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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: October 3, 2011

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

(Opening statement) - “Good afternoon, how’s it going?  Let me touch on the injuries. Sheldon Brown pulled through the game fine. I don’t think he was any worse for wear.  Joshua Cribbs has what’s characterized as a slight knee sprain. He’ll be day-to-day so we’ll see how that goes.  Joe Haden sustained a knee sprain as well so we’re continuing to evaluate that.  He won’t practice tomorrow and we’ll just have to see as we move forward how significant it is.  At this point, I don’t know anything, there’s a chance he may miss some time, but I don’t know. I don’t know that yet.  We’ll see, being that our next game is not for a couple weeks.  Tony Pashos pulled through the game fine.  I think he has the general soreness you would have after playing 91 snaps and I think he’s going to be fine as we move forward.  Something new today, Alex Mack came in with symptoms that look like appendicitis and it was evaluated and it appears like he’s going to have his appendix out here, very soon, this afternoon.  That just happened. He came in this morning with soreness or the tenderness that would point to that and they evaluated him and he’s going to have to have it out. We’ll see how that goes. I wouldn’t want to speculate on time until after he has his surgery so we’ll find out. Other than that, Eric Hagg will continue to work.  (Mohamed) Mo Massaquoi pulled out of it, his ankle feels fine.  He has a shoulder sprain that I don’t think they think is very significant so we should move forward.  Other than that, I think that’s all the injuries.  I don’t have much to add then what I talked about last night and I’ll open it up to questions, I’m sure you’ve got some things that you’re interested in and we’ll just move forward.  I mentioned to the team that I’m disappointed that we lost. I think everybody played hard, tried to do all the right things, there are just ways that we can play better. ”

(On if Peyton Hillis fits this West Coast system) - “I think Peyton Hillis fits extremely well.  He played yesterday, he got the football.  I think it’s important he touches the ball and he did.  We got to the point where we got the ball for the first time in the third quarter and it was 24-6, we’re moving the football and it quickly turned to 31-6.  Then, the ratio of whether you run it or throw it starts to change significantly, but he was having success running the ball and he did fine.”

(On if Joe Haden has had an MRI on his knee) - “He has been evaluated and they’re calling it a knee sprain.  I don’t want to misspeak that so I think that’s where it is.”

(On if reports are true that Hillis would not play or they wouldn’t play him because of his contract situation) - “I think there’s a lot going on with that question or comment, but that’s not the case.  He played and he was a contributor yesterday.  I think what’s being talked about is something that happened two weeks ago.  In my mind, it’s not an issue and as we move forward I hope it becomes something that we don’t talk about.  He’s our running back, we handed him the football, we threw it to him and he did a good job.”

(On if he was really sick) - “My understanding was he was sick and that’s why he didn’t play and he wasn’t sick this past week and he played.  It sounds as though we’re going to talk about this, but I think I’m not just saying it, that’s what happened.”

(On if the Browns would ever diminish Hillis’ role because he has an unresolved contract issue) - “Absolutely not, absolutely not.  I think that’s a non-issue.  I think what you look at; you look at the game, you look at how it gets played out and at the end of the game you sit and look at a piece of paper that talks about what happened in the game.  Well, the game changes as the score changes and we did some things where the score got stretched out on us, and you naturally now are trying to race yourself back into the game and a lot of times that involves throwing it.  I would never think of throwing the ball 61 times.  For some folks that might be fun, I would never do that if we’re in a situation where it’s different.”

(On if it concerns him that the ESPN source about the Hillis situation came from the locker room/ organization) - “When information gets out you obviously like to see names attached to it.  I am aware enough to know that there are all kinds of ways information spreads now.  I’ve never sent one Twitter, I don’t have Facebook, I’m not aware of really how it all happens.  You folks are very good at getting information and it spreads.  I’ve expressed to the team that I would prefer that we keep business in-house and I think sometimes that’s hard to do.  I can’t really control how the team feels about certain situations other than we’re constantly talking about being very professional, about doing your job and doing those types of things.  Until somebody says so and so said it, it’s very hard for me to comment beyond that.”

