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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: August 23, 2011

Browns coach Pat Shurmur met with reporters today after the 17th practice of training camp. Here is the transcript from the news conference:

(Opening statement)- “Injury wise, nothing of note today.  Peyton (Hillis) didn’t practice, he had a little bit of a sore back this morning.  We don’t anticipate that it’s a big deal.  To start out, this will be the last opportunity for the fans to come watch us practice.  I think the players and coaches are really embracing the fans that here and we’re very lucky to have such great fan base.  I know our players appreciate the efforts that our fans make to come watch practice and it’s always fun when there’s people watching you do what you do.  I know they’re doing that now and it happened to be a beautiful day.  Much like every other second day before a preseason game we worked on a lot of red zone today, which again was good.  There was some excellent competition.  The defense did a nice job, they were tight to the routes.  We made some plays offensively, which was good.  Then there were some great plays of course on defense.  I thought there was some excellent competition there.”

(On if Hillis will play Thursday)- “I’m assuming so.  I don’t know much other than when I came out this morning, I was told he had a sore lower back.”

(On if he assumes Hillis will play)- “I think so, yeah.  I’m assuming so, but I don’t know.  Again, we’ll have to see how that works.”

(On Montario Hardesty’s progress)- “Good, he had a really good day today.  We’re going to play him Thursday.”

(On how much Hardesty will be involved in the offense)- “He’s going to get some snaps.  I think it’s important that his process of coming back from this knee injury has been pretty, in my opinion, on pace with that I expected.  Part of that is playing in the preseason games.  We’ll get him some work and see how he holds up.  I do think too much sometimes is as bad as not enough.”

(On if there is a set number of snaps for Hardesty)- “Not really.  We’ll feel it out.  He’ll probably appear in the first half at some point.”

(On Joe Thomas signing long-term deal)- “The Joe Thomas signing, I think that’s terrific for the Cleveland Browns, it’s terrific for Cleveland.  You’re talking about a guy that’s been to Pro Bowls, knock-on-wood, he’s been at every practice and game.  He’s done great things for this city and our organization and we’re glad he’s going to be with us.”

(On how much the starters will play on Thursday)- “I’m shooting for at least a half and then we’ll see how it goes from there.”

(On Sheldon Brown’s performance)- “He’s done a good job.  Sheldon’s a pro.  What I appreciateabout him is he comes out here and works every day.  I really appreciate his leadership in the back end.  I think you need that.  It gets crazy back there sometimes.  It’s win or lose on every play if you’re in the secondary and he has a stabilizing personality for the guys and I appreciate that.”

(On if Sheldon Brown is too good of a corner to move to safety)- “I don’t know if that’s the case about moving him to safety, but he can definitely play corner in this league.  I’m really pleased to see how he’s progressed coming off of his shoulder surgery and he’s doing a good job.  He’s a bright light.  He enjoys practicing, he enjoys playing, the game is very important to him and he expresses that to the guys on defense.”

(On Sheldon Brown’s hands)- “He can catch and that’s important.  It’s really important for a corner. You want takeaways. It’s important when the balls in the air I want it to be the Cleveland Browns’ ball.  When we’re on offense it’s the receiver and if we’re on defense we want those defenders to go get it.  You have to be able to catch the ball to be a really, really good player in this league. ”

(On Evan’s Moore return and using him in the red zone)- “He’s such a big target and I think it’s only natural to assume that we’ll throw him the ball.  But, we have some other tall guys as well.  I like what he brings to the table in terms of a target down there so maybe.”

(On the mismatch Moore creates for defenses being more prevalent in the red zone)- “No question because the size. It’s not so much about catch and run.  It’s just the ability to put a ball where you can catch it and sometimes a big target, you can put the ball away from a guy that maybe he’s taller than.”

(On viewing Joe Thomas from the eyes of the offensive linemen)- “I think he’s proved durability, he plays the premiere offensive line position when you’re playing with right-handed quarterbacks, he’s a good run blocker, he’s a good pass blocker, he’s a terrific leader and he’s a consistent steady guy that performs his job extremely well.  I’ll tell you what for a coach, that’s what you’re looking for.”

(On if Thomas’ work ethic trickles down to other players)- “I think so.  When rookies come into the league, as coaches we tell them what we expect and we set standards and we do all those things.  But, when you can say as a coach, ‘Watch how he does it.’ I think that’s when you’ve got something.  When you have guys on your team that are like that, it helps bring the younger guys along quicker, in my opinion.”

(On if he thinks about contracts as a coach and if he has to manage anything with Thomas now that he is set financially)- “I don’t really think about it.  I think all that takes care of its self.  When you’re dealing with contracts and guys that are professionals, he understands how important it is for him to perform well.  Not only for himself, but for his teammates, this organization and this city.  Certain guys just have pride in their work and Joe’s one of those guys.  I guess you have to look at each case differently but in terms of Joe, not at all.”

(On players battling for roster spots)- “I think there’s still competition at some spots.  Whether it be to make the team as a backup or role player. I think there’s still some of that going on.”

(On the team’s first road game and matchup against Philadelphia)- “It’s the first road game for the new coaching staff and the players so we’ve laid out a way that we want to travel.  That’s the first part and we’re going through that for the first time.  A lot of the players have already done this.  I think it’s important that as a team you focus on your fundamentals and doing what you have to do and wherever you play you play.  That’s part of the message.  You’re just aware of the fact that when you’re playing away that some things could be more difficult. Communicating because of the noise, you’re not sleeping in your own bed, those types of things.  You make them aware of it and then they deal with it.”

(On the similarities of coaching style now compared to when he was in Philadelphia)- “The process of training camp?  Very similar very similar.  Of course, the practice, the way we wanted to practice changed a little bit because of the new rules, but when we meet, how we meet, the types of things we practice in practice, the length of the day and the tempo of practices.  A lot of that mimics what I learned in Philadelphia.  Then you add to that some of the things we did in St. Louis as well.”

(On if the new rules with practice will lengthens careers and if it makes it more difficult to do his job)- “In terms of lengthening careers, I don’t know.  I think this is going to take a while to evaluate.  We’re going to have to do a year’s cycle here to see how it fits.  As far as making it more difficult to do our jobs, again, it’s our first time through it.  We’re trying to teach at a fast pace and we’re expecting the players to learn it.  I think we’ve adjusted some things just because we have a new team and that’s probably more of a function of having a new team and new coaches than it is of the system.”

(On if Brandon Jackon’s injury will increase Hardesty’s reps on Thursday)- “Montario’s workload is going to be the same regardless of who’s in there with him.  If we have to put two fullbacks in the game, we’ll do it.  In terms on Montario, his workload is independent right now of other guys at that position.”

(On the positives/concerns of training camp)- “I think the positive part was, although the players  were tired and sore, and this is not over yet, the style of how we practice will change a little bit, but they fought through it pretty well.  Some of the nagging injuries, guys that we’re hopeful to get back, as a coach, you just wish they were out here because each training camp practice is a valuable experience.  They’re coaching moments in there that they’re tough to get back.  But, that’s the reality of it.  I think every camp that you visit or talk about has guys that are nicked a little bit.  As I’ve talked about it in the past, it just lets you work the younger guys more.”

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