Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur spoke with the media Thursday morning. Shurmur noted that starting safety T.J. Ward will probably be out this week, and because of that, he fielded a lot of questions about rookie safety Eric Hagg. Shurmur also talked about why offensive lineman John Greco isn't seeing more action, among other things. The highlights from his press conference are after the jump. [Read full press conference transcript].
(On what they could do to make the second half of the season look better than the first half of the season)- "Win eight games. That’s starting with the first one we play and I think, in my mind, that’s the ultimate improvement on the first half. As we move forward though in terms of system, in terms of the players that are playing, you’re looking for general efficiency, guys doing more things right all the time whether it’s being their alignment, their assignment, their ability to make a play, you’re looking for guys that are giving great effort on every play and you’re looking for overall team production. That to me is what I will evaluate on whether we’re making improvements."
(On how Eric Hagg looks at practice)- "Eric’s done a nice job. He looks much more comfortable in there than he did when he first came back from injury a couple weeks ago. He had a good practice yesterday and he’ll be out there, we’ll get a chance to watch him move around again today."
(On how he would describe Hagg)- "Eric is one of our young players that improves and sees something new every day. I think he’s a very aware guy. I think he’s a physical tackler and at least the practices and competitive situations I’ve seen him in in training camp, we felt really good about the progress he was making in those competitive situations, which is pretty much the last time we saw him do that. We’re anticipating he’ll play well."
(On if they considered putting Hagg on injured reserve when he got hurt during training camp)- "We evaluated that, but we knew that he would be back in time to play a good chunk of the season and because he had done so well in our mind in training camp, we just didn’t want to put him down so that’s why we kept him up. But, we had those discussions. We do with really every injury depending on the length of time it takes for them to return."
(On Hagg being known as a ball hawk in college)- "I think those are the instincts we saw in terms of being a ball hawk. He got his hands on a lot of balls in training camp when we were competing against one another. In fact, I’m remembering back to when he hurt his knee in practice, it was a red zone drill where he made a play on the ball and then he kind of just fell on his knee. We had remarked just in the personnel meeting the night before how well he was doing because he had gotten his hand on a lot of balls. We’re hopeful and that’s really an important skill for a safety and we’re hoping that he’ll do it Sunday."
(On if John Greco has been a victim wanting to get younger players more experience)- "I think with those guys we’re trying to put the guys we think are going to do the best job in there at this point. John’s ready to go, John’s a pro and he’s like any player, he wants to get in there and compete. We’re not trying to get the guys experience, the nature of the way our roster is, they’re getting it and I think that’s where you’re at. We’re trying to do what we can to win games and as you put things together and you go out and compete that’s where the performance comes in terms of us being able to evaluate how they’re doing."
(On how much room for improvement he sees with the offensive line)- "I think there’s plenty of room for improvement and I’d like it to be steady. Meaning I want Sunday’s game to be better than the last and then the next game to be better than the last. I think that’s what I’m looking for. I think offensive linemen, regardless of their skill level, the longer they work together the better they get and I think when you talk about linemen you’re talking about guys winning their individual battles, but the success of that group is based on how well they all work together. I think the longer they play together the better they get."