Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski met with the media on Tuesday to talk about the game with Pittsburgh, Jason Campbell, Josh Gordon and more. The usual Wednesday interview sessions happened on Tuesday due to Christmas.
"Players and coaches are back to work today. Our focus is squarely on the Pittsburgh Steelers and finishing the season the season the right way. Pittsburgh is a very good football team. They're in the playoff mix right now. They've played real well since the bye week and had a big win against Green Bay this past weekend. As you look at them from their offensive standpoint, a very versatile offense, explosive, big-play offense. They can attack in you a number of different ways with a number of different people. As always, it starts with (Steelers QB) Ben Roethlisberger and his ability to create plays and a very tough guy to get down and to affect. Outstanding wide receivers: (Steelers WR) Antonio Brown is having a great season; (Steelers WR Jerricho) Cotchery and (Steelers WR Emmanuel) Sanders, as well. Those three guys can do a lot of different things, are extremely dangerous and once they have the ball in their hands as run-after-catch guys, good route runners and very versatile players. Their running back (Steelers RB Le'Veon) Bell has really had a nice year. He's gotten better. I know he's a young player, a rookie who's really improved. (He) runs tough and has been able to get good yards for them in the run game. (Steelers TE) Heath Miller, a solid tight end, as always. Their offensive line has improved and gotten better as the season has gone on and is playing really well.
"Defensively, as we know, an attacking style defense. Everything starts on defense with (Steelers DB) Troy Polamalu. He's still the playmaker that he has been. He made a big play in the Green Bay game and certainly all season long has made those type of plays. You have to account for him. In their front seven, (Steelers LB LaMarr) Woodley, (Steelers DL Brett) Keisel and (Steelers LB Lawrence) Timmons are still there. Those guys, we've been familiar with for a long time, but they do have some new guys who are making an impact. (Steelers DL Steve) McLendon is a guy that catches your eye inside. Their defensive line is playing very well. (Steelers LB) Jarvis Jones of course and (Steelers LB Jason) Worilds on the outside are some young guys that you see a lot from. (Steelers DB) Ike Taylor is still playing solid corner as ever, and (Steelers DB) Ryan Clark in the back end playing well.
"Special teams are very good. Antonio Brown is a big huge of that. That's a big challenge for us to be able to handle him as a returner in our coverage units. They're solid in the punt and kick game and the rest of their special teams. We're looking forward to the challenge.
"Let me go into some injuries here, just to give you an injury update again: As far as practice today, (DL Phil) Taylor, (OL Jason) Pinkston and (TE Jordan) Cameron, they'll all be out of practice today. (DL John) Hughes will be out with a knee sprain, and (DB Joe) Haden will be out with his hip for practice. (LB) Paul Kruger has the flu so he'll be out today as well. He's out today."
On if the Browns have a roster spot to fill after placing WR Davone Bess on reserve/non-football illness:
On if the Browns will fill that position:
"We will. We're working on that right now and should have an answer here shortly on that."
On if the Browns will add a player on the defensive line due to Taylor's and Hughes' status:
"That would be a possible area that we would add."
On if Pittsburgh is playing better than when the teams met in Week 12:
"I think they've been playing, as I mentioned, really good football since the bye. Their first four games they lost, and since then, I believe they're 7-4 and have beaten some very good teams. I think from the looks of it, they've played at a pretty consistent level since our game and are playing real good football right now."
On if Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell fits the mold of a typical Pittsburgh feature back:
"That's what the word has been coming out of Pittsburgh, that he's that type of runner, that type of back, a Pittsburgh-style guy. Again, as the season's gone on, he's gotten more and more involved. He's not just a runner; he's caught a lot of balls for him well so he has some versatility in the passing game, as well."
On getting players mentally and emotionally prepared for the game with the holiday week:
"There's always something to play for anytime you step on the field. Our guys are competitive guys. This is our last game, and we want to finish this thing strong. Every week is a challenge, and that's the way we play."
On a chance QB Alex Tanney will play:
"We'll keep it the way it is. We have the guys that feel like will give us the best chance to win."
