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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: September 7, 2011
Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur in the first half an NFL preseason football gameagainst the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Browns coach Pat Shurmur met with reporters this morning before practice. Here is a transcript of the news conference:

(Opening statement)- “It is game week and we just had our first walk-through of the week, although we’ve basically had two other practices where we’ve had a chance to work on things somewhat specific to the Bengals.  I don’t think we are any different than most teams in terms of the time we’ve spent since we’ve finalized our team.  We’ve had one last change, Tyler Clutts went to the Chicago Bears on their 53-man roster and we signed a fullback, Eddie Williams, to replace him on the practice squad.”

(On how Colt McCoy has come along and how he has grasped this offense)- “Where it began was obviously in the offseason, him being curious about what things were going to look like.  We watched in his offseason how he tried to lead the team with very little information, which I thought was terrific.  He took the initiative to go see Brett Favre.  What you saw was a guy eager to learn.  It continued and really started once we started training camp where I felt like he met us more than half way.  He was trying to gobble it all up the best he could. Each little stage then, you saw him in practice, a little bit rusty and then he’d fix some errors.  Then he got an opportunity to go in be pretty efficient in the first preseason game and then he went through the process of training camp and basically did what we wanted. Now, the next step is to do it for 60 minutes in a regular season game.  He’s kind of been passing the tests in my mind as we’ve gone along and so Sunday will be the next test.”

(On what kind of progress he expects McCoy to make in his second year)- “For me it’s his first year.  I know he got some experience a year ago and he was kind of thrown into the fire playing for guys that were injured and he battled and found a way to win some games.  That’s the way he is.  If you track his career all the way back to grade school, he’s won a whole bunch of games.  He doesn’t do it alone, but I think when you have a guy who has that innate ability to be involved with winning then you hope it continues to transfer.”

(On if he’s learned anything new about McCoy as a coach compared to just scouting him a year ago)- “You think you know when you’re scouting him, but I think what I’ve learned the most being around him in the last six weeks is that he wants to do everything right and he puts a lot of pressure on himself to make sure he’s right.  If he makes an error, he’s quick to recognize it and it’s very rare he’ll make the same mistake twice. Those are the things you need to be around the player to see and I think I’ve seen that.”

(On if McCoy put too much on his shoulders in the offseason)- “I don’t know about too much, but you’re curious about how things are going to be so you grab little bit of information and run with it.  You think you know, but you don’t know.  I don’t know, I was a student once.  I can remember, you get ready for a test and you just know a little bit and that’s dangerous.  That’s really dangerous because you get in and you don’t know what direction to go as opposed to when you’ve had an opportunity to go through the system, go through the process.  Now you can anticipate what’s really important and what’s not.  I think that’s probably where in his mind in the offseason there was some anxiety.  There was always that conversation about we’re going to be behind, does he know enough and I’m sure he challenged himself mentally through the offseason, but, I think he’s handled it well.”

(On how long it will take for Joshua Cribbs to get used to the rest of the guys on the return team since he hasn’t been out there with them)- “Well he hasn’t done it games.  He’s fielded a heck of a lot of punts in practice and I think that’s the important part and he’s worked the returns full speed.  He’s got a lot of experience returning kicks and from that stand point, I don’t anticipate there’ll be any drop off in his return game.”

(On how many new guys there are on the kickoff return team compared to last year)- “They’re all new for me.  Every year your primary backup role players are on special teams.  There’s a chance we could have six rookies playing a major role so there’s a lot of newness and that would kind of carry over into special teams as well.”

(On if there’s a cutoff point for how deep into the end zone they will return kicks)- “Yeah, we’ll have that conversation with him.”

(On if there could be 109 yard returns)- “You know, it’s like a homerun hitter, are you going to make him take on a 3-0 count?  I don’t know.  He’s a competitor, he’s a play maker and the one thing about Josh that I appreciate is when he gets in the ball games, he loves to play the game.  He doesn’t mind it thick which means he doesn’t mind blocking, he doesn’t mind catching the ball in the middle of the field.  It takes a great amount of courage to return those kicks.  It would be like catching the ball up here and running through you folks (joking).  There’s a lot going on.  I’ve got a lot of respect for him for those reasons.”