(On speaking to Evan Moore and Peyton Hillis in terms of lack of play) - “Neither one of them said anything to me about it.  I would say this, everyone in that locker room was disappointed that we lost and I think its skill players, guys that touch the ball.  There’s something about their nature where they want it all the time and I think that’s something good.  I think we all know that when we don’t get everything that we’re looking for there are certain ways to handle it.  It’s very hard for me to say beyond that.”

(On players saying ‘you have to ask the coach’) - “I think that’s natural.  Again, I can’t tell you I just know this, there were a lot of guys in the locker room disappointed because we lost, me being one of them.  I went home last night, but I wasn’t throwing furniture.  I was upset.  I’m sure I wasn’t great at conversation last night. I was upset that we lost, but you know what, we get a good night sleep or the best you can, you come in, you handle the issues of the day and you move forward trying to do the best you can to get your team ready to play the next game.”

(On if he reflects on his own play calling) - “I looked at everything we did and I think it’s important you evaluate everything.  I wish we would have done a lot of things better and I always look at plays, whether the design was good, where you call them, when you call them and all that.  I’m always evaluating.”

(On if they have thought about throwing the ball more vertically down the field) - “There was, I think what happens to is the structure of the defense changes when they get ahead.  They play a little softer in coverage which makes it a little bit more difficult to get them on one play.”

(On playing both Hillis and Montario Hardesty and getting them enough touches where they get into a rhythm) - “I think it’s important.  I think Peyton needs to play most of the time and I think he played 50 or so snaps, I think 55. I’ll go back and double check it. I think Hardesty played in the thirties and there were times when they were in their together.  No, it’s important and I think Peyton will get and should get more snaps and more carries.  That’s just natural.”

(On if he talked to Hillis personally that morning before Miami and if he asked him if he could play knowing that it was an illness and not an injury related situation) - “What I would say it this, he and I had a conversation.  My understanding was that he was ill and he didn’t play.  That’s my understanding and so we moved forward and that’s when Hardesty played a lot.  Yesterday, he (Hillis) was healthy and he played and he started and did a good job.”

(On if Hillis looked legitimately sick to him) - “Yes, he looked sick.  I’m not trying to talk around it.  He was ill and he looked ill.”

(On whose decision was it for Hillis not to play) - “The young man was sick and he didn’t play, OK and that’s the end of it.  He played yesterday and I think that’s what the important thing is.  Two weeks ago he didn’t play. We played the Miami Dolphins and won the game.  Yesterday, he did. He was a significant contributor yesterday and we didn’t win.”

(On if he heard any grumbling from players in the locker room about Hillis not playing last week) - “No, I did not.”

(On when he addressed the team and said ‘let’s keep our business in-house’, was he referring directly to the ESPN report that some teammates questioned whether or not Hillis didn’t play for specific reasons) - “I think what I said was you were asking me about reports that were from either players or the team.  What I did say was it’s hard for me to say because nobody had their name on those comments.  Again, to answer your question, I think it’s important that teams are able to operate as teams.  Information spreads, I understand that.”

(On if he has considered getting Evan Moore more involved in the passing game) - “He was in there for 20 (plays) and I don’t know if it was obvious, but we had a package where we had three tight ends, one receiver and one back, which we used a handful of times.  Evan shows up quite a bit in the red zone.  We got in there one time yesterday and so that contributes also.  Game situations dictate it sometimes.”

(On if Joe Haden will need a scope for his knee) - “I don’t know that.  At this point, my understanding is there is no surgery needed.”

(On if Alex Mack needs to miss time who his replacement would be) - “We have a couple of choices and let’s see first what happens with this surgery. We will work obviously (John) Greco at center and then Shawn (Lauvao) also played center.”

(On if he is still figuring out what the offense does best) - “I don’t know if we were trying to figure that out.  I think I am getting to know the players a lot better.  I think that’s something that you find out each week.  You obviously want to put your best players out there as often as possible.”

(On if Montario Hardesty is looking up field first before seeing the ball in his hands) - “I think sometimes when you catch in those check downs your tendency is to start running before you catch it.  That’s fair.”

(On what the team does best offensively at this point) - “I think we can run the football and I do think we are becoming better at throwing it.  Each game dictates it.  We have a lot of things that we can do and then you try to do the things you think are best against the teams you are playing.”

