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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: October 13, 2011

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

(Opening statement)- “Good afternoon.  Injuries of note, again, I have nothing to add.  Joe Haden and Alex Mack are both making progress.  Just like I said yesterday, it’s too early to speculate on whether they’ll play or not.  Other than that most everybody will be out there participating all of the practice or at least some of it.  Other than that we’re going to work on crowd noise today like we do on Thursdays and Fridays when we play a road game.”

(On if Mack or Haden will attempt to practice today)- “Alex has been out there watching.  He hasn’t been able to do anything yet.  Joe has been better getting his rehab and such inside.  I don’t think there will be any change from yesterday.”

(On what thinking went into deciding to use Buster Skrine as the third cornerback if Haden can’t play)- “He’s a guy that’s played already, we’ve had guys in-and-out of the game at times so right now he’s our fourth corner that would become our third corner.  That’s typically what happens in an injury situation.”

(On Al Davis making surprising picks in the draft and how he would compare him and Tom Heckert)- “I guess I would have had to do a little bit of research on this.  The one pick that comes to mind is Sebastian Janikowski.  You typically don’t pick kickers as high, but he’s a tremendous player and has been so for them for a long, long time.  Beyond that it would be unfair for me to sit here, I don’t want to be making stuff up.  I know Mr. Davis was a great football man from the personnel, the coaching, the administration of the team and so he had reasons for doing what he did in terms of picking players he felt would best fit his team.  Whether it was unconventional or not, I don’t know.  I think he understood how to evaluate talent and he picked players that he liked and I think that’s something we all try and do and I’m sure Tom’s the same way.”

(On if he spent time in the draft room with Heckert while he was in Philadelphia)- “I sure was.”

(On how he would characterize Heckert’s drafting)- “I think when you go through the draft process we all evaluate the players and how we like them and there’s no huge surprises when a player is picked.  I would consider Tom to be very thorough.  I think Tom knows what a player looks like, he knows how to place a value on a player and then he knows how to understand what the team needs.  When you go about picking a player that you’re going to add to your roster, you factor all those things in.  I think he does an excellent job, evidence by the players that he’s picked in the recent years here and then obviously his track record in Philadelphia.”

(On Buster Skrine making contributions this week after coming from a small school and being a low draft pick)- “We’ve got a lot of young players making quick progress, but I would say in the case of Buster, again, he was evaluated by our personnel department headed up by Tom.  I call them Tom and the Johns, (John) Spytek and (Jon) Sandusky. They do an excellent job of evaluating talent.  He was a guy that we liked and we went out and we drafted him.  He’s come in and been everything we thought he would be. He’s good in coverage, he’s a very gritty player, he likes it and he challenges.  I think those are reasons why he’s showing up.”

(On if he’s been around a team that has had so many rookies in prominent roles and what challenges that presents as a coach)- “I’ve never been around this many rookies either starting or contributing in a big way.  As far as challenges as a coach, it’s fun because everything they’re going through, even if they’ve done it before at the college level, it’s all new to them.  Most young players are very eager, their legs are fresh and we picked them for the reasons that they can play in this league.  The challenge is to just keep working with them and if they don’t get it the first time you tell them again.  If they screw it up the second time, you tell them again.  For all players, you hope their level of knowledge of the game, their experience in the game and their talent all takes them to a point where they’re producing.”

(On rookie not having seen everything before)- “You really have to have a low tolerance for mistakes regardless of whether they’re veterans or rookies, but quietly in the privacy of our offices, I think we have that meeting.”

(On how the guards have done the first four weeks of the season and if their job gets tougher if Alex Mack isn’t able to go Sunday)- “When you lose your center, he kind of directs things.  I feel good if Alex can’t go, I think (Steve) Vallos will do a fine job.  He’s played a lot of football and I really like him as a center.  I think he’ll help, he’ll do fine.  But, the young guards as the performed the first quarter of the year, I think they’ve had performances that were good.  They’ve each kind of played better than the other in games that we’ve played, but I’ve seen steady improvement from (Jason) Pinkston as a rookie.  I think Shawn Lauvao is obviously a very young player as well and he had I think his best game last week.  He had a really nice training camp and I think he’s made improvements as well.  I feel good about where they’re going and I think they would tell you that they are looking for improvement.”

(On if Haden or Mack could still play even if they don’t practice)- “I think each player is different in terms of returning from injury, in my opinion.  It’s always best if they practice and some coaches have a hard and fast rule about if they’re not there on Friday then they can’t play.  I think both those guys are different and I’ll kind of hold until we decide if they can or can’t play.  There’s a chance if they don’t play on Friday they could still play in the game, I would say that.”

(On how good Oakland’s defensive front is)- “I think their front four, obviously the two inside guys are doing a heck of a job, (Tommy) Kelly, obviously (Richard) Seymour and (John) Henderson.  They’ve got some big guys in there and you’re starting to see a lot of production from the inside guys.  The outside guys are playing steady and then I think the linebackers, they’re very talented players.  (Rolando) McClain is a big, physical guy and I think it’s a very good front, I really do and I think they’re very talented.  I think they’re going to get better on defense statistically although I’m not a big one on that because when I look at the tape I’ve always kind of felt they’ve been good.  But, they’re big, sturdy, physical guys and I think that’s a good starting point.”

