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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: November 23, 2011

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

(Opening statement)- “In terms of injury information of note, Montario (Hardesty) will practice today and Owen Marecic won’t.  He’s still feeling some of the effects of his concussion so he won’t be out there.  The rest of the guys if you have interest I’ll let you know.  Other than that that’s where we’re at.  The walk-through was good.  Unfortunately, we got so much rain, I don’t like to go inside if we don’t have to, but the fields are pretty soggy so we’ll stay inside.”

(On if likes that five of the six remaining games are divisional games)- “We’re going to find out how good we are because we know how competitive our division is. It’s been well documented how good the teams in this division are so in the next few weeks we’re going to find out where we’re at. I’m looking forward to the challenge.  When the schedule comes out, people outside the building probably say tough schedule, light schedule, boy this is a tough stretch.  We really do take a one week at a time approach and it just so happens I think we have three games in 15 days.  I might be wrong there a little bit, but it’s pretty close so that’s just the way it is and then you go and play them out.  If you’re in the profession long enough, you coach enough years, it all balances itself out.  We obviously know how good our next opponent is, the Bengals having played them the first time and I think in a lot of ways both teams are the same, but there’s a whole lot of improvement that’s been made by both teams so we’ll see how it matches up.”

(On if he addresses the team about the end of the schedule and that five out of six are division opponents)- “I think that’s a dangerous trap and I know it may be in the head coach’s hand book, but I really do believe in that you take it one game at a time and you never know how it’s going to play out.  You might look at a season and say boy these are teams we’re going to beat and these ones, no, you can’t do that.  You put your best foot forward, you put your healthy guys out there and you go after each game one at a time.  Again, it’s probably cliché then you add them up at the end and I think that’s where we’re at.  It just so happens that we’re playing five of our six division opponents here in a short stretch.”

(On who would start at tailback if Hardesty can play)- “If Montario can go he’ll start, but you’ll see Chris Ogbonnaya in there quite a bit.”

(On if they throw out their fullback package if Marecic is out)- “No, we don’t.  We have guys that will fill that position so we can call two-back type plays.  We have a pretty good stable of tight ends that are used to playing in the backfield so that could be the case.”

(On how much of an improvement the offensive line has had over the last few weeks and how much of that is attributed to Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston)- “I think young guys who are learning how to play make greater improvements then say older guys that have gotten to the point where they’re pretty good players. I think some of that’s true and they’re really benefitting from a lot of playing time.  At the end of the year when they look back on this season, we all kind of take inventory when the season is over, they’re going to look back and say, ‘Wow, that was a little more than I expected.’  I’m sure Pinkston will, he may not admit it, but he comes here thinking he’s going to develop and he’s in there playing and that’s fine, that’s good because that’s what you want.  You want guys that are going to get in there, be good players, improve and then hopefully have long productive careers.”

(On if Jayme Mitchell was not able to adapt when switching defensive end spots)- “I don’t think so, I don’t think it would be because of the move although Jayme, of course, had played most of his career on the other side.  Jayme’s done a good job for us and he battled back from injury a week ago.  We just felt like with Jabaal, there was a marked difference in his play on one side and I think when you factor it all together that’s part of the reason we did it.  Not part of it, but really the driving force.”

(On why Emmanuel Stephens is now starting at right defensive end)- “We felt like he’s been productive and again, it was a coach’s choice to start Stephens. Much like a lot of positions, especially at the defensive line, all those guys will be in there playing, but we will start Stephens like I mentioned on Monday.”

(On if Mitchell graded better at left end than at right end)- “We’ll hold the grades on that, but he got in there and did a good. You can expect to see him probably playing on both sides at some point during the game.”

(On Mitchell being a little grumpy to reporters last week and if that was related to the pending move)- “I don’t know.  I didn’t see the questions.”

(On if there’s been an attitude difference in Mitchell)- “No, he’s been great with me.  I talked to him last week quite a bit and he’s been great.  He was grumpy, huh (joking)?”

(On if the NFL could do more with technology to review field goals so that there are not just two guys standing under the goal posts)- “Like a light in hockey? Maybe?  I don’t know.  If it was good I sure wish it would have been said good, but I don’t know.  I think guys standing under the uprights, that’s probably the closest you can get to being right or wrong.  The ability to challenge it if it goes below the flags, I think that’s good.  I don’t know, that’s probably something for me to sit down and really think about maybe in the offseason. I do believe my kicker and he felt like it was good, but on the other hand they called it no good so you move on.”

(On if there have been times where field goals looked good and it wasn’t or vice versa)- “This year is the first extremely close one we’ve had to deal with.  I think there have been times in probably all levels of ball where there’s been some argument, I think that’s part of it.  It’s a human game officiated by humans. I think the league is the same way, we make an attempt to get things right and it might get looked at. I don’t know.”

(On what he thinks about Andy Dalton up to this point)- “I think he’s probably about where they maybe thought he’d be.  I think he’s doing a very good job.  When you look at a young quarterback, I mentioned it I think Monday, I think they’re doing what fits for their team. They’re very good at running the football, they’re very physical upfront, they’ve got some outstanding playmakers and they’ve got a young quarterback they’re developing.  They keep him out of harms way in some ways because they can run the football and they don’t ask him to do a lot of very heroic things, but you can see his playmaking abilities show up in the stuff they’re asking him to do and I think that’s a credit to them.  I think he’s developed well, regardless of his year, he’s having probably one of the finer years for quarterbacks.”