(On how often he has been able to stay with his initial game plan this season) - “I think obviously yesterday none because we got in a situation where we had to throw it most of the time.  The two games that we won I think we were able to stick to and be pretty consistent running and throwing throughout the game.  In the first game I think we were able to for most of the game.”

(On what you do during the bye week) - “The off week is designed to focus on that especially tomorrow in practice and then on Wednesday we will do some skill drills, weight lifting, and running.  Work on the fundamentals and try to work on getting the Browns better with an eye towards Oakland.  That’s typically what the byes are designed for.  The new rules say that you have to give the players four days off in a row and the way I want to structure it they will be totally off Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Bring them back Monday for practice and give them their traditional Tuesday off and then get into rhythm for Oakland.”

(On if he felt Nate Washington’s 57-yard touchdown was an illegal play) - “There are rules for those types of plays.  It was a good play on their part.”

(On if Colt McCoy should stay in the pocket longer at times) - “I don’t think I would say that generally.  Colt at times will flush if the protection breaks down in some place, but I don’t think that’s an issue.  There are generally things we need to work on to get better at, but typically if the route is a longer designing route you need to hang in there just a touch longer.”

(On if the defensive backs needed to switch on that play) - “They did a nice job with that play.  There are rules for that though.”

(On if the referee getting hurt played a part) - “Yes, they had an injury didn’t they.  They were working with one less.”

(On if defensive backs are able to bump receivers more than five yards off the ball) - “You’re not allowed to rub, but they executed the play well.”

(On if he will submit a letter to the league of office regarding that play) - “League business.”

(On emphasizing what needs to be improved better by the defense) - “Tackling.  You noticed there was a long play to the tight end, the deep cross.  It was a terrific throw. We had an opportunity and every once in a while they get a chunk.  We had five explosive passes too.  Where then alright you executed now you have to get the guy on the ground.  I think we had a chance to eliminate that from being a score and we didn’t and that comes back to tackling.”

(On how Tony Pashos did in his first game of the season) - “Bear in mind no one performed well enough to win, but for his first time out there I think I saw some good things.”

(On if he has found personnel groupings and consistent play calling more difficult than expected) - “No, but as I have mentioned, I’m learning about our players as we go.  Every week I get a little better idea of what they can and can’t do because they are presented with more situations and you see them operating more different situations.”

(On if fans need to come to the realization that Hillis is not going to carry the load like he did last year) - “That part is hard for me because I wasn’t here a year ago and I know he is a terrific player.  He’s a big part of what we do and again, if I were here a year ago and I could have felt all of this I might have a different answer.  The running back in any offense, especially ours, is a very important piece and he needs to touch the football.”

(On the pass protection) - “I thought for the most part the pass protection was pretty good.  We had a couple snap issues on one, but when you are in a situation where you are in a pass first scenario then you have to buckle down.  I thought for the most part they did a pretty good job there.”

(On whether not having an offseason program is hurting the team) - “No. I’ll stick to what I’ve said.  We are just like everybody else.”

(On new coaches being affected by the lockout) - “It’s hard for me to say.  The most ideal situation is you have a bunch of years and a bunch of time together.  The real situation was we didn’t and we need to go out and perform.  We just have to. I don’t know how I am being viewed by making that answer, but that’s the reality of it.  Nobody quite cares and this is me.  You can look at the sheet and say ‘boy oh boy they did a nice job.’  We didn’t we lost.  There are fifteen other teams that are dealing with the same scenario and there are no excuses.  We have to win.  Whether we did or didn’t practice in the offseason is a moot point right now.  We need to move forward and focus on the next games we play.”

(On getting to know the personnel better during a bye week) - “Typically in the bye week what coaches do is, and I don’t know what is happening in other places but, the players get there time off.  There is some practice going on and then you are able as coaches to sit back and evaluate what you have done to this point and decide how you move forward.  That can be personnel, it could be scheme.  Here is what we’ve done well.  Here is what we need to focus on as we move forward.  Here are some things that have worked for us and other places that aren’t us.  We will put them over there. I think all teams do that and so we will do the same.”

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