On Campbell's comments about him about lingering effects from the New England loss:
"When you lose in some of the disappointing losses that we've had, that takes its toll on guys. The key is bouncing back and having that resiliency and letting that drive you and push you forward. I think that as I look at the games, I think that from a team perspective we've come out strong and played well early in the following games. I think that's a credit to our guys in that ability to bounce back. I talked to them, and those disappointments, getting knocked down and having to get back up and fight, that's one of the toughest things in sports that you have to do. If you can do it and as you continue to do it, you'll get better, you'll grow and that's what our focus is on. Ultimately, to be a winning team and a winning program, that's the thing that we have to be able to do."
On if Campbell pressed or was frustrated as Sunday's game progressed:
"I didn't necessarily see it as the game went on. He said he felt like he may have been pressing, trying to make a play instead of just, like I said the other day, letting the game come to him. That's when he's played his best is in that kind of rhythm."
On WR Josh Gordon's production decreasing recently, particularly early in games:
"I think you get used to the level of production that he was having a few games ago, which is spectacular. I think he still was around 100 yards this last game, had some opportunities. As we talked about, we had some throws that were off, we had some drops in the game. If you make those plays, drives are extended, you get more opportunities and so forth. I think just looking at Josh, we talked about a couple of times trying to do too much; you want to catch the ball before you start running with it or sometimes catch the ball before you look and try to get your feet in bounds; and just getting back to the basics. Those are fundamental things that we can continue to keep working on."
On RB Edwin Baker and him putting together two good performances:
"He has. I thought this past week he played real well. He's given us a lift in the run game. He runs hard, he's decisive, he's been able to make some tough yards and run through some contact. He's been productive for us. I think it's shown and that our running game has improved."
On if OL John Greco has returned at left guard:
"John would be at left guard, yes."
On if Greco's knee has improved:
"Yeah, he's going to practice limited today, and we'll see as the week goes on if he'll be ready."
On if it helps to defeat division rivals, knocking them out of playoff contention:
"Our guys are aware of that. There's a lot of things, as I mentioned, that we're playing for and want to play for. Certainly, that's one of them."
On if Baker is better than expected, considering the Browns signed him from a practice squad:
"You never know. Sometimes it's about timing; sometimes it's about familiarity and opportunity. All of those things, I think, are involved in this. The fact that he was able to come in and play right away was because of his familiarity with the system. Certainly (Browns offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) knowing him and knowing about him and getting him here, giving him the opportunity, it's a good thing for him, and he showed well when he's gotten his opportunity. That's what you want to see guys do. You want to see guys earn an opportunity, and when they get an opportunity, to make to make good on it and continue to grow in that way."
On if Baker's decisiveness comes naturally or can be taught:
"It's both. I haven't watched him a lot prior to him being here so I can't tell you if it was his style or if it was how he's always run in college or what have you. Certainly, that's the way he's running now, and when there's not a lot there, he's still finding a way to get two, three, four yards. When there's some things there, he's getting through the hole quickly and making things happen to extend those runs. Knowing where the first down marker (is), there's a number of times where he's getting himself in position where he can get a first down, and he goes and gets it."
On how C Alex Mack and DB T.J. Ward have played this season and their future with the club:
"Those guys have played at a high level. I love those guys, but we're focused on Pittsburgh right now and in the season. All of those things, we'll talk about when the season is over."
On expecting Campbell to return to the Browns next season:
"Again, I think all of those discussions are after the seasons over."
On if the Browns have heard from Bess:
"Yeah, we're aware of what's going on with Davone. Again, that's personal and private. I'm just not going to get into much there."
On if Bess will play for the Browns again:
"I'm not going to get into any of the situation or any speculation regarding anything."
On if WR Greg Little's role will be limited after last week's performance:
"We've been rolling our guys. (WR Brian) Tyms has gotten more time; (WR Josh) Cooper has obviously gotten more time. We've had four receivers so we need to really kind of roll those guys so all of them are going to play."
On if the Browns planned to play Tyms as much as they did Sunday or if it was a reaction to dropped passes:
"We had wanted to give him an opportunity to show what he can do."