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Transcript from news conference with Browns coach Pat Shurmur

By Nate Ulrich Published: December 29, 2011
Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur paces the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Browns 20-17 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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

(Opening statement)- “As we get ready to practice three guys won’t compete today.  Colt (McCoy) is still not clear to participate, Jordan Norwood and then Tony Pashos is battling a stomach illness so he won’t be able to practice today.  All three of those guys, their availability for Sunday I just can’t tell you right now.  That’s what I’ve got.  As we get ready for the Steelers, practice has been good, meetings have been good and we just continue to build on the game plan and get ready to go.”

(On if Artis Hicks will play at right tackle if Pashos can’t to go)- “Yeah, Artis and then Oniel Cousins.  It will be like how we started the season and then you have John Greco in there as well.  One of those three guys would do it.”

(On if McCoy’s concussion is something he’s going to have to worry about going ahead)- “He’s getting better every day and again, every injury is different, every rehab is different. I’m assuming no, but we’ll see when he comes back.”

(On if he has ruled McCoy out for Sunday)- “No, I have not yet.  Nope.”

(On when the cutoff is for ruling McCoy out)- “Typically, you wait and see if they can come back and practice and you evaluate how they looked in practice, we’ll see.  Somewhere before Saturday I would imagine.”

(On what McCoy’s spirits are like when he talks with him)- “He’s been good.  He’s anxious to get back out there and play, but he realizes there’s a process he has to go through. He’s really like any player that wants to compete.”

(On if McCoy is still having headaches)- “He looks fine.  I don’t ask him every moment how he’s feeling so I don’t know if that’s the case or not.”

(On if he’s assuming Ben Roethlisberger will play Sunday)- “I would assume so.  I watched him get hurt in our game, go to the locker room then come out and continue to play.  Then, I watched him against the 49ers go out and play and he’s a tough soul so I imagine he’s going to want to be out there with his team.”

(On if there was anything unique about the play when Roethlisberger got sacked by Scott Paxson and Brian Schaefering)- “He got sacked by a couple of guys and that happens a lot.  You get hit at different levels, you get hit high, you get hit low and you get wrapped up and I think that’s what happened.  Anybody can do it to you and guys are really at risk for injury anytime they’re out there playing, especially quarterbacks in the pocket.”

(On what they have to do differently to get over the hump and beat Pittsburgh)- “Offensively, we need to not turn the ball over and we need to get points and that’s touchdowns when we get down there close then I think the score would have been different.  I think our defense found a way to minimize their scoring and that’s what you want to do on defense so we need to keep fighting to get points on the board.”

(On he thought he was going to be facing this type of challenge offensively when trying implementing his new system)- “I don’t know what I expected.  I expect that when we’re doing things right we’ll score points so we’ve got to do things right more often.  I don’t know if I expected this, I expect that we score enough points to win games however many that means.”

(On if Montario Hardesty hasn’t gotten any carries the last two weeks because of the resurgence of Peyton Hillis)- “As we’ve always talked about, when Peyton Hillis is healthy he’s our starting running back. I think at this point Montario’s coming back from an injury that he had where it limited him for quite a while.  There’s no real reason.”

(On how much he and Tom Heckert have discussed next year’s roster)- “We talk about our players all the time.  We talk about our players daily.”

(On if he expects Hillis to be back next year)- “I think as we look at our roster and we look at building our team I think we need to consider everything.  One thing you’ve seen about Peyton is in the last month or so he’s gotten himself back healthy and he’s performed well.  That’s the Peyton I think that everybody here is used to seeing from a year ago and that’s what I’m starting to see now.”

(On if anything happened this season that would make him not want Hillis back)- “I think those are all conversations for the offseason.  I’ve said it all the way back to the first part of the season, he’s a very fine player that was dealing with injury this year, a couple of them.  It was an illness early and then a hamstring in the middle so I’m sure that was frustrating for him and as he works himself back into a healthy player. Now that he’s healthy, we’re seeing production.”

(On if he and Hillis have a better understanding of each other recently)- “I think as you work with a player, the longer you work with a player the more you get to know him. I mean that in a way that as you go through a season players deal with issues, coaches deal with issues and you just learn how to work together. I think every game that we work together you get to know each other better.”

(On what he would say if Heckert asks him if he wants Hillis back)- “Again, I think it’s important that we investigate everything and again, it’s like our players, Tom’s comments and my comments we’ll keep those private.  We’ve got to have a couple things that everybody doesn’t know about (joking).  Although, you folks do a good job of finding out the answers.”

(On if he would want Phil Dawson back)- “He’s another player that I feel like I’ve gained a strong appreciation for.  What a pro so we’ll see how that plays out.  I’m a Phil Dawson fan.”

