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Highlights from chat with Browns coach Pat Shurmur and General Manager Tom Heckert

By Nate Ulrich Published: February 25, 2011

Browns coach Pat Shurmur and General Manager Tom Heckert met with local reporters for about an hour Friday at a hotel near Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the site of the NFL Scouting Combine. They confirmed the Browns will switch to a 4-3 defense and expressed their faith quarterback in quarterback Colt McCoy's ability to lead the offense in 2011. Here are some of the highlights from the question-and-answer session:


  • Will the Browns offer their restricted free agents contract tenders before the collective bargaining agreement expires? Heckert said: "Without saying for sure, yeah, it’s probably going to happen."

  • Will kicker Phil Dawson sign his franchise tender? Heckert said: "To be honest with you, I have not talked to him. I’ve tried to get a hold of him. I’ve spoken to his agent."

  • Would the Browns want to sign Dawson to a long-term deal? Heckert said: "Yeah. Anytime we’ve got a guy that we like and we want, we’d love to have him long term."

  • Will quarterback Jake Delhomme need to take a pay cut to return? Heckert said: "We haven’t had this discussion with Jake. That will be something down the road that we'll talk to him about."

  • Would the Browns negotiate with any of their unrestricted free agents before the CBA expires? Heckert said: "Yeah, we would. Whether that’s going to happen or not remains to be seen. We talked to a couple of our guys before we left. To say anything’s close or anything, no. I’m sure next week we’ll get back and probably talk to some guys again. No contract discussion, really. There’s some guys at least we’ve told that we would like back."

  • Do the Browns want linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who is unsigned for next season, back? "Sure. We’d like to have D’Qwell back."

  • Is Jackson better suited for a 4-3 defense? Heckert said: "I think he is and I think D’Qwell feels that way. I’m not speaking for D’Qwell. I’ve talked to him about that in the past. I think he can play either one. I don’t think he’s a non-fit in a 3-4, but a 4-3’s probably better for him."

  • Would you take a quarterback early in the draft? Shurmur said: "I would say that based on what I know to this point, I'm extremely excited about working with Colt (McCoy) and him being our guy, so beyond that as we said, I think that's where we're going. I think what we do do, though, and I learned this from (Philadelphia Eagles) coach (Andy) Reid, who obviously learned it from (Browns President Mike) Holmgren, you're always looking at the quarterback position in every draft. If you can find a guy that you think has the skill and ability to be a great one, then you obviously want to pursue it."

  • Are the Browns monitoring the shoulder problem McCoy discussed in recent radio interviews? Heckert said: "To be honest with you, I don’t know why he was talking about it, he’s fine. He’s fine. He has been in (the team's facility in Berea). But he’s fine."

  • NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi said McCoy needs to improve his strength. Do you agree? Shurmur said: "I thoroughly evaluated Colt last year when we went through the process with Sam (Bradford), and I'm excited about working with him. He's very talented, he works extremely hard, football's important to him, he's an accurate passer, he understands timing, he's a good decision-maker and I think he's got all the things you're looking for in a guy that can be your guy, and so from that standpoint, I think it's an exciting time. ... I don't have any questions about Colt's arm."

  • Do you want cornerback Eric Wright, who is unsigned for next season, back and do you think he just had an off year?: Heckert said: "I don't know. I really don't. I think Eric's a good football player. I really do. Would we take him? Yeah, probably."

  • What do you think of the team's cornerback situation? Heckert said: "I think we've got two really good ones, and the third one, we'll see. We have a couple guys that we like on our team, but is that a position that we would look at? Yeah. I mean I think corners -- there's obviously the quarterback, the corners, the defensive linemen, the offensive linemen -- you're not going to say, 'Well, we have these guys.' If there's a really good one, you're not gonna pass on him. So I think corner is just as good a possbility as anything."

  • Would the Browns shy away from picking a wide receiver with the sixth overall pick? Shurmur said: "As far as picking guys high at certain positions, I don't think that's an issue at receiver. I think if you can find a great player, and he's at the spot where you're willing to pick him, let's do it." Heckert said: "A lot of people don't like to take receivers that high. For whatever reason and I don't even know if it's a true, factual statement, but it seems like there's a lot of busts early. So I think that scares people off. In the last few years, there's been a lot for whatever reason that is. So I think that does scare you off. Obviously we've got a long way to go before the draft, but if the guy's good enough, I don't think there's any question about it. You have to have conviction. But there's a lot of teams that had conviction, and guys didn't work out."

  • Do the Browns need a big playmaker on offense like Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green? Shurmur said: "Explosive players on offense I think are what you're looking for. Obviously, he fits in that explosive player category."

  • Will Browns defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin be able to convert to a 4-3 defense? Heckert said: "Yeah, he can play either one. ... We like our tackles to be interchangeable. It’s left and right, not one and three technique. That’s what we’d like in a perfect world. It remains to be seen whether we can do that. That’s how we always were in Philadelphia. It’s left and right. That makes it tougher on the offense. Rubin could do either one."

  • Are the Browns interested in drafting a right tackle? Heckert said: "We think Tony (Pashos is) our starter right now. Would we want a young guy? Sure. We want young all the way through. We need probably some young offensive linemen in general, let alone right tackle. Shurmur said: "We think it's important to address the offensive line in every draft. That's a key piece of your team."

  • Is Lawrence Vickers, who is unsigned for next season, capable of being the type of pass-catching fullback best suited for the West Coast offense? Shurmur said: "From what I've seen from Vickers, he's a physical blocker. I've seen no indication that he can't catch the football."

  • How has running back Montario Hardesty been recovering from his season-ending torn left ACL? Shurmur said: "When this process started, from the interviewing to the hiring, one of the first people I saw in the building was Montario. He was in there rehabbing on what would've been a quiet day. So he's been there quite a bit. He looks like he's approaching his rehab in an aggressive way. The progress he's making has been good."

  • Will the Browns hire a new director of pro personnel now that Keith Gilbertson has left the front office to join Shurmur's coaching staff as a senior offensive assistant? Heckert said: "Not right now."

  • Do the Browns want quarterback Seneca Wallace, who's unsigned for next season, to return? Heckert said: "We want Seneca back. He knows that. I think he’s at least open to it. So we’ll have to wait and see." Shurmur said:  "I’m a Seneca fan. He’s a West Coast quarterback. I’m not thinking about the Wildcat. He can line up under center. He’s done it for a lot of years in this system."

  • Defensive lineman Robaire Smith, who's unsigned for next season, hopes to make a comeback after suffering a season-ending back injury? Do the Browns want him? Heckert said: "Robaire came in. I don’t know 100 percent right now what the latest is. He’s a great guy."

  • Is tight end Evan Moore under contract? Heckert said: "He will be."

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