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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: September 8, 2011

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

(Opening statement)- “Today is goal line, short yardage, third down day and then review of the base.  We’re just adding to the plan here getting ready to play. There’s nothing really new to add.  I think everything injury wise is made official and so there’s nothing there.  I answer specific questions if you have them.”

(On Tony Pashos’ status and if he is out of the boot)- “He’s actually out of the boot and he competed in the walk-through today.  They made something for his shoe so hopefully that’ll help him settle that foot down.  He was actually out at the walk-through and we intend to practice him today and see how he’s doing.”

(On if he’s made a decision on who will start at left guard)- “I don’t want to say definitively, but right now Jason Pinkston’s taking most of if not all of the reps there.  The way we practice now, the one’s basically take all the reps when we’re working the Browns’ stuff and then really a lot of the reps that the backups get are when they’re working the cards against our defense and vice versa.”

(On Artis Hicks playing at left guard)- “Artis is working there as well.  As I mentioned yesterday, we’ve got three guys working at left guard and three guys working at right tackle.  We feel like we’re going to need that flexibility.  You’ve got Jason, you’ve got Artis and you’ve got (John) Greco working at left guard.  Then at right tackle you’ve got Oniel Cousins, Artis Hicks and then you’ve got Greco.  We’ll work them there and see what happens.”

(On how fast Cousins is picking up the offense)- “He’s picked it up fine.  He actually came in here with about two days notice and played in the last preseason game.  Again, he’s got experience in this league starting, he’s not a rookie and I think we’ve kind of gone down this road a few times - offensive line come in and if you’re playing those positions you’ve practiced at other spots.  I think that’s part of the training camp experience, unless you’re Joe Thomas and you’re playing left tackle or you’re Alex Mack and you’re playing center, those couple of guys or right now for us Shawn Lauvao who’s playing right guard.  Those other guys behind it, those three in this case, play a lot of different spots.”

(On Pashos shaking off the rust and his progression this far)- “I thought he was doing a good job.  I wasn’t with him the last couple years so I guess I didn’t see the rust.  I felt like he was competing and doing well, playing like a right tackle in this league plays.  Then he developed that foot soreness.”

(On if Montario Hardesty’s workload will be limited)- “There’s no pitch counts on anybody Sunday.  We’re out there to win the game.  He will play, he will get some carries but as you know Peyton Hillis is our starting tailback.”

(On how Hillis affects the defense and his play calling)- “I think he’s a fine runner.  What I’ve seen in the preseason is that he does a good job of catching the football as well.  The key when you have a halfback that you want to get the ball to, it really doesn’t matter if you hand it to him or throw it to him as long as he gets it and that’s kind of the way I look at it.  I think of those as when they get their touches.”

(On if running the West Coast offense will affect how teams try to defend against Hillis)- “I don’t know, that’s probably not a fair question for me.  I think we see ourselves one way and then the teams that defend us may see us another.  They really determine which playmakers they’re going to try to take away.  Hopefully we’ll create enough balance where we can play football and spread the ball around.  That’s the little game that we all play.  At the end of the day I think if all the skill players that are out there get their touches, we find a way to run the ball efficiently and then find a way to put points on the board then that’s what you’re looking for.”

(On how the transition to the 4-3 defense is going)- “Again, I don’t have anything to compare it to because I wasn’t here coaching when we were lined up in a 3-4.  It’s the front that I’m use to seeing, it’s the front that we played 10 years in Philadelphia and then two years in St. Louis.  I’m use to seeing it.   If you just want to talk about our team, the 2011 Browns, I’ve seen the guys improve in the last six weeks.”

(On if he remembers what he was doing on September 11, 2001)- “Absolutely, it’s one of those event in life, it’s such a devastating tragedy and I do remember it.  I was actually in Philadelphia.  I was sitting at my desk and we we’re getting ready at the time to play Tampa Bay in Tampa Bay.  At the time I was a tight end coach so I had to do a lot of computer work and I was actually drawing up runs for the scouting report.  I had a little TV on the end of my counter and our secretary, Carol Wilson, walked in and she said, ‘Turn on the TV.’  She had thought at the time, and I think it was first reported, that a small airplane had crashed into the tower.  I’ll never forget it because when she walked into my office to tell me, we turned on the TV and then Carol Wilson and I actually saw the second plane on TV hit the second tower.  It was very real for us in Philadelphia being so close to New York City. We had people in the organization that had loved ones in the tower working in New York City.  It was just a very tough day for all of us, especially for those of us who were not only in New York City, but on the east coast.  Then I think what happened there was, as the information started to trickle out, that it was a very devastating attack, then our thoughts kind of drifted away from game planning for Tampa Bay, the players were coming around and then the information spread that the game was going to be canceled that week. I’ll never forget it.”

(On if it’s hard to believe that some players were only in grade school at the time of the attacks)- “I think as we get older, if we were able to experience it, I have children that probably don’t know much about it as well.  I know they’re being educated on it now I’m sure this week in school.  But, it’s one of those events in life that you’ll never forget and it’ll be something that we’ll educate the people that come after us about.”

(On if he can put into words what this game means to him as a first time head coach)- “I don’t know about words.  I’m excited.  I feel like the players have been kind of jumping over the hurdles that they need to jump over.  I think organizationally we’re doing the same thing.  You go through the process of the offseason, the draft and getting ready for the season.  It was a little bit non-traditional.  I shouldn’t say a little bit, it was a lot non-traditional.  What started to feel normal to me was when training camp started.  I think then you get about six weeks of work here where you get yourself refocused on what you think it should look like.  I got a good vision of what practice today should look like and I know what tomorrow should look like and how Saturday should feel.  I think it’s just general excitement, I’m looking forward to seeing our guys compete.”