(On the matchup between their run and Oakland front)- “I think it’s important you always go into the game trying to run the ball someway either inside, outside, off tackle or attack the perimeter and we have all those types of plays. I think we’re going to have to do that against this front, we can’t just say we’re going to run left off tackle.  I think we’re going to have to attack the whole front and run right at them at times and make them chase at times.  I think that’ll be the challenge and then because their defensive tackles are playing at such a high level and they’re a four man front that’s our matchup with our guards.  I think those guys have to show up and play well.”

(On if Jason Campbell reminds him of any quarterback they’ve face so far and how would he breakdown his style of play)- “I’ve known Jason for a very long time from our years in Philadelphia and when he was at Washington, and then I’ve kind of watched him as he’s moved on to the Raiders.  I think what he’s doing very well is he’s executing within their scheme and it appears to me that a lot was made of his progress coming through college, through the NFL and how many offensive coordinators he ha,; how he didn’t get a chance to settle in.  This may be, without knowing specifics, one of the only times in his career where he’s basically got the same play caller two years in a row.  I think that’s where you’re starting to see with Hue (Jackson) being the coordinator and the play caller last year and him as the head coach calling the plays this year, I think that’s probably helping Jason because I’ve always felt like he’s a big pretty thrower.  He can throw the football, he can see and he’s had times in his career when he’s been very efficient. I think some of that is all coming together for him.”

(On how much of a difference it makes to call the plays for a quarterback for a couple of years in a row and where is he with calling plays with Colt McCoy)- “We’re four games into it, they’re one season and four games. I think it’s like anything when you have two people communicating, the longer you do it, the more you can become on the same page.  It’s like being at home, early on in our marriage I’m sure I had to spell it out what I was thinking.  Now, it might be one of these or one of those and then you know.  I think it’s the same thing when you have a coach and a player or players communicating.  The longer you’re together the better it is.”

(On if that time together helps you figure out what a guy can do)- “What the guy can do, what the coach is trying to say, when a play comes in what he’s thinking this play should look like, when he calls the play he either knows you like it or don’t like it or I can anticipate when I call a play where I think the balls going to go, those types of things.”

(On if he has an update on Marcus Benard)- “No update, my understanding is he’ll be out of the hospital today at some point.  Other than that I have nothing else.”

(On if he senses that some guys are a little shaken with Bernard’s accident)- “I think it’s a reminder.  It’s a real life reminder that risky behavior can’t happen.  It’s like anything in life and you can call it whatever you want, it wasn’t a good event. It wasn’t something that you want to have but you sit back and say, ‘Wow, if it can happen to him it can happen to me.’  I think maybe that’s what you’re referring to as, ‘shaken.’  It makes you sit back and say, ‘Wow, can’t do that.’”

(On if Oakland is more vulnerable against the wide run and if so would that lead more to Montario Hardesty and how comfortable is he running Peyton Hillis wide)- “I think the natural reaction is because the two defensive tackles are playing so well is you run away from them.  I think that’s what is making people assume.  I think you have to attack them everywhere in this front and Peyton Hillis is going to get the bulk of the carries, I can just tell you that.”

(On if it helps seeing the same film on a team playing the Houston Texans)- “Yeah it is, that’s good point.  Typically, as you follow a team there’s certain teams you tend to follow when you watch the matchup of the tape.  Yeah, in some ways because you get to see the way a team tries to attack teams. I think from my standpoint watching on offense watching the team’s defenses, I think Houston does a nice job on offense.  It’s good to see how they try to attack them.”

(On if he is looking forward to getting Evan Moore and Greg Little more involved and what good it can do for the offense)- “I’m hoping with that more settled that we’re going to get an improvement.  How much of an improvement, it’s hard to say.  You make changes with the idea that it’s going to be for the good and the challenge is for the guys that are getting more of an opportunity to dig in and make it happen.  That’s the message to the guys that are getting more of a shot.  ‘Okay here we go, make it happen.’”

(On if the organization has made the decision to pay Benard for the remainder of his contract)- “I will say this, that’s a non-football injury we’re dealing with right now and those are organizational and its contract related.  I’m going to defer and not comment on that and there are reasons for it.  There are rules about commenting publicly on non-football injuries and I’m a little bit guarded at times, I don’t want to cross the line on this one.”

(On if Darren McFadden is like any other running back in the league and what he thinks about him)- “It’s hard to find something he’s not good at.  When you start listing the best running backs in the league and how they’re playing at this time of the season, it’s hard not to include him in your top five.  I think he’s outstanding and I know when you watch the tape of them on offense and you see the ball go to him, whether they hand it to him or throw it to him, now you’re waiting to say now what and I think that’s the kind of runner he is.  When you have a runner that when you put the ball in his hands he can change the game by scoring on any play then I think you’ve got to put that guy in.  He’s playing at high level right now and he’s healthy, he’s big, he’s fast, where he ranks I don’t know but he’s very good, very good.”

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