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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: November 16, 2011
Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur calls a play in an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

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

(Opening statement)- “Let’s first start with the guys that will be out of practice today.  Montario Hardesty will be out of practice although he’s doing some running. I’m not ruling him out for the weekend, there’s a chance he could be there.  Peyton Hillis is out this week. He’s continuing with his rehab, we’ll see how he does.  T.J. Ward had his cast removed.  What we found is that he’s progressing well, he went back in another cast and that the point we take him out of the cast here soon, he’ll go to a walking boot and then keep continuing to improve.  What we found when we took the cast off was that he’ll be back.  Mo (Mohamed Massaquoi) will be out at practice today, his symptoms have dissipated so he’ll be out there practicing. Everybody else will be limited in some fashion, Auston English, Jayme Mitchell, (Tony) Pashos, (Dimitri) Patterson, those are probably the names of note.”

(On what the final diagnosis on Ward is)- “He’s got a sprained foot.”

(On what kind of back Maurice Jones-Drew is compared to the other backs they’ve faced this season)- “He’s an outstanding back, he’s been an outstanding back in this league for a lot of years.  He’s very hard to tackle, he’s a very explosive runner and he accounts for a lot of what they do on offense.  They’re trying to develop a young quarterback and he means a lot to that team.  The focus of our defense, of course, will be to make sure we limit his production.”

(On how he can prevent that fact that the team hasn’t scored a home field touchdown in a while from messing with the team’s confidence)- “Score touchdowns.  I don’t worry about that.  You just keep working to get better.  These guys don’t have a problem with confidence. We’ve just have to go out and get it done.”

(On if he expected a bigger impact out of the tight ends during the regular season)- “They’re still getting their production.  It’s about what I thought.  I knew they’d get their production.  I also felt like it’s important that you throw the ball to the receivers.  If you look at differences in years, maybe that’s the case.  We’re getting a lot of production right now out of Greg Little and we’re trying to get some production out of Josh Cribbs, Jordan Norwood and Mo when he’s in there.”

(On if defenses try to take one specific thing away from them)- “I don’t know if they’re taking anything specific away.  We have a bunch of players that need to touch the football and we need to spread the ball around. I think that’s what we need to do at this point.”

(On the decision to play Jordan Cameron more over the last couple weeks)- “Him being up was because we had injuries at other positions.  We were short on healthy scratches so he ended up playing and he helps on special teams and since he was up we tried to get him some reps.”

(On if his film review showed that the trick play against the Rams was illegal)- “I was made aware of that (report).  We knew it when we watched it.  We practiced the play, the first exchange between Josh and Seneca (Wallace) was practiced as a handoff.  Three times last week we handed it off and in the game it got flipped.  That’s a rule, we know the rule.”

(On if he received a call from the NFL saying that got away with one)- “No, I’m sure just like when we send in things, I send in plays every week and I get back yes’s and no’s every week.  I just keep them from you and that got out, I don’t know.  But, that kind of stuff happens all the time.”

(On if he realized what happened and if he hoped they didn’t challenge the play)- “I was well aware of what happened and I know the rules.  The first exchange was practiced as a handoff and the second one was a flip.”

(On how he would chart the progress of the offensive line specifically the guards)- “I think last week we played better, the offensive line as a unit. There’s been improvement there.  I think it helps when they can all play together all week long and that hasn’t been the case every week and I think they’re improving.”

(On Jason Pinkston being a tackle in college and moving to guard)- “We drafted him with the idea the he could play guard and tackle.  We felt even though he played tackle in college that he would be a fine NFL guard.”

(On what kind of growth he has seen in Greg Little both on and off the field)- “I think Greg’s got great skill and ability, that’s why we drafted him.  Part of what he needed to learn is how to be a pro, all rookies do.  He was a guy who was pushed into the starting lineup pretty early and he’s playing a position where you have to make plays.  Prior to this year, I’m sure he did a lot just on his sheer ability, but you have to learn how to be a pro from how you take care of your body to how you study to how you approach each week and I think he’s made big improvements in all those areas.”

(On if he’s still having talks with Little)- “Yeah, we work with Greg every day just like all the players.”

(On what he sees in Blaine Gabbert and why he’s been slower to pick it up than Andy Dalton or Cam Newton)- “I’ve studied him and I’ve watched him.  I know he’s a very talented quarterback, I knew a lot about him being in the region the last couple years. He actually played high school ball real close to where I lived in St. Louis so I knew a lot about him and he’s very talented.  I’m sure there’s a learning curve for him as far as learning their offense.  He didn’t have an offseason and he came in and now he’s pushed into a starting role, trying to move the football for that team.  I would imagine he’s going through a lot of the same things that a lot of quarterbacks go through and I’m sure he’s experiencing some of the things during the season now which he would have benefitted from an offseason doing.  I’m not surprised by anything that I see with a young player this first year, especially first-year guys.”

(On if the Browns made any effort to bring back Matt Roth)- “We’ll keep all those discussion behind the scenes.”

(On what he’s seen from of Roth this year)- “He’s done a good job for them.  He’s a very explosive guy, gets off on the snap, plays extremely hard and he’s doing a good job for them.”

(On if Roth fits in a 4-3 defense)- “He’s playing a defensive end, he fits for them. He’s doing a good job.”

