbook and all of that. His learning curve accelerated very quickly and has been able to contribute right away. Terrance has been as advertised for us that he's a guy that is a bigger back, but still has ability to make you miss. Both of them, they know they have a long way to go, but we're very pleased with where they are at this point.

(on the running backs adjusting to playing professionally)

I think it was an adjustment for both. I think a lot of it was, it's not necessarily the physical part of it that they hadn't done before. Yeah, there's NFL protections that they had to learn and kind of how to set their tracks on the zone running game. Those are all things that they had to learn right out of the gate. The big thing, I think for anybody coming in is just the terminology. It's like learning a foreign language. It's all stuff they've probably done before, but they need, 'This means this, and what I used to do,' that's a big part of it. You get into some very wordy play calls. That usually is the toughest thing on rookies coming in.

(on what he sees from Jake Locker)

We expect certainly to get his best. We all know the recent struggle there. I know coming back home after being on the road three out of four is a welcome thing for the Titans and for the quarterback especially. We're very familiar with him, because we have Dowell Loggains here, who worked closely with him in his time in Tennessee. He's an intense competitor. He can make all the throws. I think what can separate him when he's playing well is his ability to extend the play with his feet. He's got that rare blend of he's got quarterbacking ability, but he has exceptional speed for the position.

(on having close scores in the past few losses)

We look at it as exactly what it is. We're 1-2, and we're in last place in the division. Do we have confidence coming from that? We do, because we've proven that we have the ability. When we're playing well and we play to our standards, we feel that we cannot just compete with anybody but that we can win any game. That's the way this league is built, based on parity. We don't believe in a rebuilding process. This is very much a win-now league. We don't want to have built-in excuses for ourselves that, 'Hey they're keeping score, let's go win.' We're going to put a team out there and formulate a game plan that gives us the best chance to do that. We're very fortunate with the roster that we inherited, that we got a very much an instant buy-in, and these guys have really taken to what we're doing and going out and playing hard. At the same time, we know this is a bottom-line business, it's all about winning. Those need to start going our way.

(on playing against Jurrell Casey)

I think it's critical. I said to our press this morning, I think he's one of the league's best kept secrets. He's the defensive player that people probably haven't heard of. He's disruptive in all phases, whether he's lined up inside, whether he's lined up outside. He can ruin a running game, and he's already proven that he's an exceptional pass rusher. If he's not getting sack production, he's causing quarterbacks to get rid of it quicker and step up in the pocket. He's causing production for other people. It's a big challenge for us, it's a big challenge. You can look at the film, and he jumps off the tape when we first started to watch it. I had to look at my roster card a couple of times. He's a guy that, similar to the other side of the ball, I think one of the best players that nobody's heard about is Delanie Walker. He's another guy who's very underrated in this league and is playing at a high level.

(on preparing to use Johnny Manziel)

I think that's not why we do it, but I think that's a positive by-product from it. We want to go into a game with a plan that we feel can put us in the best position to be successful. We have the ability to put another playmaker on the field, and that's the way we look at it. Brian Hoyer has been playing very well, playing at a very high level, so it's not something where we were going to share the game with him. It's something that we enjoy doing. It's a very different skill set, quarterback-wise, and that is a very positive by-product that we do. Having been on the defensive side, I know this. It forces you to spend a little bit of extra time game planning and a little bit of extra time at practice preparing for that stuff.

(on Browns QB Brian Hoyer playing at a high level)

I think once the quarterback thing settled down, he's been able to get into a groove and have specific game plans each week for him to sink his teeth into and go out and execute that he's just gotten better every day. To me, he took a lot of heat early on, didn't play particularly well in the preseason, but he still was just enough ahead to win the job. What a lot of people don't realize, Brian (Hoyer) had a lot on his plate, not just the pressure of here's the first time in his hometown being named the starter, whereas before he kind of came from the third spot. He's also coming off a season-ending knee injury from the season before and hadn't really gotten that many live reps throughout the spring because of it. Then throwing in the whole (Johnny) Manziel thing. He had a lot that he was dealing with. I thought he handled it well. It's been a noticeable difference with him. Once he was named the starter, he's just gotten better each week.

(on how comfortable he was with drafting Johnny Manziel)

Every decision we made was about football. There was a lot of stuff kind of swirling around kind of about him when we drafted him and what that would bring and 'here's the circus coming to town.' All of our decisions were made about football, and he made it easy because when he showed up here, he was just another face in the crowd. He was a guy that didn't do anything to bring attention to himself. He would get in early, he would leave late. He got his nose into his playbook. He's been a great teammate. The guys really respect him for how he goes out and works. Internally, there really hasn't been as much as maybe what was swirling outside the building.

(on quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains)

Very knowledgeable. Dowell (Loggains) and I have gotten into some very deep, deep football conversation. It's great to have a guy on the staff who has coordinated before. He's a big help for Kyle (Shanahan), the fact that he's game planned for maybe even the same opponent, same styles of defense. I think he's just a great resource. He doesn't get too fired up. He's one of those guy's who's a voice of reason. I think you have to have that demeanor as a quarterback coach and as a coordinator. I hadn't worked with Dowell before but knew a lot of people who had, and he came highly recommended. I was very excited to be able to make that hire.

(on how the bye-week helped TE Jordan Cameron and RB Ben Tate recover from injuries)

We just got off the practice field. Ben (Tate) is on a progression that was given to us by the trainer to get him back. He went ahead, and I think we'll list him as limited, but he took all the reps that he had planned to take and looked like he's got a little extra hop in his steps. He's excited to get back out there. It's been awhile for him. Same with Jordan (Cameron). He's a guy that knows he's been a little bit nicked up and missed some time and really hasn't been able to get into a rhythm with the season. I think for the first time, he feels like he's close to fully healthy. He's another guy, obviously the time off helped.

(on issues with the Browns defense)

We looked at it. When we give up a negative play, we'll go through that cut up and assess the situation. Was it the scheme? Was it the technique? Was it the player involved? It's really been a mixed bag of things. There hasn't really been one magic thing that we could point to, 'Hey if we get this corrected…'There's no need at this point for us to feel like we need to hit the panic button and change radically. We know that this system is tried and true. It's been played other places, whether it was Buffalo, whether it was New York or even back in Baltimore. We also know that there needs to be a sense of urgency to get it done and get it corrected, that our guys need to know that they need to do their jobs first. If there's any one theme that we've had, sometimes you get some guys that come out of structure; they want to do too much. It's our mantra all along on defense. Do your job, good things will happen. Just because we haven't played together, that comes with playing and trusting that the guy next to him is doing what he's supposed to do.

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