(On how he will split up the playing time among the receivers)- “We have packages that we will utilize all of them whether we’re in three receiver sets, two receiver sets.  We have a way to get them on the field and play different spots and then we practice the plays that way and then we get them in there.  We try to get them to run the routes we feel like they’re good at and so it’s part of what we do.  That’s some of the things we do while we’re here most of the day.”

(On Joshua Cribbs having three touchdowns in the last four weeks and if he’s just getting better or if it’s his play making shining through)- “I think he’s getting better just like everybody. He is getting better.  This is a new system for him.  We’re really trying to demand detail from him in his route running and really everything he does.  I think he’d be the first one to tell you that he’s made some mistakes this year that may have hurt us, but he’s also found a way to help us and make some plays.  That’s just what we try to keep working on.”

(On what Jordan Norwood did to earn his spot in the receiver rotation)- “I think you’re starting to see some of the things he does well.  He finds a way to get open, he can separate in a short area, he’s got quickness and just watching the guy work. He was able to play because of injury and he showed up well.  When that happens then you try to keep him going.”

(On how critical these next six weeks for McCoy and what they’re expecting out of him)- “I’m looking for him to lead the charge for our team in terms of, I’ll keep going back to it, let’s show improvement and win the game.  Show improvement and win the game and I think that’s what we’re looking for as we go forward.  I’m trying not to, I have to think about things that I don’t talk about, but the way I look at it, we’re 4-6 and we’re trying to win this game as we push into the second half of this season beyond January 1 and then hopefully beyond that this year. Hopefully we get on a roll here and then we can do something beyond January 1, that’s what we’re focusing on.  Then, when somebody say’s you’re done playing then we change gears and start thinking about what coaches do in the offseason and as you make decisions for the next season.  I’m really trying to be narrow minded in terms of its one game at a time and we’re going to try and put all our efforts into beating the Bengals and Colt is no different.”

(On what the difference is for him comfort wise going into this game as compared to going into Week One in his first game as a head coach and maybe feeling like the world is closing in on him)- “I feel like I’m 10 games better in my own mind.  There are things I’ve learned through this season.  I think our team is 10 games better and from that standpoint that’s about where I’ll leave my evaluation of it.  I don’t feel like the world is closing in around me, I really don’t.”

(On comparing this game to the opener)- “As you do things more and more and you get used to the rhythm of it, I think it get smoother.  Just like anything, the second time through it you kind of know what to expect a little bit more and you know where to put your mental energy.  Maybe that’s something.”

(On the development of A.J. Green over the season)- “He’s done a terrific job and that’s no surprise.  We thought he was an outstanding player when we evaluated him this year. We’re not surprised by it and when the Bengals picked him we we’re like, ‘Darn, we’ve got to see him twice a year.’  That was kind of what we thought and he’s proven us right, but like most pros, part of the process of being a pro is fighting back from injury, which I’m sure he’s trying to race back and help his team.  That’s something that he’s dealing with. We’re watching the reports of course, but I don’t know of his availability yet for Sunday.”

(On if he can quantify how having a rookie quarterback and a rookie receiver helps each other grow together)- “I guess we have a situation here.  We have a semi-rookie quarterback and a rookie receiver and I see how their interaction is and I’m sure it’s the same there.  They’re getting used to playing quarterback and receiver in this league, they’re getting used to one another, they’re getting used to everything and I assume, because I see it happening here, that they’ll develop kind of a special bond because of that.  Because they’re going through it together for the first time.”

(On if Hardesty will participate in team drills today)- “He’ll practice today.  He’ll be out there.”

(On if Hardesty will do more this week then he did last week)- “Oh yeah, he’ll be out there.  He’ll practice.”

(On what makes the Bengals’ run defense so challenging)- “The scheme number one, but they’ve got some outstanding players.  I think they’re a very good defense for a reason.  Their scheme is outstanding, they’re very solid against the run, they make a commitment to stop the run and then when they know you’re going to pass it they try to get pressure on the quarterback.  To me that makes for a good defense and when they get matched up one-on-one whether it’s the rusher on the blocker or the cover man on the receiver, they can hold their own and I think that’s why they’re good.”

(On what kind of comfort level he has when he’s preparing for a team with an aggressive pass rush)- “I don’t know about a comfort level.  Like I said, each week I see a defense that’s playing better and better.  I haven’t found one yet.  This is Week 11 where we’re playing a team that’s got a good defense.  You’re usually not as you get ready for a game.  The only thing comforting is we generally know how they’re going to line up.  They’re good players and we’ve got to block them and when we run our routes, we’ve got to defeat them.  There’s a reason they’re a good defense for all the reasons I just mentioned.”

(On if McCoy’s shoulder is still sore and if he’ll be limited at all during practice)- “I don’t know if it’s sore or not, but he’s going to do everything in practice today and he seemed energetic.  The throws I watched him make already today looked normal.  He’s ready to roll.”

(On if in terms of quality and balance, is the AFC North is the best division in the NFL)- “It’s hard to say, it’s a real good one though. It’s a real good one for a lot of reasons.  It’s a physical brand of football, you’re looking at teams in the division that all have, I’d like to say outstanding quarterbacks. You’re looking at teams that are all way up in there in the rankings in terms of how they play defense. You’re looking at teams that historically have won lots of games. I think for those reasons, it’s fun.  I’m looking forward to the game, I really am.  I’m proud of the way our guys have fought.  I think in some areas we’re starting to get healthier than we’ve been in the last four to six weeks so let’s go do it.”

(Closing statement)- “Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Enjoy your day.”

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