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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: November 17, 2011

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

(Opening statement)- “There’s nothing really to add from yesterday as I talked about.  Montario (Hardesty), I think you were out there and you had a chance to see him run around and that was about the extent of his day.  He’ll do the same thing today and we’ll just see how he feels and then we’ll make a determination on his availability as we get near the end of the week.  Peyton Hillis, as I mentioned, is out and then T.J. Ward is no change from my comments yesterday.  The rest of the guys all practiced and I felt like Mo (Mohamed Massaquoi) did a nice job in practice.  We weren’t in pads yesterday and he probably won’t do much banging, but he felt good, ran around and looked good.  Everybody else was involved in practice to some degree.”

(On if Hardesty has a chance to play Sunday)- “I think he does.  Again, we’ll know more based on how he progresses today and tomorrow so we’ll see.  I know he’s anxious to get back out there and I think he’s looking forward to being healthy again.  It’s just a matter of when he can do it physically.”

(On taking a cautious approach with bringing Hardesty back)- “I think it’s important that we make sure he’s right before we put him out there.  I think that’s the case with any injury and a running back dealing with a calf strain, I think that’s probably the same.”

(On if Hardesty would be full go if he could play)- “I don’t think he’ll have the number of carries he had in some of the games, but if he’s ready to go we’ll use him.  We’ll try to get him back in the flow.”

(On Dimitri Patterson coming back from injury)- “He looked good yesterday running around.  He actually made a lot of plays.  He finds a way to get his hands on the ball and it was good to see him out there.  I think he felt good after practice, your first day back you are curious as to if there’s soreness that develops. I think he felt good so we’ll get him one day closer.”

(On if Jayme Mitchell being active, but not playing last Sunday)- “Emmanuel (Stephens) came in and did a nice job. We had him and Auston (English) basically in backups roles in case we needed them. Jayme will be up and ready to go.”

(On Phil Taylor maybe leveling off before last week and then having a nice game)- “Phil is one of those young players learning how to be a pro and I think as we approached the middle of the season here, he just needs to be reminded of certain things that coach (Dick) Jauron and I are use to saying.  I thought he played hard and he had some production in there that we expect from him every week.”

(On rookies being up and down and how he can coach them to be more consistent)- “I think you see it more with rookies as they learn how to do this thing and play this level of ball. I think they eventually grow out of it. They’re very talented guys that can be very explosive, they just need to be reminded and encouraged, however we say it, the messages have to get through and you’ve just got to keep repeating it.  He’s a fun guy to be around and work with because he responds and I think that’s a good quality to have is when we remind him of things that he responds.”

(On if there’s a point during the season where a rookie hits the wall and what he can do to help them break through it)- “That’s kind of a common phrase, the ‘rookie wall.’  I’m obviously keeping a close eye on it because we have so many rookies in there competing and playing a lot of snaps.  This is about the time of year and I guess you just have to think about their body clock, this being their first season.  Most colleges are finishing up their season here in the next couple of weeks, some teams are playing their final game Thanksgiving weekend, which will be next weekend.  For those teams and I think almost half the teams now in college football play in bowl games, then they have their finals exams and then they get a little bit of a break, they probably just lift and run, go to school and then when final exams are over then they’ll have maybe a two week or 10-day period where they practice again and then play a bowl game.  That’s not their schedule now for the next six to eight weeks so I think that’s where they need to be reminded and what’s important is that they take care of their bodies, they make sure they get their sleep, they make sure they’re taking care of their weight training keeping their strength up, eating right, living right and all those things and I think those are the reminders that’ll help get them through it.”

(On there not being a gigantic drop off with Usama Young filling in for T.J. Ward last week)- “I don’t know about drop offs.  I would say that those three safeties, Pops (Mike Adams), Usama and T.J., those guys have all gotten, in my opinion, reps like starters. Usama was in there and he did a nice job and he played a good game.  When you have three safeties in there that can do that and Ray (Ventrone) does a good job when he gets his opportunities.  We’re fortunate we had some guys that have been able to step in and play.”

