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Wednesday transcripts


Opening comments:
"As we look forward to the Browns, as they began the season you could tell that the revisions, the changes -- the things they set up to do in the offseason -- were coming to life. You saw them unfolding. I think they have played some good football. In two of their games, they made some critical errors. They had the lead in all three of their  games in the fourth quarter and haven't been able to make some plays to finish things out.

"They ran the ball very effectively last week. They have made, I want to say three or four passes over 40 yards, and three or four runs over 20. So they have made a considerable amount of explosive plays, where we have had, I think, one, in comparison. That's five or six to one. You look at those things, you see they are having some production with the things that they are doing. On special teams, they have a guy who might be the best returner in the National Football League at this time in Joshua Cribbs. We know it is going to be a physical football game, and a game where we have to play error-free football and continue to play better than we played the week before."

Would take some comfort in way your kickoffs and punts have gone lately, as you get ready to face a guy Cribbs?
"You have to keep working at it. What you did last week, it doesn't count for much. It's what you do at the current time. So, it's what happens on Sunday and how we execute Sunday that is going to be important."

Does (Seneca) Wallace, compared to (Jake) Delhomme, change the offensive dynamic?
"Both guys are somewhat new to Cleveland. Obviously with some of the things they have changed, I think Seneca might be a little more comfortable than Jake was. Because you see some of the West Coast principles."

How would you categorize fan and media reaction to what happened offensively on Sunday?
"I think people get expectations, built on newspaper and paper -- you know, built on this stuff (holds up piece of paper and smiles). But you don't play football on that stuff. You play football by going out and executing. That (expectations) are part of it, though. There is a perceived expectation of things. That's great, but you have to go out and you have to execute. What lines up on paper doesn't win football games. It hasn't won a football game in the National Football League ever. It certainly hasn't won a championship.

"It's no surprise to me where we are. We have guys who are here for the first time with us, that is part of it. We just have to keep playing, getting better, doing things the way they are coached. We have to go from the meeting room to the practice field to the game and on the tape. I think we had a similar situation last year at the start of the year, defensively that way. As time went on, guys just kind of round into the things they are doing and get better and better and better. Right now we are probably a little in that position on offense. I don't want to slip back into that position on special teams. Let's just keep getting better and better and better.

"The good part about it, the fun part for me is, I would rather be sitting here thinking that way than the other way. I kind of like where we are. It keeps me doing what I need to do, and that is keeping my foot on the back of somebody's head. That makes things more comfortable for me. I don't like the other way, when you are blowing smoke up their butts. This is a much better thing for me to do and deal with."

Anything that can be done for or to the offense to help Carson?
"Guys doing their jobs better and better. That would help Carson."

Nothing beyond that, not simplifying it, not changing up play-calling?
"Every time you call a play, it is designed to gain at least a first down, if it's not designed to be a touchdown. I don't think (any changes) are going to change those things. The execution of those things time after time after time is what makes you better. Time on task makes you better all the way through. Each time you go out there, you face different looks, different styles, different defenses. That's the challenge of it; that is the fun of it. That is why guys play the game. That is why we do what we do."

Willie Anderson (who was in the locker room) said he's not interested in playing again, but is the organization interested in him in any other capacity?
"I think it's good that Willie came into town for some business and stopped in last night. I think he saw what real coaching is like, and I think he went off somewhere else. (laughs). It's good to have him. Obviously Willie is held in very, very high regard with Mike (Brown) and the rest of the family and the Bengals organization.

"He asked if it would be all right to come out and visit with the guys a little bit, and he's got some real observations since he has taken a step back from football. I think that's going to be helpful, particularly to young players. He has a mission down the road to help young people and young athletes back in his hometown and in Atlanta. Hopefully it spreads. He kind of has a plan for what he wants to do. He wants to be helpful. He wants to be a resource for these young athletes."

You think even if he doesn't get into coaching full time, he'd be a good candidate for the (training camp coaching) internship?
"I think if he decided this is what he wanted to do, he would be an outstanding candidate and would be one of the first guys I would look to anytime to bring on that way. Willie was a very, very smart football player and he helped other guys be better. That's what as a coach you are looking for."

You're way too busy to worry about the Reds, but what did you think about what they did (clinching the division last night)?
"I think it's great for the city. The city has always been a town that loves Reds baseball. I think you look at Opening Day and you go all the way through, and you look at the things that people were writing in May, when they were starting to turn and be down on the Reds, and now you look where they are, that's a great thing. I am very happy for (manager) Dusty (Baker), I am very happy for (owner) Bob Castellini, the rest of his family, the Williams family (minority owners) and so forth, and all the people that are involved in the Reds management. I have a chance on occasion to talk to Dusty and it's just great. Because that is all Dusty ever talked about, was getting better fundamentally."

