Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur talked to the media following Monday's practice about the team's injuries at wide receiver and safety, what he learned from seeing the Giants game Sunday night, and more. The news conference transcript is organized by topic below, along with my own thoughts.
Focusing on the New York Giants & Taking Advantage of Extra Time Off
(Opening Statement) – "We’re back at it. It was good for the players to get away for a day or so. We had a chance to go through what we’ve done to this point in the year. Of course, we’re not where we want to be yet. We’re putting all our energy and our focus into beating the Giants. It was a good practice today. Guys ran around. We are working mostly on fundamentals and doing all the things right, and then of course, we snuck a peak at the Giants. That’s where we’re at."
(On if he watched the Giants vs. Eagles game) – "I did, last night and this morning."
(On what he learned from watching the Giants game) – "What did I learn? Just like a lot of games this weekend, a lot of games come down to the very last play, so you just keep playing. At no point in the game do you ever get discouraged, you just keep playing hard. You just never know what’s going to happen. Two very good teams played one another. I was involved in a lot of those contests, and I remember the feeling of those games."
(On if there an advantage or disadvantage to playing the Giants with them coming off of a loss) – "I think each week you reload and you do what you can to get your team as good as they can be and match up against the opponent in a way that you can go out and win a football game. I think regardless of whether you win or lose, you try to reset and move forward."
Pokorny's Thoughts: When you start being competitive enough that you've shown you can actually win games, then you can start thinking about making a comeback late in games. To be a good team, you can't be battling up until the last second in every game, only to come up short. There need to be games in which the Browns are the team that controls these close games. It is a definite advantage to have some time off to let guys heal up, though.
Injuries at the Wide Receiver Position, and New Opportunities
(On Travis Benjamin’s status) – "We’ll see. He’s day to day as well."
(On if he can go into the game with three wide receivers or if they would have to make a roster move) – "We’ll have to see. We’ll make the roster as good as we can make it. We’re going to put the guys on the field that can play and will give us the best opportunity to win. If we have to use three tight ends alright. If we have to use two receivers, whatever the combination is, we got plenty of plays and a lot of ideas. We’ll put the guys out there that give us the best chance to win."
(On if the injuries will put the punt/kickoff return load on Norwood or if there is another candidate) – "That’ll be a fun thing for you guys to do. Do the math."
(On if Josh Cooper has the ability to improve his role) – "I’ve watched him improve just as he’s really mocking up the other team’s offense. I think he works extremely hard. A lot of routes are similar from team to team, and he has an opportunity to run some of the concepts that we run. I’ve seen him improve in this first month for sure."
(On Josh Gordon and what are some areas where he can improve) – "Josh is learning. Every practice, every game opportunity, he’s learning something new. He just needs to continue to learn. I think he’ll find a way to be productive here in a way that we expect soon."
(On if he likes Gordon’s effort level since the regular season began) – "He’s learning how to do everything at our standards."
Pokorny's Thoughts: It's hard to get a read on which receivers will be ready for the Giants game. My assumption would be that Joshua Cribbs is the least likely to play, given the fact that a guy like Alex Smith is still out from his concussion a few weeks back. I have no idea what is wrong with Travis Benjamin. If the Browns need an extra receiver this week, Josh Cooper could be called up from the practice squad. Who do you cut, though? LB Tank Carder would be my first choice.
Injuries at Safety; Ward Has Surgery; Hagg Returning?
(On if T.J. Ward had to have surgery) – "He did. I think I said the thumb, right? It was the thumb, yeah. He did."
(On when Ward had surgery) – "(It was) a couple days ago."
(On if he’s still hopeful Ward will be able to play) – "He’s day to day. (It was the) Same procedure Bubba (Ray Ventrone) had and he’s back."
(On if Usama Young is bouncing back from his knee injury) – "He was at practice. (He) looks good. I don’t know what he’s bouncing back from, but he’s out there."
(On Eric Hagg being inactive the past two games and if it was an issue with his confidence) – "It’s true he hasn’t started, but I don’t think it has anything to do with is confidence, not one bit. I’m very confident that if he’s in there, he’s going to do great. If he’s called on the play, he’ll go in there, and of course we expect he’ll have a very productive game."
Pokorny's Thoughts: Our safeties are a mess right now. It'd be interesting to see if Sheldon Brown or Johnson Bademosi got some work there this week. It sounds like all of the injuries at safety are ones that our guys can battle through, but you hate to have them banged up against the dangerous Eli Manning.
Increasing the Tempo on Offense; Weeden's Continuous Improvement
(On increasing the tempo of the offense) – "There were times in the game where you can create tempo from the huddle as well, so tempo is one thing. I think we’ve helped ourselves in some ways, and I think there are areas that we are playing better offense than we did a year ago. Now, we just have to become more consistent and put together an effort that’s good enough to win a game."
(On how Brandon Weeden has improved from his first game to game three) – "I think he’s getting better. Each game, of course, presents a different situation. I think there are things that I’m seeing him do behind the scenes that are better and better. Now, we just have to put together a winning performance start to finish. I think that’s what we’re all striving for."
(On what some of those behind the scenes things are) – "Whether it’s a how he handles the huddle, going through his progression, making his reads, just normal quarterback stuff."
(On why all the younger quarterbacks are doing well in the NFL) – "Well, I think first of all, and we’ve talked about this in the past, I think they’re coming to this league with more knowledge of how to play quarterback at this level. I think that’s fair to say. A lot of these guys have been involved in spread offenses. A lot of guys have been in a lot of pass first offenses. Heck, I remember when I was at Michigan State, we had five plays and some of the guys only knew four of them. You weren’t getting the same training that you get now coming into this league. I think it helps jump start their performance."
Pokorny's Thoughts: The Browns just need to be better offensively to start off games, period.
The Guards Blocking on the Perimeter
(On if Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao can effectively block on the perimeter) – "I think so. I think they’re guys that can play guard in this league. We ask them to do some and more of the things that you ask me about. They have to be able to block in line and then we do like to screen and we do like to attack the perimeter. Yeah, I think they can."
Pokorny's Thoughts: The play at guard seems to be getting incrementally better, but there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially in run blocking.