BEREA, Ohio— The Browns are giving up over 150 yards a game against the run and are making a concerted effort to address it during the bye week. It starts up front with the defensive line with starters Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor and Desmond Bryant.
Defensive line coach Anthony Weaver said it’s the big plays that are hurting the Browns the most.
“I just think it takes all 11 to be committed to it,” Weaver said. “It’s just gash running plays that are hurting us right now. For most of the game, we’re playing the running game well. Then, you’ll see a 30-yarder or a 25-yarder. Those are the ones we have to stop. If we can stop those, our run defense will be right where we want it to be.”
Weaver was asked if there was any consideration of switching Taylor to nose tackle and Rubin to defensive end.
“I don’t think so,” Weaver said. “I think those guys are playing well. Again, the stats don’t always tell the whole story. Those guys are rolling off the ball. They’re using their hands. Yeah, they may not have five sacks or a million tackles, but they’re creating opportunities for other guys.
“Would I like the sacks to go up and all of those things? Of course, any D-line coach would, but at the end of the day, all you want is your guys to go out there, give it their absolute best effort and make plays when they present themselves,” he said. “Right now, we’ve just got to wait for their plays to come.”
The only players on the stationary bikes were RB Ben Tate (knee) and DL Calvin Barnett (undisclosed). Barnett is on the practice squad.
Pettine said he and his fellow coaches addressed the team before dismissing the team.
“We want to make sure that we come back fresh and focused,” Pettine said. “At the same time, you hate dwelling on the negative, but we’ve very aware of the scrutiny that NFL players are under. We’re more under – coaches and players – more under a microscope than most.
“They represent not just themselves, but their families and the Cleveland Browns – their teammates – when they’re out of the building,” he said. “I just kept stressing it to them. Surround yourself with good people. Make good choices. It’s a good group, and I think that the time off will be well spent. I’m certain they’re going to come back fresh and focused.”
QB Johnny Manziel has not been on TMZ and other media outlets since before he arrived for training camp. He’s expected to return to Texas for the Texas A & M/Arkansas football game this weekend.
Pettine was asked if he had any specific message for Manziel.
“No. Nothing special,” Pettine said. “The position coaches handle that just as far as we want to know, ‘Hey, where are you going to be? What are you up to? To me, it’s…we’ll check in with our guys over the time, but we didn’t treat him any different.”
A team spokesman said Manziel had already left the locker room before the media was permitted to enter after practice.
The NFL has a sign in each locker room regarding the NFL’s personal conduct policy that has at the top “YOUR OFF FIELD CONDUCT MATTERS”.
Ironically, the sign is hanging right next to Manziel’s locker in the Browns’ locker room.
Backup Holder: Pettine was asked if the coaches have thought about using Manziel as the holder to try and slow down the opposing rush and give team’s something else to prepare for.
“Actually, ‘Tabs’ (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) was working some other guys at holder today,” Pettine said. “He’ll circle back to that every once in a while, but we didn’t use Manziel. It was actually (Brian) Hoyer who’s done it before and (Jim) Leonhard who’s the personal protector on the punt as well.”
Pettine said they’re not looking to replace P Spencer Lanning.
“No. It’s just something… Chris will circle back every once in a while just to make sure those guys get reps just in case something happens in a game.”