Kansas City, Missouri 2021-01-14 16:58:46 –
Cleveland (AP) — Browns coach Kevin Stefanski isn’t planning a trip to the basement right away.
“These walls were approaching me,” he said.
Stefanski returned to the team’s facility on Thursday, ten days after his first-year coach tested positive for the virus, after Cleveland did not beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs on Sunday.
Instead of standing by in Heinz Field, Stefanski was 135 miles away from his home in Ohio. When Browns led 28-0 and won 48-37, he was nervous in front of the television. Cleveland’s first victory. In the postseason 26 years later.
Stefanski will make his playoff debut this week with the Browns playing against Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
“That’s great. He deserves to come back,” said Mike Prifer, a special team coordinator who acted as the Steelers coach. “Whenever your leader comes back to the building and leads us to the fight this weekend, it’s great for our football team.”
There’s a lot to do, but Stefanski took some time to taste the company of his team and staff. He missed everything.
“At the professional level, being around coaches and players and leaving the family is not fun,” he said with a smile. “I need to mention that.”
Stefanski will be his first season in the Browns after spending 13 years as an assistant in Minnesota. The stability of the 38-year-old helps the team maneuver to avoid many problems related to pandemics and injuries.
“He didn’t panic at any point on our journey this season,” said linebacker BJ Goodson. “He never panicked. He stayed on the course and we are here.”
Cleveland wasn’t in the postseason from the 2002 season until the arrival of Stefanski.
Browns are slowly getting healthy.
On Wednesday, top cornerback Denzel Ward and defensive back Kevin Johnson are expected to be active from the COVID-19 list to face the Chiefs and their powerful pass attacks.
Wide receiver Kha Darel Hodge became active on Thursday after missing three games.
However, the team does not yet have Joel Bitonio, the left guard of the Pro Bowl. Joel Vitonio has been playing with Stefanski and a few assistants since he tested positive on January 5th.
“Obviously, getting Joel back is a big deal, and hopefully it will,” said aggressive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. “We’ll see here later in the week. Joel is aggressively occupying most of our success on the left side, and getting him back there is a big deal for us.”
And while Stefanski was looking forward to going out on the driving range, at some point he would have to work on something else.
While he was away, Browns’ backup quarterback case Keenham hid something in his office.
“He asked if I still sniffed it,” Stefanski said. “But not because I lost my sense of smell.”
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