Good lesson for your guys as far as fundamentals?
"I already talked about that this morning. I took them all the way through it. I took many of Dusty and my conversations about things. It's amazing, the simplicity of sports and what wins and what makes you average. What makes you consistent and have an opportunity to win."

CARSON PALMEROn playing in Cleveland:
"It's a tough place to play, because their crowd is always involved no matter what their record is or what the score is of the game. So we're going to have our hands full. And offensively, they're scoring some points, too. On a good Baltimore team, they ran the ball very effectively last week. You can't get suckered into the whole 0-3 thing. It's a big game for us, it's an even bigger game for them, trying to get their first win. But it's a division game for us and we can stay undefeated in the division and go one-up on our division rivalry and in-state rivalry if we get this win."

On concerns about the offense:
"We as a unit just want to go out and score more points. I wouldn't say concern is the word. I'd say anticipation. We're all so excited just to get to game day now. You've got three long days of work, and we just want to go out and have another crack at it, have another opportunity. I would say anticipation is more the word, that we're just waiting and working to get to game day because we're excited to go out and play again and do some things differently and score points."

On what's holding back the offense:
"There are a number of things. Penalties have been an issue in some games and not an issue in others. There have been a handful of things that slow you down, but I think the biggest thing is always penalties. When you get in situations where it's first-and -long, second-and-long, it makes third down really tough, and we've definitely struggled on third down the last couple weeks. And third down's what keeps you on the field. So if we can eliminate penalties and not beat ourselves in that way, then that will help out tremendously."

On the fans being frustrated despite the wins:
"This is my eighth year, and it's tough to get a win. I know how difficult it is and how so many things have to work out in order to get a win. So it is difficult to get one win in this game, but I think we're just as unsatisfied as players as maybe fans may be, because we want to go out and score points. We want to see Chad's end zone dances and see what Terrell does and get Ced (Benson) the ball and have him run for 120 yards on average. And when you don't do that, you just want another opportunity to go out and do it next week and prove people wrong. Like Marvin said, it's tough to make excuses when you win, but at the end of the day when you look back, your record's the only thing that matters and not the margin of victory or anything like that."

On if anything can be changed in the offense:
"Just execution. I think in any offense and on any team's offense, the thing that slows you down is execution. It's so important. It's just as important on defense to have 11 guys executing. When you have 10 guys do it perfect and one guy do it just a little bit off, it's an unexecuted play. We don't need to rewrite the playbook or we don't need to change what we're doing or anything like that. What we're doing can work when we execute it. We've had a series where we've had great execution and then a little bit off here, a little bit off there. And I think the bottom line is out-executing the defense and that's something we need to do consistently."

On the difference between Benson and Bernard Scott:
"They're actually pretty similar style backs. It's weird because Ced is probably 25-30 pounds heavier, but they're both very fast, very quick. They're both difficult to bring down with arm tackles. I think Bernard has a little more wiggle to him, a little more shake to him in the hole, and Ced's got more power. But it's weird because they are built so differently, they have very similar running styles and they can do a lot of the same things.

"But Coach is right (on limiting Benson's carries) and Ced knows it. Ced wants the ball every time every game, but at the end of the day he wants to be able to play in 16 games and it's difficult to do that when you carry the ball 25-plus times every single game. Brian Leonard's the other guy, too, that can spell him and take a little bit of the pressure off him on third down and in one-minute situations. Keeping Cedric healthy is one of our biggest concerns offensively."

On the difference between himself on tape in the Dallas game two years ago (before he went down for the season) and last week:
"I mean two years ago, I haven't looked at myself in that Dallas game since that week after that Dallas game. So it's difficult to say. But we're running a different offense. We're running a lot of things that are completely different. Our running game's completely different, personnel's completely different other than one guy, maybe two guys. So yeah, there's definitely a big difference in two years."

On if his changed footwork has affected his mechanics:
"No. I think it's helped me out in some instances, just trying to be in the right place in the pocket and set up in the right spot in the pocket. The things I did footwork-wise was to give me enough room between both tackles and center in the pocket, really just changing your set-up point in the pocket."

