Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Thursday. He talked about figuring out who will get reps at the wide receiver position this Sunday, how Trent Richardson will handle his rib injury, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
Opening Statement - Practicing Indoors, and Remembering Back to 2011 @ Indy
(Opening statement)- "You guys are talking about the rain here, it looks like we’ll practice inside today for a couple of reasons - because of the weather and then of course we work crowd noise so that noise will be a little intensified in there. Remembering back to last year when we played in Indianapolis, it can be loud in there. Typical of Thursdays when we play on the road, we work with the crowd noise so we’ll be inside."
Trying to Figure Out Who Will Get Reps at WR
(On the healthy competition at wide receiver with some of them returning from injury)- "We’ve had a different lineup here at receiver as we’ve gone along. That hasn’t been a consistent crew. I think that’s fair to say. If you’re a guy that you think you’re a starter and you’re standing there watching for whatever reason and you see your backup or your role player in there making plays, you should get a little anxious about it. I think what’s important is that when you have the next man up theory and we’re going to play the guys that are going to produce some of what you’re talking about kind of goes without saying. It gets competitive. If a young guy that hasn’t had an opportunity gets in there and makes some plays, I think that’s a good thing."
(On previously saying that the light going on for Josh Gordon and what he has seen in him)- "I think the light is going on. I think he’s making improvements. I think I made that comment based on what I see all week long, based on how I see him function in the building, based on the way I see him function in meetings and then how he’s practicing more up to mine and our standards. I think those are all the things you need to see, in my opinion, before a guy can go out on the field and have success. His success the last two weeks has kind of validated that process in my mind and so the key now is to just continue with that."
(On how Josh Gordon challenges a defense)- "He has size, number one. I think he can run which is the threat that most defenses, they’re most worried about you getting behind them. He’s displayed at times the ability to catch the football even when he’s got somebody close in coverage. The big challenge for all rookies receivers is defeating bump and run so instead of worrying about covering you down the field they try to jam you up at the line so he needs to continue to work on that."
(On if he anticipates that teams will give Gordon less cushion because he has beaten a couple of teams deep)- "Situation dictates sometimes and where he’s lined up dictates sometimes they type of cushion you get and that’s the little game we as coaches play. You want all your receivers to get a free run off of the line of scrimmage. That’s not real though, we know that."
(On what he saw from Josh Cooper in his first game)- "I thought it was a good start. He made a couple of contested catches that weren’t the easiest which was good. I saw him in the flow of the game mentally and emotionally and it looked to me like he was playing fast which is what you want to see. Those are all things you can build on and I go in to this knowing that he has a natural connection with Brandon (Weeden) so I anticipate he’ll continue to improve."
(On how important having a college connection is)- "I think it helps initially and then when they come in here they’re learning what we do it all runs parallel. They’ve got to learn the routes we run for the receivers and then the quarterback has got to understand and the timing and the why and when we throw it to certain receivers. To have a natural feel for how a guy is going to get open and having developed that feel, I think it helps jump start it or jump start that relationship for sure."
Trent Richardson's Reps and Return From Injury
(On if Trent Richardson will be able to do more in practice today)- "He practiced yesterday so he’ll be out there, yeah."
(On if he would he consider splitting carries if Trent Richardson is in pain on Sunday)- "We’re going to see who’s up on Sunday and they’re going to play. I think Trent wants to play."
(On if there is a possibility that Richardson could play in a limited capacity or would he be full go)- "I think you’ve seen us, and again I’m not avoiding the question, I think you’ve seen us play multiple backs like we did the other day with Montario (Hardesty) and then Chris (Ogbonnaya). He’s our starting running back. Ideally you would like to see him the highest percentage of the snaps first, second, third down, backed up, going in, short yardage. You would want him to be the main guy and then we’ll just get a feel for the flow of the game. I trust those other guys behind him to go in there and do what they’ve got to do."
(On if it is difficult to be 100 percent when you are wearing protection for your ribs)- "No, this is space-age designed stuff. He’s wearing something that’s bullet proof. He told me he thought he already was, now’s he’s got go wear something to make it happen (joking). They make it now where I don’t think it will bind him up too much."
Evaluating the Colts' Defense and Offense
(On if Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are any different in the 3-4 versus the 4-3)- "They’ve got them in a role where they stand up a little more than they’re used to in their old 4-3 scheme. They play a lot of four-man fronts especially when they get to nickel situations where it’s very obvious those two guys can still pass rush."
(On how much the Colts’ poor run defense last week affects their planning for this week)- "Each game is different and we know they have talented players. Usually you get what you emphasize so if that’s something they feel then I’m sure they will tighten down on that. What’s important though is that we try to put our guys in the best possible position to be successful either running the ball or throwing the ball and again try to score points and ultimately more than they do and that’s the key."
(On what makes Reggie Wayne so special)- "He’s got a feel for the position. I’ve always thought he was an outstanding route runner. He can make those defining catches, those tough catches that make you say this is one of the best guys. I think he’s found a way to find a connection with a new quarterback. He’s one of the most veteran players in that organization so it’s a credit to him that he’s getting production. He’s kind of playing having to play the game a little differently than he was used to for all those years with Peyton (Manning) running the show."
