Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Wednesday to talk about QB Brandon Weeden being the team's fourth captain this week, DT Phil Taylor being on the practice field, a status update on RB Trent Richardson, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
Opening Statement - Weeden Named Fourth Captain
(Opening statement)- "As I do every week, the fourth captain this week will be Brandon Weeden. I think it’s a good choice. I know you’ve been asking questions about it, but our intention here is to put Scott Fujita on IR so we’re going to do that. Again because I’m sure you’ll ask, Phil Taylor will be out there practicing today so those are probably the significant things involving the players at this point. Aside from that I’ll kind of let the injury report speak for the rest of the guys and get ready for the Chargers. We had a good walk-through, good meetings, the energy level is high, these guys understand that the process is most important - that we get ourselves as good as we can be individually, as a unit and then as a team to compete against the Chargers at 1:00 on Sunday. That’s where we’re at and that’s the mindset of the players and it’s been a good morning."
Placing Scott Fujita on IR, Possibility of Retiring
(On if Scott Fujita plans on retiring)- "I don’t know that. I spoke with him this morning and I don’t know that."
(On if there will be a corresponding roster for Fujita)- "Phil (Taylor) will be practicing and then depending on what happens, we may make another one."
(On how things evolve on defense with Fujita out)- "The guys in there have got to play good ball and they’ve got to get each other lined up. The MIKE linebacker, D’Qwell (Jackson), is ultimately responsible for that and all the guys in there have got to play. That’s how we do it, just like they did when Scott wasn’t playing the last couple of weeks."
(On how the defense is different with Fujita out)- "Just from a roster standpoint we’ve got younger guys playing those positions. When you’ve got a guy that has experience there are things that he can add to the mix. Then on the other side of it, some of the youth and enthusiasm and the fresher legs add another little dimension."
(On if he pushed Fujita towards retirement)- "I think retirement decisions, those are personal, whether it’s coaches, players. I think those are discussions you have with your loved ones, about is it time? For a player at times, that decision is made for you. If you’re no longer on a roster and you don’t get picked up, eventually it kind of sets in. I think we all want to be in control of our own situations. I think that’s fair to say. I think it’s fair to say that most of us aren’t. I think that’s the reality of it. To me, uncertainty in the world, tells me that, ‘Hey, we’re moving along.’"
(On what has Fujita has meant to him and to the team)- "He’s been here longer than I have, so I had just gotten to know him really last season, and then through this offseason. He’s a veteran player that’s done a lot of things in this league. He’s one of those guys around here that kind of knew what was going on. He’s pretty calm about doing his job. The kind of the things you see from a guy that’s played in the league for a while."
(On if he sensed frustration when he talked to Fujita about everything that has happened this year)- "We didn’t talk about anything in total. Typically, I’m talking to the guys about their ‘now’ situations, what they’re dealing with. Any player, there’s a little frustration in there when they can‘t play because they want to be out there playing, when they’re trying to come back from an injury of some sort. Other than that, I didn’t talk to him about anything in total."
Phil Taylor Practicing and His Availability
(On what chance Taylor has to play on Sunday)- "Very low. He’s got to get out there and start doing his thing."
(On if Taylor counts against the roster yet)- "No. I’ve got all this flexibility."
(On what a reasonable time is for Taylor to come back considering his position)- "This is not unique for a guy to come back at this point in the season and we’ve just got to watch him work. We’ve got to get him out there and let him practice, get him first into the swing of things and then step up the workload and see how he handles it. We’ll see. It’s reasonable to think maybe next week or the week after, of course we’ve got a bye in there so we’ll see."
Trent Richardson Taking Part in Practice, and Thought of Resting Him
(On if Trent Richardson participated in the walk-through)- "He did, yeah."
(On if it would have been wiser to have Richardson sit last week)- "No, we wanted him to compete and he competed in there for about a half. I was watching him every step of the way and I don’t think it was wise to keep himself out. He didn’t re-injure himself. Had he re-injured himself or set himself back then I would have had second thoughts, but that wasn’t the case."
(On if there is value in resting Richardson until after the bye)- "I think what’s important is if he’s healthy to play, he plays. If they tell me he is at no risk to hurt if further then we’re playing ball. As I watch him in practice, just like we watched him in the game, if we feel like that’s something that we can and should do we’ll do it otherwise we’re getting ready to play."
(On if Richardson is a guy that they need to talk to about being honest with how he is feeling and how productive he can be)- "He’s being honest and trying to be convincing at the same time. I get that. That’s not the first time that we’ve encountered a player that’s tried to do that. That’s where the relationship is where you know the player and you watch the player and you know what he looks like when he’s feeling great regardless of what he tells you. That’s where that relationship is. I’m more able to do it this year knowing the players where last year coming off of a lockout I was still getting a feel for some of that. In the case of Trent, what I do know is this, he’s a competitor, he wants to be out there and no matter how he feels he’s going to try to convince me to go out there. I just know that when I go into that decision making about whether he should be or shouldn’t be."