(On if he’ll watch Robert Griffin III play tonight)- “Oh yeah, once our day is over and we have the plan in.  I’ll find a way to watch some of that game, I’m sure.”

(On if he’s seen Griffin play this year)- “I’ve watched him.”

(On what he thinks of Griffin)- “He’s a tremendous talent, good player.”

(On if Griffin fits the West Coast)- “Good players at all positions fit every offense.  That’s just the way it works.”

(On if Hardesty can get back to the burst he had when he was at Tennessee)- “I think it’s important that he gets himself back into a healthy state and I think then that’s when we’ll see the things that we think he is as a player.  It’s very important for backs to be able to run with vision, secure the football, catch it when you throw it to them and then there’s also a component of durability that running backs have to possess.  I’ve seen some things this year with Montario, much like a lot of the players that we’ve talked about that I like and as we go forward you’d like to see more of that and see it on a more consistent basis.”

(On Quinton Spears)- “He’ll practice today, he’s cleared, he’s practicing.”

(On when Spears suffered his concussion)- “In the game, I guess, I don’t know.  He’s cleared, he’s practicing.  I don’t know where you’re going with that, but he’s out there practicing, he’s cleared.”

(On Spears’ injury)- “He had a concussion and he’s fine.  He’s good to go.”

(On what Greg Little has proved this year and if he has he proved he will be on an NFL field for years to come)- “I’d like to think he will be.  He’s done some good things this year.  He’s had to deal with what pros have to deal with, learning how this game works, having a good game, dealing with a couple bad games and then coming back.  As he goes through the process, I think next time he goes through the length of the season he’ll even be better. I anticipate he’ll be a fine player in this league for a long time.”

(On Little’s drops early in the season and his take on it)- “I think the more you get comfortable with what you’re doing the actual skills that you need to perform become smoother, the game slows down and then again, it’s in college and in high school, with all due respect, there’s not a lot of defenses that get up in your face and challenge every move you make as a receiver. You see a lot of zone coverage, you see alto of free access.  In pro football, they’re right up on you and I think that takes a little bit of getting use to for a receiver and that may be what you’re talking about.  As you get more and more use to what we’re doing, where you’re supposed to be then I think catching the football then becomes a little bit more natural.”

(On how he would characterize the two rookie defensive linemen and the types of years that they’ve had)- “I think they’ve both been steady.  They’ve played first game to last so far, they’ve both improved, I think that’s very similar. They obviously both play different positions, it’s a little bit easier for a defensive end to flash when he’s doing the right things.  I think Phil’s (Taylor) played a more consistent defensive tackle in the last month and I think that’s what you’re looking for.  I think there are a lot of similarities to their performance, I think there are a lot of similarities to their improvement and I think they both will be well aware of what they need to improve as they move forward.”

(On how he thinks young guys have come through this last month with the proverbial ‘rookie wall’)- “I think they’re all different, but I think the two guys you just mentioned, I think Jabaal (Sheard) and Phil pushed through it pretty well.  I think Greg Little has pushed through it pretty well.  Jason Pinkston has pushed through it pretty well. Those are four that come to mind and those are four guys that have played steadily throughout the year without dealing with any injuries that have kept them out.  Again, that’s a credit to some of our veterans that have educated them on how to take care of their bodies and how to be pros.  I think that’s what you get sometimes from a veteran locker room and it’s a credit to them for listening because a lot of young guys don’t want to listen as we all know.”

(On the improvement of Taylor and the improvement of the run defense going hand-in-hand recently)- “I think it’s important you’re sturdy inside in order to stop the run.  When the linemen come barreling down on the linebackers it makes it difficult.  I think that has something to do with it, sure.”

(On if he’s been encouraged by the run defense the last couple of weeks)- “I’ve seen an improvement and I think that’s what you’re looking for.  A couple games early in the year they took it to us pretty well.  One that still comes to mind is the Houston game.  I think we’ve solidified some things in there and you see some individual performance that’s better and then that contributes to the team effort and I think that’s what you’re looking for because you have to play good team defense to control the run. I think our coaches have done a good job of emphasizing it and our players, the guys that are in there, have done a better job of executing it.  We still can get a lot better, for sure.”

(On Rashard Mendenhall)- “I think he’s a physical style runner.  In their run scheme, they get a lot of double teams and he finds little creases and I think that’s what he does well.  If you over collapse or over commit he does a good job of bouncing it, which now forces your corners to make tackles.  I think he executes their scheme well and he’s a very consistent runner that can pop a big play when given the opportunity.”

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