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Transcript from the Paul Kruger press conference

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Transcript from the Paul Kruger press conference Transcript from the Paul Kruger press conference

The first free agent brought in by the new Browns regime met with the media on Wednesday.  Linebacker Paul Kruger, Browns president Joe Banner and coach Rob Chudzinski talked about why the former Raven chose Cleveland.

Here's the transcript from Wednesday's press conference.

Joe Banner

(Opening statement)- "First of all, thank you all for coming. I also want to welcome and introduce Paul's (Kruger) parents, Paul and Jennifer, who are here. We are glad to have them and share this moment. It's a very exciting day for us. It's the first chance we have had to take last year's team and try to improve upon it and we are very excited to have Paul here. We've talked a lot about putting together an aggressive organization with high character people determined to win and be the best they can be and all of the things we have talked about here since the day we arrived. Paul is just a top notch reflection of that. We feel lucky and excited to have him here. We think it's kind of the beginning of improvement from where we ended last year to where we begin this year. It's a great start and I'm proud for it to be the first signing under the new leadership of the organization as well because it's so reflective of what we want it to stand for. With that I'll turn it over to (Rob) Chud (Chudzinski)"

 

Rob Chudzinski

"I'll just echo a lot of what Joe said, I am extremely excited about Paul and Paul being here. We talked early on when I first got the job about wanting an attacking style of defense and to find the personnel that embodies that. I think Paul is the perfect example of that type of player. He's a relentless guy, high motor, a very physical player and plays with a passion that you love to watch and see players play with. Not only the things Paul brings on the field, but the things Paul brings and will bring to our locker room that are so important. Having the success that Paul has had in the playoff run and being a part of that and being a player that guys can look to from a leadership standpoint as well. He brings a lot and we are excited about it. We are excited about the process of continuing to get better and Paul being a big part of that. With that I'll turn it over to Paul."

 

Paul Kruger

"I just want to say thanks to everybody. The organization here has been tremendous. I have only been here a short amount of time and it already feels like home. I'm just really excited. It's been a long process to get to this point and it's just really exciting to finally be here. I am excited to be a Cleveland Brown and be a part of something special. It's been a great experience I have had with the Ravens and I am very blessed to be able to play with that team. I am really hoping to bring a lot of those things that I learned from that organization, that team and those teammates I had and bring those things I learned here. I'm just really excited to get moving and get working."

 

Paul Kruger

(On if it is difficult to leave the Super Bowl champions)- "Yeah, it is. I think the thing that makes it the most hard is those relationships that I built with my teammates and the coaches. It was a really tightly knit group and it was something that was special to be a part of."

 

Paul Kruger

(On his view of the Browns who pushed them last year)- "Just from last year, both the games we played against the Browns were tough games. The first game came down to the very end, right down to the wire. I think it's a strong group of guys. It's been a tough team to face. I think it's a team on the verge of doing some great things."

 

Paul Kruger

(On what happened this year that made him play as well as he did)- "I think it was a combination of just gaining experience in the NFL, being on a great team, being around veteran leaders and developing as a player. Just working hard and finding ways to better my game, being in the right position. I would say it was a combination of things."

 

Paul Kruger

(On the picked the Browns)- "A number of reasons, I would say the biggest was just the excitement that was surrounding this organization. I wanted to come to a team that was excited about me and I was excited about them. It was a mutual thing. I really felt like that was the biggest turning point - just the excitement was there and I felt strongly about being a part of something that I can help and make a team better."

 

Paul Kruger

(On if his familiarity with the AFC North factored into his decision)- "I don't know how big of a point that was. I do think it's going to be a nice thing to stay in the division and be able to face the same teams. It's always nice to be in familiar situations – playing in the same stadiums against the same teams is going to be a nice fit."

 

Paul Kruger

(On if he had a chance to stay with the Ravens or if they told him that they didn't have the cap room to sign him)- "Not for very long, basically. I was pretty aware that I was going to be somewhere else."

 

Paul Kruger

(On if his role in Cleveland will be the same as it was in Baltimore)- "That's something that coach (Chudzinski) and I and coach (Ray) Horton will continue our talks and figure that out. From my understanding, it will be pretty similar."

 

Paul Kruger

(On if it made it easier to leave the Ravens will so many other players not returning to their team and if they will be a different team)- "It's definitely going to be a different group of guys. That's a lot of players and a lot of key guys on the defense to lose. I am sure that there is a plan in place and that's a great organization. I feel like there's always going to be a plan, but that is a lot of good players leaving. I was really surprised when I heard about a lot of those moves."

