Ken Blaze -- USA Today Sports

Ray Farmer Quotes and Video

Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer met with the media on Friday to discuss the opening days of training camp, as well as his relationship with head coach Mike Pettine and his looming suspension.

Opening statement:

“It is good to get to training camp and see the guys back on the grass. Really excited about Year 2. For us, it’s a chance for us to show everybody how we’ve come together, that we’re more on one accord as far as having a chance to work with and know the team better. We’re really excited about what this season can hold, we like where we’re at and we’re interested to see what our guys can do.”

On DB Justin Gilbert’s improvement:

“The biggest thing I’ve seen is the relationship that he has with some of the older guys – dealing with (DB) Tramon Williams, dealing with (DB) Joe (Haden) and getting a chance to learn the craft in a little more detail, spending time in the offseason with guys. Those sorts of things help young players. A lot of the time, you try to rely solely on coaching. The really good team rely on each other, as well.

On if Gilbert was more of a ‘loner’ last year:

“Chemistry is organic. It gets built on its own. You can’t force guys to hang out and do things. Over time, you get learn people and learn their habits, and it creates itself.”

On what WR Terrelle Pryor has to prove to earn a roster spot:

“That he can contribute to the team. He has to find a way to demonstrate that he has the skillset necessary to play the role we need him to play. If he can do that and make plays and be productive, he’ll have a chance to make the football team.”

On keeping Pryor as a project player who could potentially contribute but not immediately:

“Those are the great debates for me when you get in the room and it’s like you have this guy who is at level seven today and you have Terrelle Pryor or whoever the other player is at a level six right now, but in time, he might be a nine or 10 – those are the fun debates that you have upstairs. Everything will be taken into consideration – his youth, his speed, his size and his ability and then what his upside is. We think about all of that. “

On if Pryor’s QB skills factor into that evaluation:

“Not at all. He’s here to play a different position. At the end of the day, he’ll make it or break it on that.”

On why he thought Pryor could transition to WR:

“Oddly enough, it was weird as I was talking to the scouts this morning. One of the things I said, an old coach told me this actually, that quarterbacks all have really good hands because they spend their time playing cath. It’s not a product of whether he can catch the ball. The question is: Is he a good enough athlete and does he have the skillset to play receiver? I’ve seen him turn a broken play into a 90-yard touchdown run so I know he has the speed and he has the athleticism. You have to put two and two together and see if he can make the transition. It’s odd, but a lot of guys in the NFL, if you go back to their history, they played quarterback at some point in their career. One of the best guys that I played with, William Thomas, was a quarterback when he was a kid and he ended up playing outside linebacker for the Eagles. Oddly enough, he had a lot of interceptions because he had really good hands.”

On playing Pryor at WR rather than TE:

“I think tight end is semantics. You can go to (Eagles WR) Jordan Mathews in Philly and say he’s a wide receiver, but he never lines up at wide receiver; he plays tight end. It’s the notion of where can the guy have the greatest impact on the game. Football is a game of matchups so the matchup that precludes, that’s the one, hopefully, we’ll take advantage of.

On if it’s a reach to believe Pryor can succeed at WR:

“I don’t think it’s [a reach. The guy has made the NFL as a talent already, granted he played a different position, but he’s demonstrated that he has the athleticism and skill to be in this league. The question now comes: Can he translate that to something else? It’s no different than drafting a kid that played DT or played D-line and you stand him up and make him a linebacker or vice versa. A guy we had when I was in Atlanta, (former Raiders and Falcons DT) Rod Coleman – we got him from Oakland – he came out of ECU as a backer. They moved him to D-end. That didn’t work. Then we moved him to a three-technique; the guy went to the Pro Bowl. It’s just a matter of finding the skillset and matching it with the position he is going to play.”