(On Young and Ward having similar strengths against the run)- “They’re very similar in a lot of ways.  They are sturdy guys for safeties and I think they’re both very comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage. We do play a lot where the safeties have to play the half or the quarters so they do that as well.”

(On how far Hillis is away from practicing)- “It’s hard to say right now.  Maybe as soon as next week, I can’t tell you that exactly, but it may be a couple more.  We’ll just have to see how this thing progresses, but I know he’s working extremely hard to get back.  I know he’s really attacking the rehab and keeping his strength up. He’s doing what he can do behind the scenes to get ready.”

(On if Hillis’ hamstring is a pretty nasty injury)- “Again, they’re all different and they respond and they come back from them all in different ways.  I was never fast enough to pull a hamstring so I don’t know how it feels.  You’ve got to be able to run fast to do that so I’m just going on what people say.”

(On if they’re spending any more time on the red zone compared to past weeks)- “I think the red zone issues were, at least recently, last week.  I think a couple weeks we didn’t get down there and then a couple weeks prior to that we’ve been very good.  I’m just getting through everything.  We spend a lot of time on the red zone, probably as much or more than most teams and we’ve just got to make sure when we get down there regardless of what we call we’ve got to execute. I’ve got to make sure I put them in the right positions to do things.  Things happen in the red zone.  At the end of the game we had a philosophy and a strategy, we were going to try and run the football into the end zone and it didn’t work so you kick the field goal.  Prior to that before the half, Greg Little’s long catch, we got the ball down and then we took a penalty where we’re inside the five with a good chance, we had time and timeouts to get the ball in and then we took a penalty, which you can’t do.  That was one situation and then we had one other one where we tried to throw the ball a couple times and then kicked a field goal.  Each situation is different, I think it’s hard to say its one thing or the other and it’s the same way when it pops and you hit on all of them, but we work a lot on them. ”

(On if there is something that’s more important than other things while in the red zone)- “Most teams play differently in the red zone than they do the rest of the field so once you get inside the 20 and for a lot of teams it’s the 15 defensively.  They start to play different types of coverages so you have different types of routes to attack it and then you try to hit them strategically with runs to try and hit them when you think you’re throwing, those types of things.  The strategy changes, we kind of have a touchdown to check down mentality so we try to put guys in the end zone, if they’re open throw it, if not check it down.  Quarterback accuracy is important, you don’t want penalties, you don’t want sacks, all the fundamentals of red zone play with the idea that when you get down in there you’ve penetrated far enough where you feel like you’re going to get a field goal.  Then you do what you can to put the ball in the end zone.  The groups of plays you call are the ones that match what they typically do on defense.  I’ve always felt that Steve (Spagnuolo), they do a nice job defending in the red zone I think the way they do it philosophically is good, but we didn’t execute well enough, that’s all.”

(On if there’s a natural tendency to tighten up offensively when you get in the red zone)- “I don’t think so.  I don’t think tightening up is the way to go.  I do think though obviously the nature of where you’re at the field changes.  They don’t worry so much about defending the post because they’ve got width in the back line so you try to do different things to take advantage of that.  But, no I don’t think there’s a tendency.”

(On if things tend to snowball one way or another)- “In every part of the game.  I think that’s the way it is and you just keep pushing.  There’s no magic formula and we sit behind the scenes and try to make the right decisions and scheme things up the right way and put guys in the best position and then you try and get them to execute.  When things don’t work out it’s probably a mixture of both, typically.  It’s never really one hard fast thing and that accounts for winning and losing. I think what’s there and the thing we can build on around here is the guys are playing fast, they’re practicing fast, their energy is terrific during the week and they’re playing hard first snap to last and I think that’s the foundation of what you want until you get exactly where you want it.  I think that’s what you want.  Guys that are enjoying playing the game, guys that are playing hard and playing fast.”

(On player commenting that even though they lost the game they feel they made progress and if he feels the same way)- “I think you start talking about that as you move away from the game because you go back and you look at what you did and start thinking about what you’re going to do as you move forward. I know each game we’ve played I’ve seen areas of improvement. You’ve just got to finish that statement with another statement that says not enough improvement to win in six instances and I think that’s where you just keep going.”

