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Browns Head Coach Chris Palmer Press Conference

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            **Q:  You are in the mid part of your second season and have eight different starters from last year, how have you copped with that?**  

P: We started off 2-1 and I thought [Tim] Couch was making tremendous strides, really felt good about him and I thought that addition of [Errict] Rhett was really a help for us. So I thought we were heading in the right direction. Then we had a bunch of injuries offensively where we lost technically four starters and what we had to do now was take a step back and as a coach you have to look at the small victories on the field. You know, the development of Dennis Northcutt and the development of [Aaron] Shea. We brought [Doug] Pederson in when Couch got hurt just before the Pittsburgh game. I think that first game really was not an indication of the type of player that Pederson is and he has grown the last two weeks. We've started to move the ball a little bit better. Those are the small things we are seeing from a coaching standpoint. Our defense is pretty solid. We do a pretty good job. I am very pleased with Courtney Brown. In fact we have more sacks now than we had all last year. I think we had 25 sacks last year and we are up to 27 already. So I think we have made improvements there. Obviously we still have to continue to do things better and work in that direction, but I think the development of the young players is coming along.

Q: You have nice special teams?

P: Our special teams are playing solid. Our punter is probably our MVP right now, Chris Gardocki. He has got 20 punts inside the 20-yard line. He has got a good average of 46.7, with a net of 39.4. So we are very pleased with our kicking game right now.

Q: Marty Moore is kind of an obscure player who just keeps on playing?

P: He is a guy that we are very pleased with. He is a very versatile guy, originally we had him playing behind Wali Rainer in the middle. Then when we lost [Rahim] Abdullah we moved Jamir Miller over to the strong side linebacker and played Moore at the Will linebacker which helped us a great deal and he has played real well the last couple weeks.

Q: You have had good support from your fans haven't you?

P: We have very intelligent fans. I'd say most of them understand the growing process that we are going through. They all want it done overnight, but I think they see us playing hard and making advancement.

Q: When you lose your quarterback to injury, it sets you back for a while?

P: The tough thing was that we really lost both of them. We lost Ty Detmer early in preseason and he wasn't hit by anybody, he just ran and tore up his Achilles. Then when Couch went down, now you are down to your third and your fourth guy. Detmer was fine with it because he said well Couch is going to play all the snaps. Then when Couch got hurt it made it even worse for Detmer because that would have been an opportunity for him to come in. He has been in the system for two years and hopefully we wouldn't have missed a beat.

Q: Bill Belichick says you are a sleeper team, do you see a turnaround in your second half development?

P: I think we are developing the young players. You look at the number of young players that we are playing, each week that they play they'll learn something more about the National Football League. From a coaching standpoint, I see them…like Dennis Northcutt. Before the last two games he wasn't averaging over ten yards a punt. Against Cincinnati he averaged 15 yards a punt and he had one punt returned for twelve yards against the Giants. I think we are making strides, that is just one of the examples. We have to continue that development.

Q: The Patriots don't seem to be making strides, what do you see in them?

P: Well I think Bledsoe is playing very very well. I see him moving in the pocket. They are doing an excellent job of rolling him out and moving. He ran for a touchdown on one of the films that I saw. So I see a guy who really probably is in his prime as far as moving the ball and throwing it very accurately. I have been impressed with him. Troy Brown is a guy that is definitely his go to guy. He has made big play after big play and he does an excellent job on punt returns. Terry Glenn is a guy that you've got to account for. He is a guy that, allow him the ball and can make a big play any time he wants. The guy that I have been impressed with is 81, [Tony] Simmons. I think he has made some big plays for them down the field and keeps getting better. I think with [JR] Redmond, he is going through the same thing with Redmond that I am going through with [Travis] Prentice. It is a young player learning to play in the National Football League. Their offensive line has had some injuries and it looks like they're starting to gel, come around. Defensively, [Willie] McGinest is a factor, [Chris] Slade has been Pro Bowl player and their secondary Lawyer Milloy and Ty Law are excellent players. Again, I think they are a team that…I don't know if their record is an indication of what they really are right now. They've had some things go against them and they have played some good football teams. They very easily could have had things turned around for themselves.

Q: Being with a startup franchise, do you have a better view of how difficult it is to be on top in this league? How tenuous it is to stay on top?

P: It really is. What people don't realize is one or two players can effect your whole team. Look at St. Louis, they lose the running back and they lose the quarterback and they are playing at home where they have been unstoppable and they had difficulties with Carolina. I think there is a very very fine line between winning and losing in this league. When I first got in to the league Bruce Mathews told me, you coaches don't understand how hard it is to win. This being my eleventh year, I understand what he means.

Q: Did you have a preconceived notion of how long it would take to even compete for the playoffs?

P: I thought it would be three to four years. One of the things that people do not give Cleveland credit for is when Jacksonville and Carolina came into the league both of those teams got two first round picks. Cleveland, their extra pick was a seventh rounder. Then the free agency market in 1995, no one knew quite what to expect with free agency. I remember we talked about keeping Kevin Turner. We wanted to pay him X amount of dollars and what happened was it really doubled and we got out of the market for Kevin Turner when it got up to I think $1.4 million. Players like that got away at that time. They no longer get away; they are kept with their teams. The free agency market in 1999 and 2000 is not the same as it was in 1995. I think that has slowed the process a little bit.

Q: Bledsoe's availability is in question. You may see Friesz, does that make it more or less difficult for you?

P: Well you have to prepare for all three quarterbacks. Bledsoe is a guy that has been with the organization for 121 games and he has played 115 of them. So that is an indication of toughness. I know at one time the fans used to think that he wasn't a tough guy. Having been there and coached him, he is a very tough guy. If there is any way he can play, he'll play. But we have to prepare for all three quarterbacks at this particular time.

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