Comparing Mitchell Schwartz to a Car Engine, and Batted Passes
(On how Mitchell Schwarz has been playing)- "You know what’s interesting about that, offensive lines at times tend to be and this sounds cliché, but the engines of your car. When the car starts and runs, you don’t think about it or say much about it. Not much of note happening there other than the fact that I think he’s improved each week. The last couple of weeks we haven’t talked about his progress, but I see improvement in his run blocking as well as his pass protection. Again, he’s a smart guy who’s played a lot of football and he’s getting a feel for this just like all the other rookies in there. I’m pretty pleased with where he’s at."
(On the batted down passes and the offensive linemen taking responsibility for that happening and if it is their responsibility)- "Some of it is, yeah. I’m glad when you talk to linemen, they take most of the blame. When you talk to the quarterback, he should take most of the blame. It’s just like when I was playing center back at Michigan State and you had a fumbled snap. I had to deal with a quarterback and I would say it was my fault and then he would say it was his fault. What’s the coach say? Just get it right. I think that’s the type of unselfish acceptance of blame that you want. Just like sacks, just like bad plays on offenses that aren’t coordinated or plays that aren’t coordinated, it’s a combination of things. The quarterback has got to throw in lanes, there’s times on three-step drops where we’ve got to maybe cut the guy to get their hands down so it’s a combination of things. When they all kind of accept blame for it - and I’ll put myself in there, maybe we’ll do different things - then you find an answer."
(On if it is difficult for offensive linemen to defend against batted balls because their back is to the quarterback)- "There are fundamental’s involved with it. When you’ve got your hands on a blocker and you’ve got a feel for where the balls being launched from and where the ball is potentially going to be thrown based on the play call in the huddle. You have a feel for then how the defended wants to defend it. If he lays off or pulls the pressure off then you have little tools in your basket that you can do to make sure he doesn’t jump if you know what I’m saying."
(On if there is much an offensive lineman can do to prevent batted balls is the defender lays off)- "Yeah, you can cut him. There are things you can do and I think again, it’s all coordinated. Then there’s time where it really falls on the quarterback to make sure he throws in the lane. It’s like us assigning blame or giving praise on each single play. When I look at it sometimes it’s just coordinated badly or the guy was stalemated in pass rush so his only line of defense to make a play is to just reach up or maybe it was just a poor throw by the quarterback or maybe the tackle or the guard got bull rushed where he was too close to the quarterback. It’s not always obvious to somebody just watching the game, but those are the things we look at and talk about."
Figuring Out Who Buster Skrine Will Cover Against Indy
(On if Buster Skrine is going to cover Reggie Wayne because Wayne plays in the slot)- "You’ll see Reggie everywhere. We talked yesterday about how Andrew Luck throws to him quite a bit so they move him around. They try to pop him open in different concepts. There’s a chance we could have different corners covering him depending on how he lines up."
(On what he saw out of Buster Skrine in the slot and his ability to bounce back after struggles)- "He’s very resilient, I’ll start with the back part of your question. I think he’s a very resilient guy. He challenges and he’s tough and he keeps getting back up and keeps going. I think that’s the way he plays. In terms of being in the slot, I thought he challenged really well. There’s a couple times he was on A.J. (Green). The one on Joe’s (Haden) interception he contested it. There was one earlier where A.J. made a play on him where he was tight on coverage. I don’t know how the ball got in there, it was a great throw and a great catch, but I obviously will fault Buster because he didn’t get the ball out, but his position to defend it was good. Now he’s just got to make the play. You see that quite often with him. He practices fast, I think he plays fast, he’s into it and those are all the reasons why he’ll continue to improve. Guys that will challenge, guys that will stay into it mentally and physically and play fast all the time, those guys have a chance to get better. Those guys are more in position more times to make plays so I think that’s what Buster brings to the table"
Loose Ends - Young Players, and JMJ's First Defensive Effort
(On if it is shocking for some young players when they get into the league as to what it takes to be a pro)- "Well they need to learn it. I frequently use the word grind and that really is what happens when you work through your weeks. You grind through them. There’s a lot going on mentally, there’s a lot going on physically and then when all the conversation starts there can be a lot going on emotionally. They’ve got to learn how to deal with that and then prepare themselves to play the next game better than the one before so it can be a taxing process for guys that have never really had to go through it."
(On if there is a danger for a young player who has success to forget the hard work it took to get to that point)- "That’s what the coaches are for. We’re constantly, constantly reminding guys about the process of getting ready to play on Sunday. If you improve the process each week I firmly believe it will be validated by how you play. Now of course you have to go in and make the plays, that’s the second most important part of it once you get past the preparation to do it."
(On where James-Michael Johnson is at and his play last Sunday)- "I think he had a good showing. It was really his first solid amount of scrimmage snaps other than special teams. I thought he showed up pretty well. I saw some of the things that we were noticing in the preseason. He practiced well yesterday and he’s practicing faster and faster every day. Some of the things I just mentioned about Buster show up in his play."