(On where the greatest gain was last week)- “It’s hard to put my finger on it, I think there are more specifics.  We found a way to make some big plays I think on offense.  I think even though Steven Jackson ran for some yardage, aside from one time defensively when they scored, we kept them out of the end zone.  When you can play well on defense on third down and in the red zone then I think you give yourself a chance.  I was asked a question by the Jacksonville media about rankings and they were asking me to categorize it and I said typically what you look at with teams is rankings are just raw yardage.  That doesn’t always factor in when you look at raw yardage, there are teams that rank high or low in certain areas, but because they are plus in the turnovers or they play well in the red zone or they’re good on third down, they find a way to win and the raw yardage is not maybe in the top half and vice versa.  I think you can see there are some teams that get lots of yards and maybe turn the ball over a lot and you can just look at it, look at the names of the teams and see.  I think that’s a little bit deceiving, but it’s nice when you’re really good moving the football, it helps.  It’s nice when you’re really good stopping then from moving it because then you’ve got something to build.”

(On how he’s dealing with all the criticisms that come his way)- “I think I’m very competitive.  I think as you get through this you get a little bit calloused up to it.  I probably fibbed just a little bit early on when you say you don’t read it or hear it.  Now, I’m not.  I don’t read it, I really don’t.  I just stay away from it because I think what’s important is you keep your focus moving forward. We’ve got very smart coaches and very willing players and we believe in what we’re doing so you push forward.  I understand when people get upset, I understand that.  But, on the other side we’re all competitive so if you don’t like hearing it, try not to listen.  I think that’s how you push through it.  That’s kind of how I do it.”

(On if he’s getting recognized in restaurants now)- “I don’t go to restaurants much. I think more now than in the offseason. We’ll go to places that are familiar.  Jennifer (Shurmur) is an outstanding cook so I have no problem being home.”

(On if he has a positive or negative interaction with Browns fans when he does go out)- “I’m sure there’s a little bit of both.  There are people that are encouraging and then there’s also folks that may be a little bit frustrated.  It’s just part of it.  I think I understand it. I think I do and I appreciate everybody’s passion and I think I get it.”

(On what gives him encouragement with the players that they have that they can do good things in the red zone)- “First off I think there was a handful of plays last week where had we executed them better we’d have got into the end zone. That’s number one.  I think our scheme is sound, I do like our players and we have receivers, tight ends and backs that can do all the right things to get the ball in. It’s just a matter of doing it.”

(On if he’s surprised or disappointed the offense isn’t where he expected it to be this far into the season)- “I don’t know what to think in terms of progress.  I want us to have more victories however we get them and there’s different formulas for that.  We just need to keep working.  I’m not disappointed, I’m not disappointed at all.  Again, we have a bunch of guys that are working at getting better and still learning about one another in a lot of ways.  I think when everybody can get to the point where we’re all mentally on the same page, not so much with what we’re doing, but with what we’re thinking.”

(On if it’s a little tougher than he anticipated it to be)- “No, I wouldn’t say that.  I anticipated there would be some bumps in the road.  I anticipated that.”

(On the team being 0 and 9 on the coin toss this year)- “Really? Wow, I didn’t think of that.  I probably should know that.  0 and 9 really?”

(On the team that wins the coin toss having a slightly higher percentage of winning the game)- “Wins the actually game? Well, then we better win the coin toss (joking).”

(On if there’s any advantage to have the ball at the beginning of the game)- “We did do a study on that when I was back in Philadelphia.  It was one of those long winter weeks I guess so we’re deciding what to do and we did a study. I don’t know how they got the information, but it was so meaningless, the difference about whether you have the ball first to start the game or first to start the second half whether you win the game or not.  I do know statistically you always talk about winning the fourth quarter, it’s very, very important.  But, statistically if you can get ahead in the game that’s where you give yourself a better chance, statistically.”

(On they would take the ball if they ever won a coin toss)- “Oh yeah.  Sure, absolutely.”

(On if they need to practice the coin toss)- “We’ll have a meeting about the coin toss (joking). I don’t think we are going to do that. ”

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