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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: November 25, 2011

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

(Opening statement)- “I thought the practice was good. The guys came back with a good focus after kind of an abbreviated Thursday, which is typical during Thanksgiving week so practice was good.  In terms of the injuries, Montario (Hardesty) had a great day. He’ll be ready to roll.  Peyton Hills did some good stuff yesterday after practice and he’s made huge progress this week.  He participated throughout practice today and I think at this point, although I ruled him out early in the week, and I’ve said all along these hamstrings come back for some guys quicker than we thought.  I’m going to make him a game-time decision so we’ll just have to see as we move forward.  Again, because he hasn’t played ball in a long time, I think it’s still important that I’m cautious with his return.  Tony Pashos was not here today, his wife’s in labor and he’s there with her so that’s why he wasn’t here.  The rest of the guys competed.  Jayme Mitchell did not practice today his ankle is bothering him so I don’t know what his status will be for the game.”

(On if Usama Young practiced today)- “He practiced throughout.  I think there was a mention that he didn’t do much earlier in the practice, but he was in there throughout.”

(On what it’s like to have three healthy running backs)- “I’m hopeful that we do have three.  I think we’re getting healthier there.  Montario had a good week. Chris (Ogbonnaya), the couple week’s he’s played he’s done a really nice job. Peyton’s getting healthier as well. Thomas Clayton the few reps that he’s been in there, he’s been productive, that’s where we’re at.”

(On if Owen Marecic is out for Sunday)- “No, actually he’s made progress as well. I should’ve mentioned that earlier.  He was not at practice, but he’s making progress to where there’s a chance he could play on Sunday as well, there’s a chance.”

(On if Hillis ran full speed during practice)- “From what I saw he was playing at game speed.”

(On if Hillis would start if he’s active)- “If Hillis is in the game, again, it’s going to be a game-time decision and if he’s available, he will be available because he’s ready to play.  Now, whether he’ll start or not I’ll have to decide that on Sunday.  We have running backs coming back from injury so none of them can handle a full load and I think that’s an important thing to remember.”

(On if Young is still the starter at strong safety)- “Yes.”

(On if it’s a stunning development for him that Hillis has made this recovery)- “Nothing surprises me, I think we’ve crossed that bridge already.  I’m just thankful when we start getting our players that have been nicked up, back.  I think that’s what we’re looking for.”

(On if the way they lost the opener to Cincinnati still stings at all)- “It does because you go back and watch that game as you prepare for this game.  There are some similarities to the way we both play, although we know the second time around the plans change just a little bit.  I think all of the losses sting and of course we’ve talked about this as a year of firsts and that was the first one.”

(On how much better Cincinnati is from Week One to today)- “I think structurally they’re the same.  They’re like us, they’ve dealt with injuries and guys in-and-out. I think they’ve made improvements along the same lines like we have so I’m looking forward to seeing how we match up.”

(On how he would manage playing time for all three backs because running backs need to get into a rhythm)- “They’re each going to get their reps.  The playing themselves into a rhythm thing, I can’t really be concerned about that right now because we have to manage them. They’ll be up and they’ll be in there playing. I think they’re going to have to find a way to get in their rhythm with the plays that they have.”

(On if the three running backs are auditioning for the feature back spot or if it’s the same as it was when the season started)- “I think if our backs are healthy then Hillis is the starter, backed up by Montario, backed up by Obi.  I think that’s what we want and then we’ll just have to adjust it as we move forward from there.  That’s ideal and we’ll see Sunday how much less than ideal we are.”

(On if he still feels Colt McCoy is an ideal fit for the West Coast)- “I think he’s got the skill set to be a good player in this offense and that hasn’t changed a bit.  Again, you try to do the best you can with the players that you have based on their skill set and I think he has the skill set to have success in this offense.”

(On if he has seen that more from McCoy the last couple weeks)- “I think so because he’s made some improvements and I think that’s kind of what you’re looking for.”