On if anything performance-wise from last week stands out:
"I think we were fortunate to win the game. I expect more out of myself and I expect to play better, and I need to play better throughout the rest of the season. But you know, like we said before, a win is a win. But at the same time we want to be perfect on offense. I want to be perfect. I want to score more points. We want to score more points, and we're going to need to as the season continues, and I'm going to keep working. The only way I know to perform better as an offense or individually is to work. That's all I've done since I started playing football when I was seven, eight, nine, 10 years old. So I'm going to continue to work, continue to improve. The guys around me, and as a team, we're going to continue to work. That's the only thing I know how to do."

On the differences in route-running between Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley vs. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco:
"Everybody runs different routes. The tight end obviously runs different routes than the strong side receiver, the weak side receiver, the running back obviously. But I think there's instances where we haven't hooked up on plays that we should have with those guys. So in no way is anything set in stone or great with the way we're working with our inside receivers compared to our outside receivers. We all need to continue to work. I need to continue getting better with the two rookies and Terrell, and also Chad and I need to keep growing."

On if receivers are in the wrong spots:
"Well, there's new guys. The only guy that's back really is Chad, and Andre (Caldwell) really hasn't played much at all, so that's part of the deal. That's going to happen, especially when two of the new guys are rookies and it's their first time, their first three games of the season. They're going to make mistakes just like anybody. That's part of the growing pains of having rookies that are starters and having new guys on your team that haven't been here before."

On the Reds clinching their division last night:
"I'm excited. I don't have time to be a big baseball fan, but hopefully I'll get a chance to watch them play as the postseason starts. But it's exciting for the fans, exciting for the team. It's kind of a team that I don't think anybody really expected to be here. You hoped for it and you want it, but it's just exciting when a team gets to that point that they're not predicted to get to that point. It makes it that much more fun being a fan of it."


On some fans apparently not being totally happy with last week's win:
"They're a part of it, but the outside doesn't really matter. Anybody that plays in this league, from players and coaches, even some of the commentators that have played this game before, know that wins are hard to come by, and at some point whether you win ugly or not, those games can be very important. They can be significant toward the end of the year depending on a playoff race, so it (winning ugly) really doesn't matter.

"Obviously, I think with the expectations of what we have in this locker room, especially with the addition of myself, and with Chad doing some great things here for this organization, with all the hoopla and expectations and the Batman and Robin stuff, the capabilities of what we have, obviously it is disappointing. We're constantly kicking field goals and things of that nature. We're not moving the ball up and down as we expected, but a win is a win, and that's the most important thing at the end of the day."

On concern that the offense hasn't made many big plays:
"There's not a sense of panic or anything right now, but you want to try to establish some kind of identity, chemistry, and flow of what we have offensively. As of right now, we haven't done that. I don't think it's a situation where it's just going to click. This is something, for myself, where you definitely want to be on the same page with the quarterback offensively. Guys want to be able to run the ball at will. We want to be able to pass the ball at will at any given time. We know we're not functioning as we should on the offensive side of the ball.

"We definitely have to give a lot of credit to the defense, since they've put us in some situations where we move the ball enough to put Mike in some situations to kick some field goals. Obviously, as an offense, you want to put six points on the board. Obviously, we're struggling to do that. It's something you have to take pride in, and for myself, I'm not comfortable with where we are offensively. We just have to keep continuing to practice hard, and if we can continue to do that, it'll pay off at some point. There's definitely not a sense of panic at this point, but it's frustrating not to be able to do the things that we need to do from a passing standpoint."

On how open he was on the long route where Carson Palmer was hit as he released it (resulting in an interception):
"I was open. I've been open on a number of routes, and for whatever reason, there's always been some kind of breakdown with protection, or Carson has to come out of the pocket, or he's rushed. It's one of those things where it's frustrating for myself, but I've got to keep plugging away. I'm not going to gripe. The most important thing, as I've alluded to here, is we're winning. If we were losing, then I would definitely have a lot to say, but the most important thing is the W."

On the frequency of being double-covered:
"I think Chad and I have been doubled quite a bit, and if it's not a true double, then they've played a lot of Cover 2 to take us out of the passing game. I think teams realize that we are a threat out there, and that's where the running game is going to have to come into play. The guys in the slot, you think about (Jordan) Shipley, (Jermaine) Gresham has been solid so far, and that's where we'll have to be able to pick up some yards. Once those things start happening, when there are some opportunities where we get some one-on-one matchups, that's where Carson has to be able to put us in the right position for us to make some plays."

