Are you excited to have ham tomorrow?
"I am. It was a big thing last year when I said I liked ham."
It was a pretty big deal…
"Yeah. I'm excited for the whole Thanksgiving meal."
Are your parents in town?
"No, just my family here. And some of the guys from the team come over. It's a nice relaxing thanksgiving."
With the Cleveland Browns coming to town this weekend, is it helpful to have their former coach, Hue Jackson, on your coaching staff?
"Yeah. He obviously knows them well. He knows what they've done, and he can give us some insights on some stuff. For us, we're trying to handle it the same way, see what they do on tape and go from there."
There's a rumor going around A.J. Green will be back this week. How much have you missed having him out there?
"We want him out there all the time. It would be nice to get him back, but we'll see how it goes. I'll definitely welcome him back pretty easily (laughs)."
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor noted the other day how receivers are getting grabbed a lot by opposing defenders. As a quarterback, how do you handle that?
"You still just have to put it (the ball) on them. They may not have as much speed out of breaks and those different things because of it. You have to know where to put it. I don't want to say you can anticipate it, but you can see where the DB is, where route is going and throw it accordingly. You have to trust they (WRs) are going to win and run through the grab."
Are those things, where your receivers are getting grabbed, even more frustrating when you go back and watch it on film? Particularly if it's a play that may not have gone right...
"Yeah, for sure. There 's specifically one in Atlanta where he took his jersey off and they didn't call it. It's really frustrating. You see the grab at the end of the game last week and it didn't get called. We have to expect it's not going to get called. For us, we just have to go out there and, regardless of what happens, and we have to make the play."
Do you have to hold the ball longer to wait and see if the receiver is going to break out of a grab? Does it affect timing?
"No. You still have to play on time. You can usually tell when there's going to be contact and when there's going to be something, and you can throw the ball accordingly to that. They may not be as far out of their break as they would've been if they didn't get grabbed, but you just have to trust what you see out there and put it in the spot you think he's going to be at."
The Browns defense has a lot of passes defensed this season. Are they a "handsy" group, in terms of coverage?
"They've done a good job. It definitely shows up on tape. It's just about being accurate with the ball, finding windows, changing arm angles and different things up front if they're going to get their hands up."
Do they grab guys on routes? Are they in that category?
"It's probably not what they're known for, but it happens at times."
Does that affect or change how you do things at practice?
"No, it doesn't change anything."
The Browns' defense causes a lot of turnovers. Does head coach Greg Williams, who's also their defensive coordinator, change his looks as much as Baltimore did?
"He's got a unique way of playing. It's different than the way other teams play, with just the style they play and how they line up and different things. You have to be ready for the different looks that they give, because it's just not a standard look out there. That's the challenge for us this week, is getting used to the new look of their defense."
Initial comments …
"In looking forward in preparation this weekend, the thing with the Browns' football team is that you see the people that have been added over this offseason and what they've been doing. Even the games they didn't win were very close, including early in the season with the overtime games. It's a team that's been playing hard for 60 minutes each and every weekend. With the switch to Baker Mayfield at quarterback, he's played very poised and he delivers accurate throws when he leaves the pocket. He seems very composed — it's impressive. The running back, (Nick) Chubb, has gotten hot and is doing good things. Duke Johnson provides a threat when he comes into the football game. The tight ends can run and catch, and at wide receiver they have a proven guy there in Jarvis Landry. It's well-put together. Their young guy, (Antonio) Callaway, is also playing well on offense.
Defensively, they're very explosive. Myles Garrett is doing what I think people expected him to do when he came into the NFL. The rest of the group up front is strong and impressive physically, and they're explosive off blocks. They're maturing into a good team."
Where can Hue Jackson help you the most this week?
"This game is about the Browns. I think I've answered enough Hue questions, OK? We're done. You asked me Hue questions on Monday; we're good. Let's get to the Cleveland Browns. So, anything else on the Browns?"
It's been the year of the quarterback in the NFL. When you look at Baker Mayfield, what does he bring to that position?
"He has played poised. From what I saw from my time with him in Indianapolis (at the NFL Combine), or in Norman (at Oklahoma's pro day), the guy is kind of polarizing and his teammates like him. You see that in their play when you see them on TV. His teammates like him, so I think he has great qualities for a great leader."
Defensively, you always start with stopping the run. Particularly with the way they're running the ball, and you mentioned Browns RB Nick Chubb, is slowing them down that way where it has to start this week?
"We have to do a better job. We haven't done a great job this season, so we have to do a great job of playing gap responsibility and being sound in tackling. This is a strong runner who has a strong lower body and is really well-put together. If you think about it, for Georgia to have two guys (Chubb and New England Patriots RB Sony Michel) like that on their team is impressive."
It's been a season-long trend for you guys to try and stop the run. What can you do, or where do you begin?
"I think I answered that — we have to stay gap-sound, and we have to tackle."
With WR A.J. Green's injury, was there a risk of making it worse if he came back too soon?
"It's just irritation and his ability to extend. He'll be extending this week."
Does that mean he'll be playing this week?
"I didn't say he was going to play, I said he was going to be extending (laughs)."
Was there ever a concern that there was a risk of reinjuring it or making it worse?
"Any time a guy goes out there, there's a risk of more (injury). A.J. has worked hard and is ready to get back to work. Hopefully we'll get work in the rest of this week. We're going to hold him (from practice) today, so everyone can relax (laughs)."
So don't be on A.J. Green watch?
"You don't need to be on A.J. Green watch. I'll give you the scoop there (laughs)."
So you do expect him to practice sometime this week?
"I do expect him to practice the rest of this week."
Would he go on Sunday then?
"If he feels good enough to go and we judge him good to go by our eyes, he'll be good to go."
How about LB Nick Vigil?
"Nick is getting close — he may get some practice in this week as well."
What kind of a lift could he bring? Obviously the linebackers have had a lot of injuries …
"Not only his football-playing ability and his linebacker-playing ability, but what I thought Nick had taken such a huge step forward in is instinctively, communicatively and running the defense. He was doing very, very well at that. You can't have enough smart guys on the field, particularly when they can make plays."
LB Preston Brown didn't miss a game in Buffalo in four years, and then he comes here where he's never really been healthy the entire season. Is that one of those things where you say that is just frustrating?
"It's unfortunate for him. He's such a good young man and a good young player. With the ankle injury he had in Week 1, he was just never able to completely recover. He missed the two games, and then came back and re-injured it. At some point, he'll get that addressed. The knee (injury) he had was going to take a while, but he'll be able to get the ankle addressed now and get himself ready for 2019."
It sounds like he really playing through a lot...
"He was playing through a lot. On Wednesdays, it wasn't pretty (laughs). But he would get going as the week went on. He was starting to get used to it. But this thing with the knee is another setback."
Does he need both fixed?
"No. He may just have the ankle looked at further."
He stayed in to finish the game after the injury, right?
That probably says something about him …
If he had injured his knee at the beginning of the season, would he have been able to come back?
So he went on Reserve/Injured just because there's only six weeks left in the season now?
"Yes. His knee is probably a little bit more. It's the year we're having these (knee) injuries, whether it's the injuries from Davontae (Harris) or to Nick (Vigil). We've had a couple more minor ones, but Davontae's, Preston's and Nick's have been on the longer side of those."
Taking care of the ball on the road in Baltimore is a big factor as to why you were able to stay in that football game. When you look at Cleveland, they have 25 takeaways, so you know they're good at turning other teams over...
"They were on fire to begin the season. That was key to keeping them in games and their opportunity to win games. I mentioned that to the squad this morning."