(On if McCoy’s strategy has changed while he’s in the pocket in in regards to when he runs)- “I think it’s always part of what you do. You go through your progression and each progression has a time element and a drop and as you go through your progression either no one’s open or you get flushed.  There are times when it’s not a pretty pocket and you have to step up.  If the progression gets distorted then you scramble and get down and get what you can.  I think that’s just all part of when you drop back to throw the football.  When you drop back to throw running is obviously the last resort, but it has to happen in a timely way and I think that’s what he’s getting to.”

(On if McCoy has more leniency to audible or if it’s been the same all season)- “It’s been the same all season long.  There are plays that I call that should be able to go against most anything that happens.  There are other ones where he’s aware that he may have to audible if he sees a look or two. There’s times when I send in a bad one, fix it.”

(On if there’s a possibility Pashos will not play)- “He’ll play.”

(On if he’s spoken with Jayme Mitchell about the frustration he’s showed Wednesday about no longer being the starter)- “No, I guess the questions were regarding that (Emmanuel) Stephen’s is now the starter?  I would expect him to not be happy about that and I haven’t obviously read the comments. I understood that he said some things that would lead us to believe that he’s a little bit frustrated and that’s the reaction you would expect to hear from a guy that’s very competitive.  He and I have spoken, I spoke to him twice today and we spoke yesterday so we’re just working our way through that.”

(On if Mitchell was in a tough spot with Jabaal Sheard expected to be the right end and then switching positions)- “When you’re putting this thing together we’re all trying to do the very best we can, we’re all trying to be very productive and we as coaches based on what we see and what’s happening out there have got to try and make the right decisions for our team based on putting the guys out there we think our going to do the best job at the time they’re out there and tie it all to winning.  That’s what we try to do in terms of making decisions and unfortunately changes are made, guys move up, guys move down and it’s not always easy to handle and I think as adults and professionals we find a way to get through it.”

(On if they included Hillis in their game plan when they put it together on Tuesday)- “Most of the run game that we would get ready to play the Bengals would be a run game that could involve Peyton, as well as Montario, as well Chris Ogbonnaya so it really wasn’t that big of a deal in terms of the run game.  The biggest challenge for a guy coming back from injury is getting the reps in practice and the details of what’s going on as it matches with what the Bengals do.  That’s more of a challenge for him I think.”

(On what last week’s win did for this team)- “I think anytime you win a football game it makes the next week’s preparation, it doesn’t make it any easier, but there’s that special feeling you get when you win. The players just need to be reminded that after 24 hours that your thoughts go to the next opponent, but in the back of your mind the fact that you prove to yourself you can win a football game it gives you confidence. I think teams that have lost games sometimes may fight through, ‘Okay when’s it going to happen?  When are we going to win?’ So when you do it, it gives you confidence.”

(On if he’s spoken with Ogbonnaya about his role knowing Hillis and Hardesty are returning from injury)- “Yeah, we talked.  I wouldn’t say it was along the lines of when they come back.  I think he’s very mature in his approach and he understands that he’s going to take advantage of every opportunity he has as long as the opportunities present themselves.  I think he’s aware that when Montario comes back and when Peyton comes back his role may be diminished some. The good news is we had to diminish his role on special teams when he became primarily a starter so he’s going to be in a position to help our team and I think that’s the kind of can-do attitude that he has.”

(On if Ogbonnaya has surprised him or showed him any new aspects he didn’t see before)- “I think the one thing he has done is he’s had more opportunity here to show what he can do and he’s made great use of it.  We tried to get him to stick in St. Louis and it didn’t happen and we had Steven Jackson so he probably didn’t get as much of an opportunity as he had here with Peyton and Montario out.  I’ve learned something about him, I’ve learned that he can do it and I think that’s reassuring to me when we put him on the field.”

(On what challenges Ogbonnaya presents for defenses)- “I think he’s a steady guy, I think he finds a way to get the yards that are there and he’s actually broken a couple tackles the last couple weeks, he knows where the runs fit and he hits them and I think that’s important.  He has some vision as a runner and then he knows who to block in pass protection and that’s extremely important as it relates to the quarterback in the passing game and I do think he has good hands.”

(On Ogbonnaya’s speed and quickness)- “He’s got good speed and good quickness.  I think he’s got professional speed and quickness.”

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