(On getting the ball in Cribbs’ hands more often on offense because of his ability to make plays)- “Yeah, we’re going to play him at receiver.  He’s going to lineup and play receiver quite a bit and then he’s going to return punts and he’s going to return kicks.  We’re going to do what we can to try and get him the football.  I’m anticipating that every kick won’t be a touchback so he’ll get his shots.”

(On McCoy’s ability to extend plays with his mobility and if he has done that at the right times)- “He’s learning and there’s a learning curve to extending a play or knowing the timing in the pocket and going through your progression, after your second or third hitch now you’re into a scramble.  Once you scramble, then there’s decision making to be done while you’re scrambling.  If you’re out around the boundary and there’s nobody open and you can’t get yards you throw it away.  If you push up in the pocket and start to scramble and then you start getting running amongst you folks then before you get hit you go down.  There are a lot of things that happen and that takes practice as well.  To know when time is running out and I’ve pushed up through the pocket and I’ve got to get going.  We drill that quite a bit.  I know he and Mark (Whipple) spend a lot of time talking about it.  When we watch the tape, if there’s a certain coverage where guys are running around covering man to man and he can push up into the pocket.  There’s a strategy, technique and fundamental to that as well.”

(On how much the organization liked A.J. Green)- “We liked him quite a bit.  We felt like he was going to be like a top flight receiver.  We liked him a lot.”

(On what makes Green standout) - “He was pretty refined as a receiver coming out of college.  He’s got size, he can run and he can catch.  He had, in our opinion, what you need to have skill and ability wise to have success.  He’s already showing up as a guy that’s going to be a playmaker for Cincinnati.”

(On people being nervous about how they will balance being a pass-first offense and have a power running game)- “First, I’ll say this, in the NFL it’s about scoring points whether its pass first, run first.  I think we’ll do what we have to do to try to score points.  I think it’s important you establish a physical run game regardless of how much you throw the football.  I don’t know who’s nervous, but I’m just looking forward to playing the game.  We’re going to try to do what we have to do to win this game.  That really starts by, offensively within the scheme and the system, by getting the ball to the guys that can make plays, whether you hand it to them or throw it to them, those guys have to touch it.”

(On Steven Jackson having more carries than Peyton Hillis last year)- “You have to look at the situation of the team as well.  When we went to St. Louis we were, I wouldn’t call it rebuilding, but there was work to be done.  When you look at your roster and the players that you have available and you have a guy like Steven Jackson, who has been a tremendous player for them for a long time and still is, it makes sense to get him the ball.”

(On Andy Dalton)- “We liked him as well on tape.  We had a chance to fully evaluate most players that we’ll talk about all year.  He’s very accurate, I think he’s a tough guy, I think he works well from the pocket, I think he’s mobile enough to make plays outside the pocket and extend the play and we liked him a great deal.  He was a guy, much like A.J. Green, once he learns the system and gets up and running, I think he’s going to be a good quarterback in this league.”

(On if they have decided who will start at left guard)- “We haven’t finished deciding, but right now we have Jason (Pinkston) in there working.  We also have Artis Hicks and John Greco so we have a little bit of a rotation there.”

(On going into a game having not seen his full offense together as a unit during the preseason)- “I don’t know what to say about that, you like to see them all working together.  I feel like I’ve seen a lot of them in practice.  Unfortunately through the training camp, it’s very rare you have all 11 of them out there all at one time for whatever reason.  I think we’ve got a lot of good players on this team.  I think we’ve got a lot of players that work well together and so I’m looking forward to that Sunday.”

(On his expectations for Mohamed Massaquoi)- “I think he has done a terrific job of staying mentally into it, in terms of his route conversions depending on the coverage, the depth of his routes and understanding when we are going to be taking a gimmie or an easy one.  He is a natural route runner in my opinion.  I think I have seen him get up to speed here pretty quickly. I don’t have any concern there.”