 

Paul Kruger

(On what the next step of his progression is)- "Just to be an every down player that is really affective and creating a strong force on defense. I remember watching the Browns last year, when we were on offense I would watch, and I was really impressed with the way their d-line played and how aggressive they were. I just think that is the biggest thing I want to change, just being somebody that you can rely on during a whole game. I think I was deemed as a pass rusher only.  I think I will be able to show people that I can be affective on every down."

 

Paul Kruger

(On the media saying he was a good complementary player and if he likes the challenge of coming in here without having a Terrell Suggs on the other side of the defense)- "Leaving Baltimore gives you the opportunity to step out of a couple of shadows that you might have been in while you were there. That is not a negative thing in any way. Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata – those are older brothers to me. They are guys who I text on a daily basis and am very close with. But I definitely see that as an opportunity for me to show that I can do a lot of good things. Regardless of what was talked about on TV, during the game Suggs is on the other side and I'm worried about what's in front of me. I don't read too much into that stuff."

 

Paul Kruger

(On if there is any resentment toward Joe Flacco for what is happening to the Ravens)- "That depends who you are talking to (joking)."

 

Paul Kruger

(On if he can comment on Flacco)- "Joe is a class act. He is a great player. I really don't know what to comment on that. He earned what he is making and he has a bright future."

 

Rob Chudzinski

(On how he will use all of the defensive linemen with the addition of Desmond Bryant)- "We'll get into that a little bit tomorrow with Des. He is going to be available tomorrow. As far as Paul goes, in the 3-4 defense, and I know Tony (Grossi) asked this earlier, he will be one of the outside backers. One of the things Paul really brings to the table is some versatility as well. When you do get into some of the nickel package, sub-package, four-down, he can play defensive end. He also is a move around guy. He can play both sides. Paul's versatility and his ability to play multiple positions was also a major factor in us wanting Paul to be here."

 

Rob Chudzinski

(On where Jabaal Sheard will play)- "Jabaal will one of the outside backers in our base."

 

Rob Chudzinski

(On if he sees Kruger as an every down linebacker that can stop the run as well as get to the quarterback)- "I do."

 

Rob Chudzinski

(On what he saw on film that made him think that)- "We did a comprehensive study and looked at all the snaps for the season and even looked at some of the seasons before. Fortunately, being in San Diego I've had a chance to play against him before. You are familiar with guys around the league and Paul is a physical football player, high motor, high effort football player. He's going to outwork people on the field. Obviously, you know his pass rush ability and his explosiveness there, but you see those abilities in the run game. That's what we are looking for in Paul, is to be able to play and be a three-down player."

 

Paul Kruger

(On what playing with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata did for him)- "I was able to learn a lot from those guys from your work ethic to the type of character those guys. Just the way they handle themselves in the meeting room, during practice – how competitive you are during practice. There are a number of things I really took from them and I had a great experience there."

 

Paul Kruger

(On how his past personal tragedies helped shape who he is today)- "Going through those things was something where I really learned what it means to have a support system. Having parents, family members and friends who truly care and who are there for you. To me, it was a testament that this life can be difficult by yourself and you need those people behind you. I would say it is the same with a team. The more you support each other and you can be there for each other as teammates and as coaches and players together, that's what creates those tight bonds. Going through some of those things I have and surviving a couple near-death experiences has really taught me the importance of first, holding true to your faith and your belief in God, for me. Relying on that and secondly, how important it is to have close family and friends and that support system."

 

Paul Kruger

(On if he can be a leader and how he will approach that as a new player on the team)- "I definitely want to be a leader, but I think that has to come through time. No guy walks into a new locker room and immediately becomes the captain or whatever. You have to earn the respect of your teammates and you have to create bonds. You have to demonstrate that you can be a guy that people can follow and trust you. I don't expect that to happen overnight. I don't expect that to be an easy process, but I think I will be someone that the team can rely on and the defense can look to, to make plays."

 

Joe Banner

(On how the first 24 hours of free agency has gone)- "You go into this with a plan. He was competing with 31 other teams so you don't know what your success rate is going to be, but we feel great about what has happened so far. Frankly, it has gone as well if not better than we were hoping."

 

Joe Banner

(On what is next)- "We're soon to find out (joking)."

 

Joe Banner

(On if he is surprised on how fast so many players have been signing)- "I knew the nature of some of the players we were going after and that they would sign quickly. In that sense, we were either going to get them in the first day or we weren't going to get them. What's a little surprising to me is how many of the kind of next tier all the way down to minimum salary free agents who are already signing. You usually have this kind of churn through the first day with the higher priced better known players then it gradually works its way down. But you are already seeing players all the way down to minimum salary players signing so you have to be ready to move quickly."

