BEREA: Browns coach Pat Shurmur knows what his team must do to restore its confidence after being thrashed by the Houston Texans.
“I’m a very impatient guy in a lot of ways,” Shurmur said Monday. “But I do know this: Win — that’s how you stop any negative momentum in this league.”
But bouncing back and ending a two-game losing streak could be easier said than done for the Browns (3-5).
After all, they’re battered.
Running back Peyton Hillis has been ruled out for the Browns’ home game Sunday against Shurmur’s former team, the St. Louis Rams (1-7). Hillis will miss his fourth consecutive game and his fifth of the season. He pulled his left hamstring Oct. 16 against the Oakland Raiders and aggravated it Friday during practice.
Running back Montario Hardesty will “most likely” be out, too, Shurmur said. Hardesty tore a calf muscle in his right leg Oct. 30 against the San Francisco 49ers and was inactive Sunday.
Several other players are injured after their encounter with the Texans, who crushed the Browns 30-12.
Quarterback Colt McCoy walked through the team’s locker room Monday with both knees wrapped in bandages. On Sunday, he took four sacks and eight hits, including a vicious blow in the fourth quarter from rookie linebacker Brooks Reed.
Strong safety T.J. Ward sprained his right foot and left Reliant Stadium in a walking boot. Ward, who also dislocated his left index finger, was scheduled to have an MRI on his foot Monday, although Shurmur said he didn’t have an update about Ward’s status.
Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi left the team’s training facility Monday and went home, Shurmur said. Massaquoi didn’t play in the fourth quarter against the Texans because “he was feeling woozy” during his first game since he suffered a concussion Oct. 23 against the Seattle Seahawks. Shurmur said Massaquoi didn’t absorb a specific hit Sunday that exacerbated his symptoms.
“We’re very strict with that protocol when it involves concussion situations, and there is no wiggle room,” Shurmur said. “We follow the guidelines as to when a player can be back. He was able to compete, he practiced, he followed all the guidelines and standards. … He got in the game. He competed for a while, and then he got woozy, so he came out.”
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (knee), offensive right tackle Tony Pashos (knee and ankle), safety Usama Young (hip), linebacker Kaluka Maiava (knee), punter Brad Maynard (leg) and defensive end Auston English (knee) are others dealing with injuries.
But perhaps losing their top two running backs, Hillis and Hardesty, has affected the Browns the most. Chris Ogbonnaya and Thomas Clayton had a combined 18 carries for 38 yards (2.1 average) against the Texans (6-3). They also struggled to adequately protect McCoy in pass protection.
When asked if the organization has talked about placing Hillis on injured reserve, Shurmur said, “We want him to get healthy. We talked about him this morning like the players that we talked about that were injured [Sunday]. Our conversation about Peyton was, ‘OK. Where do we proceed to get him back as quickly as possible? So that’s where we’re at.’ ”
Will fences between Hillis and his teammates be able to be mended after Yahoo! Sports reported last week that a group of Browns veterans held a meeting with Hillis to express their concerns about his recent behavior?
“Peyton’s out this week, and he’s gonna be rehabbing that hamstring,” Shurmur said. “And our players in that locker room will treat this like any player that can’t play, and that’s the way it is. And when he’s healthy to come back and play, he’ll be embraced.”
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita said he doesn’t think “there’s any fences to be mended” between Hillis and the rest of the locker room. Hillis needs to focus on getting healthy, and the team must concentrate on redeeming itself, Fujita said.
“I think the onus is on the guys who have played this game for a while to come in and set an example Wednesday on the first work day back to get ready for the Rams,” Fujita said. “There’s gonna be probably a lot of guys — [we have] some injuries now — new guys playing more than they expected to or ever have in the past.
“This is also the time of the year where some of those young guys might start to hit the wall a little bit. So it’s keeping those guys up, keeping them positive, understanding that everything is about the details. Obviously the margin for error for us is extremely small. Defensively, we cannot afford to take a step back. And again, it’s on all of us. We did not play well enough [Sunday] and we’ve gotta get it fixed as quickly as possible.”
Shurmur said his team must be resilient to correct its mistakes.
“We need to be better,” he said. “What you take from having worked through tough situations is you keep battling and that’s the message.
“That’s just the reality of it. It’s like the diet that doesn’t sell: eat less and exercise more. [In] football, you keep working.”
Out of sync
Rookie wide receiver Greg Little said he should have turned to look for McCoy’s pass that was intercepted by Texans safety Quintin Demps late in the second quarter.
“I just got to look earlier,” Little said. “I was thinking I was going to beat the guy over top because it was kind of ambiguous because he was sitting at about 20 yards, and I thought I was going to run right past him. But [we were] just on two different pages. I gotta just turn my head and catch the ball.”
Little is confident he and McCoy can get in sync.
“Me and Colt are both very young, but I don’t like to [use] that [as an excuse] at all,” Little said. “I hate just even saying that right now. But I know me and Colt have what it takes to be good, a good combination.”
Penn State scandal
Browns director of player personnel Jon Sandusky is “just completely devastated” by allegations that his father and former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abused young boys, Buffalo Bills safety Bryan Scott told the Associated Press. Jon Sandusky and Scott were teammates at Penn State in the late 1990s.
Jon Sandusky was not available for comment and hopes his privacy will be respected, a Browns spokesman said. Jon Sandusky is in his second year with the Browns after spending nine seasons on the personnel staff of the Philadelphia Eagles.
When asked if he has had a chance to talk to Jon Sandusky, Shurmur declined to comment.
“That’s a totally personal deal,” Shurmur said. “I don’t know the details of any of that. I’m going to sit that one out.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://browns.ohio.com. Follow the Browns on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ABJ_Browns and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/browns.abj.