(On if he knows how he would the game look like)- “I know how I’d like to see it look.  I don’t know what the games going to come out like, but I like to be able to visualize the scoreboard at the end of course.”

(On what sets him off because so many players yesterday talked about how composed he is)- “Oh there’s a lot of things (joking), there really is and kudos to those players that you talked to for keeping our secrets.  I guess I have a low tolerance for guys that don’t try to do the right thing.  I have low tolerance for guys who don’t compete hard, those types of things.  I probably have a low tolerance for guys who repeat mistakes. Disrespect, at least I know in our house you respect your elders and you never lie, just some of those primary things.”

(On what his captain situation is)- “We’re going to have game captains which means we’ll have three new captains that’ll go for the coins toss each week.  Typically when we’re playing scrimmage downs and we’re on offense of course Colt (McCoy) will handle it on the field and on defense typically D’Qwell (Jackson) in terms of the penalties.  In the special team situations, Phil’s (Dawson) out there.  We’ll have game captains and this week its Colt McCoy, Scott Fujita and Phil Dawson.  I do have this though, I have what I consider a group of guys that I would consider to be the leaders on this team.  We’re constantly talking about things like you would if you had two or three set captains.”

(On how many guys are in this leadership group)- “We have a group of 15 guys.”

(On how he thinks the 4-3 will be against the run)- “If we play it well, I think it should work.  I don’t have any concerns there.”

(On what it is in this system that’ll work against the run)- “I just think if we play sound in our gaps, if we attack the line of scrimmage.  Defending the run is a team thing.  Typically, teams will run zone plays and they’ll run it to the right and the thing can cut back to the left or it can spill out.  I think there needs to be discipline, you need to have guys on the line of scrimmage defeating their blocks and you need linebackers that are filling in the right spots as well as the third level, the safeties.  Stopping the run is a team thing and we cover the gaps a little bit different than you do in the 3-4, but if executed properly we should be able to do the same thing.”

(On adjusting his play calling without Eric Steinbach in the lineup)- “You typically don’t change you’re play calls based on the replacement of a left guard.  We look each week at if it’s better to run right or left, in the middle or outside.  We’re always evaluating that.  Again, the one thing I feel good about if it ends up being Jason, which it probably will be, is he’s surrounded there by Alex Mack and Joe Thomas.  Good centers are usually getting help or giving help and I think that’s something I know Jason can count on.”

(On if he expects Chris Gocong to start)- “I expect him to.  He practiced yesterday and did well so he’ll be out there again today.  That’s kind of the litmus test for guys being in the game.”

(On if Pashos is expect to start)- “If practice goes well and the reports are that he’ll be ready to go then absolutely he’ll be the starter.”

(On Usama Young being caught up mentally in terms of this defense)- “He did a good job when he was out with his hamstring learning.  He’s gotten many more reps here in the last few days because he’s practicing.  I think he’s caught up.  He’s ready to go.”

(On how much he is depending on his group of leaders to take the young guys through a new offense and a new defense)- “That was one of the first things we talked about was these guys that have established themselves as leaders, you could probably make up the list yourself if you want, but I’ll keep that between the players and the coach here.  I basically told them that we’re going to have some young ones in there and part of being a young one is this first time out  even though they may have done a good job, their emotions are going to go a little bit.  Just keep it calm, settle them down and do what guys have been through it before do.  I think they’re aware of that.”

(On if Usama Young will start at safety)- “We haven’t determined that at this point.”

(On if he would play Mike Adams and Usama Young at the same time)- “Sure, I think there’s a chance they could both play.”

(On if he, Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert were all on the same page during the roster cuts)- “I would say this, there were no knock down drag out arguments about who we cut or keep if that’s what you’re alluding to.  Yes, I would say we’re on the same page, absolutely.”

(On how it has been to work with Holmgren and Heckert)- “In terms of working together, I think it’s been terrific.  I think there’s a natural interaction.  Tom Heckert’s office is just one door down from mine and I can travel behind the scenes and not out in the hallway. We bounce back and forth all the time.  When I’m going from meetings I’ll bounce through the training room and go see Tom.  It’s very rare I don’t see Tom about every couple hours.  I see coach Holmgren quite frequently during the day as well.  If things come up, we talk about them and if I have something that we need to discuss, we bring it up, we discuss, we execute it and move on.  Again, maybe it’s a better question for Mike and Tom, I feel as though it’s been natural.  In fact, I’ve kind of enjoyed the process so far.”

(On if his relationship with Holmgren is similar to his relationship with Andy Reid was)- “I think it’s similar in a lot of ways. The structure of how I was an assistant coach working for a head coach so that’s probably a little bit different.  As the head coach and the president we probably talk about things that are a little bit different.  That probably makes that relationship the same, but different.  I don’t know if I’m saying that the right way.”

(On if Holmgren and Reid have the same type of knowledge set)- “My interaction with Andy was mostly football and relating it to the quarterback.  My interaction with Mike is some football, but then there are other things from an organizational now sitting here as the head coach.  That’s why I say it’s the same and different.  I wouldn’t have normally talked to Andy Reid about how we’re going to schedule a training camp, these are my thoughts.  I just executed what he said.  They’re different types on conversations, but very similar.”

(On the importance of starting the season 1-0 because teams that start 1-0 are more likely to have a good season)- “I think it’s important.  It’s important if you’re going to string some victories together that you get the first one.  I do know a loss in the first game is only fatal if you let it be because it’s a long season, but I do get your statement about it’s much easier to have a good season if you win the first one.  I’m aware of all that and we’re doing what we can to put a team out there that can compete and give ourselves a chance to win that game.”


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