More on getting in sync with Carson Palmer:
"It's one of those things where there have been plays where a lot of people have been open, and for whatever reason, the plays where I've been open there's been some kind of breakdown. But I can't really control any of that. I just have to go out there and do what I'm supposed to do, and make myself available. That's about all I can do. I really can't control anything else outside of that. I feel like I have the offense down. There have been a couple of mistakes made, but other than that, not where it's made a big difference, but I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do."

On the Battle of Ohio:
"I've been in so many different rivalries, it doesn't matter with me. It's a game. Obviously, what comes with a rivalry is a lot of trash talk, the intensity picks up, there's a lot of hoopla around the game. I don't really focus on that. I've been in San Francisco where we played Dallas as a rivalry. I've been in Dallas where we played the Eagles as a rivalry. Those things don't factor into how I prepare. Each week is a different week. I just try to go out there and prepare as I do every week and try to get a win, do whatever I can to help the team win."

The following are conference calls with Browns head coach Eric Mangini and receiver/returner Joshua Cribbs and the Cincinnati media.

ERIC MANGINIOn becoming more of a team after the Baltimore game:
"I think that over the course of last year and moving into this year, we've made a lot of progress. At the end of last year, we understood how we had to play and wanted to play in terms of team, each phase helping the other. With any transition and change, there's discomfort and we got through it. Coming into this year, we brought more good people into the locker room, and the guys who were here last year helped them move along. There's a sense and determination to get the things fixed that we needed fixed."

On being competitive even though you're 0-3:
"Sometimes that's the hump you have to get over, to finish the close games and win the close games. It's a little bit of a skill set I feel like we're getting closer to, but we have to move over that hump and get over it quickly."

On whether Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace plays this week:
"I'm anticipating Jake practices tomorrow to some degree, maybe Friday. But with any injury, you hate to say that because it can change. But he's done a lot of what he could to get back. We look to get him on the field."

On (running back) Peyton Hillis:
"I was one of the people who saw his potential up close, and he had a great game. He's got elusive speed, he's physical, and has good hands out of the backfield. When we had the opportunity to trade for him, I thought he would be an outstanding addition. He's got excellent size. He's had chances in the early part of the season and last week he took advantage of it. He really maximized it."

On (running back) Jerome Harrison figuring into the mix:
"We really always have approached it that way. I have confidence in both guys, regardless of which one is running the ball. Jerome will have a good week of practice and we'll have both ready to play."

On Eric Wright bouncing back from last week:
"Eric Wright has played a lot of good games for us. There are days on which you have an off day, and if it corresponds to when a really good player is having a really good day, it's not going to be good for you. Anquan Boldin has beaten a lot of people on their best days. I thought (Joe) Flacco was having a good day, too. I have confidence in Eric that he will bounce back and he's that type of guy."

On the Bengals offense:
"They have a lot of things they do well. They incorporate shifting and motions. Carson Palmer can make every throw and recognize what defenses you're in. You have all the receivers who can do positive things. Chad (Ochocinco) is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Terrell (Owens), I've faced him enough to appreciate his skills. The other thing they do well is run the ball whether it's Cedric Benson or Bernard Scott. That helps set up the passing game even more."

On if you notice anything different with Carson Palmer:
"I haven't noticed any drop-off with him. I think he's outstanding. He has poise; he can hurt you with his arm. As we saw last year, he can hurt you with his feet. He can buy some time in the pocket, and slide away and get guys open. His experience has created some plays with the offense. He's talented, experienced."

On the Bengals defense?
"They've got a lot of options in terms of pass rush. I really enjoying watching Domata (Peko) play. I think he has a tremendous motor. Tank Johnson is playing really well. Then on the outside between (Robert) Geathers, Michael Johnson, (Antwan) Odom, (Frostee) Rucker, and throw Geno Atkins and the pressure packages in the mix, there's a lot of different ways they can get to the quarterback. You saw two weeks ago how that pressure affected Flacco. It put him in position where he had to throw. In terms of the run game, you've got Dhani (Jones), Rey (Maualuga), Keith (Rivers), they're good linebackers and they play well together. Leon Hall is a good run support corner. I think Johnathan (Joseph) does a nice job there. With Chris (Crocker) and Roy (Williams), they've got a good group that can work together. They've got flexibility to bring other people in."

On WR/KR Joshua Cribbs:
"He hasn't gotten the volume of returns that he's had last year. They've been pop kicks, or we've faced some strong-legged kickers who've kicked it out of the end zone. On his development as a receiver, I felt last year he could do it and do it well. He's developed there and will continue to. The nice thing is he's not a gadget player, he's a legitimate player. You can do things with him that other players can't do, but he can run the regular offense and do it well."