 

Joe Banner

(On if they have made a tender to any of their restricted free agents)- "We have tendered two players and agreed to a contract with a third. We can give that to you as soon as we are done."

 

Joe Banner

(On if they tendered Eddie Williams or Chris Ogbonnaya)- "We will hand it out right as soon as we are done here or Neal (Gulkis) can give it you verbally."

 

Joe Banner

(On if they will keep all their interior defensive linemen)- "There are three interior spots and we have six players from those spots who will probably make the team. It's early to know that, we will see how the roster evolves. There's no reason to think we have an abundance at this point. It's a crucial area as we look at the team. We feel good about where we are at numbers wise."

 

Joe Banner

(On possibly bringing Phil Dawson back)- "I am still not going to answer that question."

 

Paul Kruger

(On long it will take for the Browns to turn things around)- "I think if you look at the NFL it's different every year. There are teams who are rising and falling on a yearly basis. You look at the staffs changing and the personnel changing. Just like we talked about with the Ravens, the whole squad is going to be different this year. I think you can be competitive immediately. It's just a matter of the right guys being in place and everybody having the same mindset."

 

Paul Kruger

(On similarities between the Browns and Ravens and what Ray Horton brings to the defense)- "I think mainly just the style of play in what I have seen from his past at Arizona and some of the team's he has coached for. It just seems that he has a really attacking style, aggressive defense. I think that is exactly what I have seen in Baltimore be successful. I am really excited about it."

 

Joe Banner

(On why he won't address if he is in talks with Phil Dawson)- "I think once that situation finalizes itself I will answer that question. I think and hope you understand why we haven't answered it so far."

 

Joe Banner

(On if Kruger was on his radar years ago)- "I don't think there is anybody in the league that hasn't noticed in the time that he has played Paul has been an extremely productive player. Obviously the numbers of plays have increased as the years have gone on, but even when he was playing a small percentage of plays he was still extremely affective in those plays. I think anyone playing against him or observing has been noticing him. Finally this year he got up to I think it was 69% play-time and you saw the type of production when he became really a fulltime player and what that lead to."

 

Joe Banner

(On if they will add a corner backer in free agency)- "I think we are going to look at where we feel there are opportunities for quality players. Again, as part of the long term plan to fill spots will quality players who we think can be a part of building, eventually, a championship team, as opposed to stopgap measures. I think if situations present its self at any positions that are included, we are open to keep moving forward."

 

Joe Banner

(On if they were looking for younger player in free agency who may have not hit their peak in the NFL)- "Again, in terms of building a sustainable successful team, we want players that we think are at a point where they are playing very well and likely to sustain that level of play of an extended period of time. It's not an absolute criteria, but it certainly is one of the things we are looking at and trying to keep our eye one."

 

Rob Chudzinski

(On how the team is different now than two weeks ago)- "Obviously we've added a few guys and addressed some areas that are important to us. If you look at the line and up front and in this case the front seven, it's a key area. You look year in and year out, the teams that have the guys up front to be able to play and sustain injuries during the course of the season and be productive and in this case get after the quarterback on defense, it's a critical area. That's one of the key things we wanted to address and we have a long ways to go. We have a lot of things to do and a lot of things to accomplish yet. Obviously, we are real happy with Paul and the other guys we have been able to bring."

 

Joe Banner

(On if Kruger has to become a dominate every down linebacker for this to be a first step or if he needs to become a dominate pass rusher)- "I would probably choose neither of the above. If Paul comes as we anticipate and he's an important part of a successful defense, the responsibilities of that will depend upon how we use him. (If he) plays at the level he has been playing, frankly, and is productive as he has been, I think that will help move the ball forward quite a bit."

 

Paul Kruger

(On how much the gap has closed between the Browns and Ravens)- "I think time will tell. That is something that you develop over the period of the offseason. I think we are going to have time to figure a lot of that out. Going into the preseason and those first couple regular season games, it's going to be a reflection of how you've prepared and what you've been able to put together during training camp. I think we have a great opportunity to start something really special this year. I think it's just a matter of us putting it all together and making it happen."

 

Joe Banner

(On if they have agreed to terms with Gary Barnidge)- "Yes, we have."

 

Rob Chudzinski

(On Barnidge)- "I am obviously familiar with Gary. He is a younger player, he has had some injuries in the past. Last year, he really had the opportunity to step up and we really saw improvement in him. He's a versatile guy who I am excited about."

 

Rob Chudzinski

(On if Barnidge is a pass catcher or a blocker)- "He does both."

 

Rob Chudzinski

(On what Barnidge is versatile in)- "He is versatile in the pass game and the run game, both."

 

Rob Chudzinski

(On if Barnidge is the new Alex Smith)- "I don't know if I can make that comparison, necessarily."

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