(On Tony Pashos’ foot)- “He is still in the boot.  They are trying to get that foot to settle down a little bit.  We will kind of diagnose where he is at probably tomorrow and see where we go.”

(On who else will miss practice today)- “(Chris) Gocong will be out there.  That’s probably one you were asking about.  Ben Watson will be out there and Usama Young will be out there. Right now, probably Tony. I might be missing somebody, but I think that’s it.”

(On if Gocong will be able to play)- “He is practicing today and that’s the first step, so we will see how he responds to today’s practice as we go through tomorrow and then Friday.”

(On guy’s gravitating towards McCoy as a leader)- “I think I see that. When you watch the interaction, the play starts in the huddle.  When he gets in the huddle and he is terrific at calling the play, mixes up the cadence.  The things we have asked him to do at the line a scrimmage he has handled well. I think the players have responded to him pretty well.  That’s a natural part of his personality to take charge, but you can’t take charge unless you know what you are doing.  I think he has displayed to his teammates that he knows what he is doing and I think that’s where the confidence continues to build.”

(On if he needed to take a refresher course to what the AFC North is like after being in the NFC for so many years)- “We spent a lot of time in the offseason looking at the teams in the division.  We obviously studied the players, schemes and the coaches.  We have some guys on this staff that have played them so I leaned on their intimate knowledge of the players.  I’ve played against this division a few times in the past.  It’s a gritty division.  You have some teams that are top notch.  Really every team in this league has a chance to win games, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati. I think if you look at a team like Cincinnati, they are a very talented team.  They have made the statement that they want to get back to running the football and being physical. You can see that in the preseason.  I have always been impressed with them defensively.  We played them was in the preseason when I was at St. Louis, but when I was with Philadelphia we played them in 2008.  They have the same style, they are very physical on defense.  They have a defensive coordinator that keeps the pressure on you and they have guys that can cover.  I think that’s kind of the team we are going to face this week.  I think it’s probably a good initial look at what this division is all about.”

(On if he has a a team meeting and got the sense of what the mood is like)- “We have had team meetings every day that we’ve practice.  I had one this morning.  My first one this week was this morning at 9:00 and I just pretty much set the table of what to expect.  I told the players that the opponent is very important that we are playing, but it’s also important that we try to eliminate mistakes and take care of the football, and really all the other things that are important when you play winning football. I thought the mood was good.  I think there is anticipation.  They did a nice job at the first walk-through.  I didn’t see many mistakes.  They have a specific game plan for first and second down now on offense, defense and special teams.  We are just moving forward and then we will add to it here as we go through the week and tie it all together on Saturday and go play.”

(On coming into a new team and implementing new rules to make it positive for the players)- “I don’t know about rules.  I do know this though, I believe in a professional approach, which means when you talk about the coaches and the players, they are professional men working together to put a team on the field that has a chance to win football games. That’s the underline theme.  I believe in human dignity, which means everybody’s job is important whether you are talking to the media or you might be on two phases of special teams.  Everybody’s job is important and you do your job, and that’s the other part of it.  The rules, in terms of whether they like them or not, what we demand of the players has been thought out.  We just don’t have rules to have rules, and every time I do mention that, ‘We are going to do it this way or I am used to doing it this and I want you guys to do it this way,’ I will tell them and here’s why.  We tuck our jerseys in and our undershirts in at practice because first of all it looks good.  Second of all, it’s a safety concern.  Nobody that is trying to tackle you will grab the back of your jersey even if they want to, they can’t get it. That’s pretty much the approach and we take it from there.  The rules I do I have I stick by them.  If you have a rule you have to be willing to enforce it.”

(On Greg Little being named the most outstanding rookie in camp by the media)- “I think he has developed too.  Greg is a fun guy to be around, he really is. I say that because he is a guy I look for every day.  He really has been doing a good job.  We talked earlier in camp how he would drop a few balls one day or the next, but he is working at it and he’s got a lot of talent.  He is another guy and he is much like Josh in a lot of ways as a receiver.  I think he loves to play the game and Sunday’s are probably his favorite days.”

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