(On how much the weather plays a factor with game planning as they move forward)- “You always look at the weather and the conditions in terms of it may adjust how you call some things. I felt like wind was a condition that needed to be accounted for last week.  It was very windy and I thought Colt threw the ball well in the wind. You always factor in what the weather conditions are and it may change a call or two, may change where you kick, how you kick, what direction you kick, those types of things.”

(On if McCoy lacking a cannon arm and his ability to cut the ball through the wind)- “I don’t know what he lacks, but I thought he threw the ball through the wind last week very well.”

(On if Chris Ogbonnaya has pleasantly surprised him)- “Yeah, he has surprised me.  He had a very productive day Sunday, it was his best game. He pulled out of it relatively healthy so I’m anticipating that he’ll continue to improve and our thoughts are that we’ll get another good game out of him this week.”

(On how the 2011 draft class is playing as a group)- “I think they’re improving and I think they’re really benefitting from all this front line playing time.  A lot of them are playing on offense or defense and not just special teams so I think that’ll help them as they go forward into year two and really as we finish year one.  Just like we talked about Greg Little a little while ago, they’re all going through that same process.  As you get into games 10-16 and beyond, that’s a little bit uncharted for these rookies.  They play 10 or 11 games and then they take final exams, they have a couple weeks of practice and play a bowl game so that’s where we’ve got to keep a real close eye on them and how they’re doing at the end of the year.”

(On if through nine games he thinks the current roster needs overhauled or if they would just need to add to it a bit going forward)- “I think it’s fair to say that we’ll have some roster changes in the offseason.  When you relate that to the rookies that are playing, we’re going to try to keep them around.  I think the guys that we have in their playing, we feel very good about and we want to see them improve through the end of this year, help us win games.  We will have an offseason next year where they can continue to improve and then hopefully be more suited to play there year two.  Again, we feel like it’s very important to build this thing through the draft.  That’s why it’s important I think once you hit on good rookie players to then develop them and keep them here.  That’s what our thoughts are.  Now if all of them will stick, I can’t say that.  There are a lot of uncontrollable variables that each player runs into, could be injury or what have you.  Our idea is to draft good players, play them, develop them and then keep them around.  That’s what we’re trying to do.”

(On deciding if the second, third and fourth year guys fit his system and what they want to do)- “We’ve already started that process with all these midseason or early season signings.  We’ve made determinations on guys that we want to try to keep around.  We’ll constantly go through that process.  Yeah, every player is getting evaluated.  Everybody does a fine job of evaluating me, coaches are evaluated, players are evaluated. You constantly do that as you go through this and you quality control everything from how you do business, to how the players play to the relationships between the coaches and players and everything involved.  We’re constantly looking at those things.”

(On if he still wants to get the entire roster younger)- “I think we want to get better and we’ll use every avenue to get better, whether it’s the draft, the right guys in free agency.  I think that’s where we want to get better. I think it’s safe to say the roster was very experienced a year ago.  I’m not sure I said we want to get younger, but that would be the natural assumption when you draft and play the guys that we have.  We’re trying to make the roster better.  We have an underlining philosophy that it’s important to draft players that you’re going to keep around and develop.  Typically, the drafted are younger than the free agents.  But, that does not mean that we’re not going to go after some free agents that fit and would be meaningful additions to this team.  We believe in that as well.”

(On if it’s been a tough to evaluate and build the young talent while also trying to win along the way)- “Not really, I think once you set your roster the players you have are the players you have.  I’ve always said this, they are pro players.  You put them on the field and trust them to do their job.  Then you just try to make the right decisions as you move forward to win games.  I don’t worry about it.  Like anybody, I’m impatient when the results aren’t the way you want them.”

(On if they will be a more aggressive in free agency this year)- “It’s probably a little early to say that right now.  We have a good feel for what our roster is and the changes we need to make.  I think every team does that. You’re constantly thinking about it and how you can make your team better.”

(On waiving Brian Robiskie and signing Thomas Clayton)- “That was an injury.  That was because we needed to.”

(On what happened with Brian Robiskie this year)- “He was given the opportunity.  At the time when you have injuries at a specific position, going back to when we signed Thomas and cut Brian, you don’t want to cut anybody.  You really don’t.  We needed to sign a runner.  We just kind of made a decision that was the direction we had to go.  There was nothing against Brian, we just had to make that call and I wouldn’t say it was anything specific.”

(On what it would mean to his play calling to have Massaquoi and Hardesty back on Sunday)- “I think if you have more of what you started out the season as your front line players, I think it helps. That doesn’t mean that the guys are in there aren’t charged with being productive.  I want all of our players to be healthy.  I like to be able to say we have seven healthy scratches each week.  I think that’s what you want.  I don’t think any team is there right now, but that’s what we’re fighting for.”

(On if his play calling is limited when he doesn’t have his front line guys)- “We’re trying to do what we can to win games.”

(On how disappointing it was to release Robiskie when at one point he was the starting receiver)- “That was the first time we had to do that this season, cut a healthy player because of the position.  I didn’t want to cut Brian.  The message got to him that we wish him well and we appreciate his efforts.  That’s kind of what happens.  That’s the part of this business.  There’s the game and then there’s the business behind it and these are all things that you go through.”

(On if Hardesty would be the feature back if he returns this week)- “I think what we’ve got to find out is how he does this week in practice.  I’m not going to make any predictions.  The two guys I know that are out are Hillis and Ward.  We’ll just see how Montario handles this week of practice when he does get in there and see what and how much he can do.”


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