On strongly considering carrying only two QBs on the 53-man roster if he knew Pryor would be on it, as well:

“All roster decisions, whether it is the number of quarterbacks, number of tight ends, it is it all comes back to you keep the best players, regardless of position. I was talking to the scouts again about roster breakdowns and in generalities, you say ‘Ok, a 40 team is going to keep eight D-linemen and they’re two-deep. If they’re a 30 front, they’re going to keep six D-linemen, maybe plus one; you may have a plus-one at linebacker because the guy is on special teams, etc.’ The Philadelphia Eagles one year kept 12 DBs. Somebody asked, ‘How do you keep 12 DBs?’ You never cut good players. The reality is we’ll keep the best 53 guys for our roster.”

On handling his four-game suspension:

“We have game plan. I don’t really want to get into it now. I think right now is about evaluating the team and seeing where we are at. At the right time, we’ll announce what that plan is.”

On QB Josh McCown:

“I like Josh. I think he’s an A++ person. I think he’s a leader. He can obviously spin the ball. He’s more athletic than a lot of people realize. He took off one time today. I don’t think anybody thought he had the wheels, movement or agility that he actually has. In some respects, I’d say age is just a number because the guy has defied the reality of what he should be able to so, supposedly, at his age. He’s a good quarterback. He can spin the football, make the reads. He’s making throws. I like where he’s at. I like his progression and what he’s going to be able to do for our offense.”

On if the Browns knew McCown was that athletic:

“There are a lot of ways to do evaluations. It’s not just all watching how he played the game on Sunday. There are other pieces of the puzzle that we always add in. I knew he was a better athlete than most people gave him credit for. It’s a product now of him being able to apply both his athletic skills and his quarterback skills to help the offense in the way he should.”

On his cooperation during the NFL investigation affecting his suspension:

“I turned over my cellphone. Again, I made the mistake. I made the admission. It is what it is. I’ll deal with any penalty I got. If they saw fit to be lenient, than that was their call; it wasn’t mine.”

On if he had an hesitancy to turn in his cell phone:

“None at all.”

On if the Browns’ expectations have changed for QB Johnny Manziel since last year:

“I don’t think the expectations change. I think the development is different. You expect more because now you are in Year 2 and you should learn a little something different and appropriate yourself that way. Rookies come in and all rookies are different. Some hit the field and they run, and it is great and then they hit the sophomore wall. Other guys come in and it takes a little bit more to get going and then they take off. Everybody is an individual, but I would say our expectations for Johnny haven’t changed. We still think he is capable of being a good player. He has to put the time, effort and energy to achieve that.”

On if he is satisfied with where Manziel is currently with what’s occurred this past offseason:

“That is a trick question for me. I don’t know if I am ever really satisfied. It is my goal and job to replace guys. You just want to see that the guys are making the strides necessary to attain the goals that you have for them. I do think he has taken some steps that demonstrate that he is serious about the craft. He is serious about getting it all together. His preparation has improved. That will trickle on to the field and his performance on the field and his performance will improve.”

On if believes Manziel could be a starting QB in the NFL:

“Used the right way and doing the right things, I think he can. You just have to make sure that the guy is doing all the things necessary to take the next steps as a quarterback. If he does those things, he has the physical skills to do that.”

On evaluating kickers on the roster but also across the broad scope of the NFL during camp:

“You do. The reality is that is the truth. You canvas the scope of he may be here, he may not be here. Oddly enough, I have been in situations where we have drafted kickers and the guy might have the best kicking percentage in the history of college, and he gets to the team and is terrible. You are like, ‘Wow, what kind of mistakes was that.’ You can’t just rely on the stats. You can’t rely on any one piece of it. It is a puzzle. You give the guy the opportunities, and either he makes the most of them or he doesn’t. Oddly enough I had (Broncos K) Connor Barth when I was in Kansas City. I had (Chargers K) Nick Novak, who is in San Diego. I’ve had a number of guys. We had (former Browns K) Billy Cundiff in camp. We had Billy Cundiff, Nick Novak, Connor Barth and (former NFL K) Jay Feely, and none of them ended up kicking in the season. We ended up with (former NFL K) John Carney. It is a product of you have to find the right guy and then inevitably make the right decision of who is going to be able to kick in your stadium and make kicks. We like these guys. We think that they can kick off, a little bit different – one’s (kickoff) is more of a drive; one’s (kickoffs) is more of a hanger. They both have been accurate so far through camp. You have to make kicks. You have to make field goals and you have to give us the opportunity to cover kicks.”