On losing the first three games after finishing with four straight wins last year:
"I learned a long time ago with (Bill) Parcells that you can't look back at what happened last year and expect the same things to happen. What you have to do is learn from the previous year, apply those things to the next year and fix mistakes. You start at the same place, and the value of that experience is applying it to what you're currently doing. There are a lot of things we learned on how to play and now it's a function of going out and playing that way. It takes time, consistent decisions, and being honest into what your shortcomings are and getting them fixed."

What's it been like working for Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert?
"I've enjoyed working with both. Neither guy I knew that well initially. One of benefits is that it's three different ideas, talk and get to best system for us. Having Mike in the building has been a big plus for me, because there are a lot of things that come up that I don't have the answer to. There's no manual in how to be head coach. You can go down and talk to Mike about the problem and he has the benefit of experience. When we talk there's no translator needed. It's been a positive for me and him."

JOSHUA CRIBBSOn how he's feeling after spraining his ankle last game:
"I'm feeling great. It was all precautionary. They wanted to take the pressure off of it. I was just talking to my trainer, so everything's good on that end."

On being more integrated in the offense this year:
"A lot of guys are looking for the Wildcat and everything like that, so they're going to be studied up on (it). We know a lot of teams have been practicing for us, so we've been using me basically for a decoy and straight wide receiver. The more I'm in a game, the more they have to be ready for it and be on their toes. We can call it on any play."

On if being a viable wide receiver was a goal, as opposed to just being used for gadget plays:
"Definitely. I feel like any receiver can be a man if their coaches believe in them that they are the man. We all have talent, obviously, and I had a lot to prove, that I could catch the ball and make plays. A lot of people doubted me as a receiver, and now the same people are giving me props and heads up. The more you can do for your team shows how valuable you are to them."

On the return game being held in check so far:
"We've got a lot of young guys. When you see our stats from last year around this time, it was pretty small as well. We always have slow starts. Teams are going to kick away from you and they tend to get comfortable when you're not returning. Then we light them up in the return game. I'm going to just keep it quiet until teams get used to me not doing what I'm usually doing, and then we'll light them up. We usually catch fire around this time of the season anyway."

On if he's chomping at the bit to get a huge return:
"No, it's going to come. I've been playing six years. I've had a return every year. It will come, and I'm going to let it come to me. The guys are very great at blocking and getting on their assignments, and they really want to see me succeed as much as I want to see them succeed. I'm not worried about it at all. I really do want it to take off, so we can give our team opportunities to win, but it will come. I'm not going to stress it."

On whether not having a return TD against the Bengals is something he keeps in mind:
"No, they're a very good football team. It's part of that skill position. It's not really that I want say, 'Oh, I have a return against them,'  like I'm just the almighty in the returns. I can't guarantee anything, but I have put up decent numbers against them in returns for my career. But still they're a very talented group of guys and they'll be gunning for me just like everybody else."

On developing his role in the offense last season:
"Yeah, it became evident last season that they wanted me to be on the field more, to be more than just a gadget guy. I had to expand this Wildcat thing so that not every time I'm on the field, the defense said, '16 is in the game!", every time we were running some type of Wildcat or gadget play. So now when I'm in the game, you're not hearing people call my number because we're just running a regular play. It's been evident last year and this year that I've been working on my skills at wide receiver."

On if he had played wide receiver before:
"Negative. I used to always say I had so much wind until I played wide receiver. There's so much running. Now I'm confident, staying in shape and running extra laps and extra cross-fields to keep up with the guys running. Because you need a lot of wind, a lot of conditioning, to play wide receiver, and that's something I really had to adjust to."

On the difference between running as a receiver and on returns:
"Kickoff return, punt return - it's one play. It's like you get the most you can out of that one play. Every special teams play, you get the most yards you can out of that one play. That's pretty much what it is. For this one play you've got to ball out and use your skills as much as you can. You only get this opportunity. No other opportunity is like it. Twenty plays later or 10 plays later – you never know when it's going to come. It's a burst of energy and I waste all my energy for that play. Sometimes I'm coming out of the game just for that one play. That's why I believe I'm able to succeed a lot on special teams, because I use almost all my energy for that one play."

On the Battle of Ohio:
"We want to win the game. We want to win every game. We don't look at it as this big rivalry. We look at it as the next game on our schedule. It's a division opponent – we have to win this game. And I'd be remiss if tell you that you especially want to win this one because it's (the Battle of) Ohio. We want to win all the games. We're up for this game just like we're up for any other game."

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