On his relationship with Head Coach Mike Pettine:

“Great. The guy doesn’t invite you to his summer home if he is mad at your or there is a problem. I think Mike said it best when he said we were both singing from the same hymnal. The reality is that me and Mike and don’t have any issues. I can’t tell you when I have ever been in a knockdown, drag out argument with the man ever. Do we agree on every player? No. Can we sit down and have a conversation? Yes. I like Pett. I think he likes me. There is nothing that we have ever gotten into from my perspective and from him as far as I am concerned that has ever been any major bone in contention. Every decision we have made has been a Browns decision. There are times when he has had his hand in the personnel. There are times when I sit and listen to what the coaches say. It is just the natural flow of what happens when you have these two jobs.”

On what prompted the text message situation last season:

“Again, that was a mistake on my part. End of the day, I made the mistake. The reality is there were no ill-gotten intentions. There were no intentions to gain any advantage. It was just my mistakes. Rules are the rules and because of that I will pay that penalty.”

On how his job changes during training camp and preseason, knowing he’ll miss the first four regular season games:

“I don’t really think it does. The reality is that I have a really good staff. The scouts are here now. I am very confident that they will be able to do the things necessary for those four weeks that I am gone. Beyond that, I believe that you have to prepare the same way. You have to understand who you are. The goal right now is to find out who the Browns are and to keep the best 53 players that we have. In between now and then, it will be the same process. Go through, figure out who is available, who may be on the street and who may get cut. If there is an opportunity to trade or swap guys at the end, you can do those sorts of things, or you can claim a guy at the 75 cut. There will be roster movement. There always is. I don’t think I’ve ever been a member of a team where we didn’t have it. A lot of those decisions are made earlier than most people think. You are just waiting for the ball to drop.”

On if he needs more contingency plans written down if specific players become available:

“No, from every [situation] I have ever been in, even when I first got started in Atlanta, there is no decision that is made in a vacuum. They’re all on the table, they all get talked about and they all get mulled over. The coaches have a say. The scouts have say. I am obviously in the room. We talk about these things and say, ‘What is best for the Browns?’ That is really the only decision that comes up. Is Player A better than Player B’, and do we need to make that swap? It is not just me sitting in the room making those decisions. There is a conversation that happens.”

On what he is going to do with his time the first four weeks of the season:

“That is a good question. I haven’t thought about that. Right now, all I am focused on is how to make the Browns better. Training camp is here and upon us. I just got off vacation. I am not looking for the next one. I love football. It is what I have made my life’s passion and life’s work. I will probably do something that has to do with football.”

On if he will be allowed to scout during that time:

“There are things that are off limits as far as what I can do as far as being associated with the team, the club and the league. If anything, my DirecTV package will blow up.”

On whether or not the team will be able to contact him about personnel decisions:

“Nope.”

On WR Brian Hartline

“I will start with the easy pieces. The guy is a pro. He is professional in everything he does from taking his run test to running his routes to his warm up sessions. He is a pro. If you watch the meticulousness of his detail and his preparation, you’ll see the reason the guy has played in this league and had success. He details his routes and he knows how to stack guys. He does the little things right. I think that is what you need. You need a guy that has size, who can run routes and who catch the football inevitably. He has proven he can all those things so far.”

On where the roster stands this year as compared to the same time last year or to other teams in the division:

“I would tell you I constantly search for ways of how to improve our roster. Are we improved? Slightly. Is there more growth to go? Absolutely. I don’t hide behind the fact that are we where we want to be? No, we are not. Are we on the right track? I would say yes, we are. There are obviously pieces you want to address. I have used the analogies in the past. It is like building a house. You can’t put the curtains up until you have walls. It is just the order in which we are using to address things. I do think we are going to be good on both lines. We are going to focus on controlling the line of scrimmage an then letting our skill show what level they are at. We think our back end is really good on defense, and we think our offense skill is capable, as well. The pieces are in place for us to have success. We just have to go out and demonstrate that we can.”


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