(On if he knew Richardson wasn’t himself right away last week)- "I don’t know about right away. I gave him a little bit of time in there just to see."
(On if Montario Hardesty did anything in camp to prove that he was the guy to backup Richardson)- "Yeah, we discussed it throughout, but I thought he showed up healthy and in shape. That allowed him to kind of catch our eye and he was productive. Then you decide on who is your starter and who is your backups, and what they’re good at and why they’re filling those roles. We feel like he can be an effective runner. That’s why you see him in there on first, second down."
Struggles for the Young Defensive Tackles, and JMJ's Progress
(On if the young defensive tackles have hit a wall)- "I think that’s a question for them. They’re the ones who know how they feel. I think it’s important that they just keep pushing and I think it’s important they keep going through the process and make sure they’re getting their preparation, rest, they’re hydrating and getting themselves just as ready as they can be for a 1:00 start on Sunday. That’s what we try to encourage them to do to make sure they’re just right. The season adds up on you a little bit. I think that’s fair to say and they’ve got to do all the right things with their time and their preparation to make sure they don’t wear down."
(On what he likes about James-Michael Johnson and how has he looked)- "He’s getting better. I think he’s having a little bit more production each week, having less bad plays."
Feeling Better About the Wide Receivers, and Distributing Reps
(On if he feels better about the depth he has at wide receiver and if this is the most depth they have had)- "I don’t know. I feel like we’re getting more production out of that position. I think you guys can make the decision. We’ve added a lot of new receivers to the mix, a lot of young guys that I feel like they’re improving. Again, let’s keep in mind, we’ve won one game. I’m not happy about that, but I think as you go through it, as you dig in and try to build something, like we’re doing here. We’re trying to build something into a consistent winner. There are some tough days. You want to add some youthful guys that can be here for a while, that show you that, ‘Wow, they’ve got a chance.’ I think we can say that that’s the case with some of our young receivers."
(On if Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin being on the field at the same time and if that is a work in progress)- "I think whether they’re out there together, or out there by themselves with some other receiver, I think you see flashes of things that you want. They’re obviously very different body types. That’s fair to say. They’re very different body types. I think they can be very effective as receivers. They both had good production the other night. We want to get it to where they have great production."
(On if a completely healthy Travis Benjamin will take playing time away from Josh Cooper)- "No, I’m going to play them all. If they’re active, they’ll play. We have ways we can play one receiver, two receivers, three and at times four so we’ll get them out there and let them all have a crack at it."
Blocking from the Offensive Line, Run vs. Pass
(On his comparison of the offensive line’s run blocking versus the pass blocking)- "It’s easy to talk about production, we haven’t given up any sacks, but again I think there’s a combination of reasons why. I think they’ve battled in the pass protection area. I do think as a team we need to run the ball better and each week we look at the opponent we playing, the types of runs that we like, the runner that’s in the game and then making sure we get them blocked properly. Speaking specifically on the offensive line and tying it to the team, we need to do a better job of making yards when we run the football."
The Tight End Position - Gates and His Own Guys
(On how to defend Antonio Gates)- "That’s a good question and I think he’s playing, in terms of Antonio Gates, I think he’s playing as well as he’s played recently, in my mind. He looks healthy, on tape he looks big, (Philip) Rivers is throwing to him a lot and he’s making a lot of catches. I haven’t seen a lot of the teams that we’ve watched on tape defend him all that effectively. I think it’s important that we get pressure on the passer, I think it’s important that we challenge all the throws and whoever’s covering him, whether it be a safety or a linebacker or he’s running through a zone, we’ve got to do a good job of trying to disrupt the throws."
(On how the tight end position has evolved)- "I think there’s more of an emphasis put on the tight end position. You see a lot more, and we do it quite a bit, where you have one back, two tight end, two receiver sets. Then you see those guys lined up on the end of the line of scrimmage, you see them lined up as receivers, you see them lined up in the backfield. Those guys, because of their size and their athletic ability, they can provided mismatches on the inside of the defenses. There’s a lot of conversation about the matchups at the receivers so you take those guys out of it for a second, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the middle and the tight ends can be a part of it. I think without knowing exactly the numbers and how they stack up, we throw the ball to the tight ends quite a bit and I think that’s just the general trend."
(On if Antonio Gates gives him pause about using linebackers to cover him one-on-one)- "Pause? There are only a few choices. It’s a linebacker or safety normally, unless you’re going to put a corner in there. If you’re going to matchup in man-to-man coverage those are your choices. I’ve got confidence that our guys are going to battle him."
(On what he has seen out of his tight ends)- "I feel good about the production we’re getting. They’re always involved in the passing game, some games more than others. I think it’s important that you involve the wide receivers in the passing game because if you just throw the ball to the tight end at times, the game get played in a confined area. I feel like they’re doing what we ask them to do. I think it’s important that our guys try to develop as three down tight ends, which means they block the line of scrimmage and we’re making improvements there, especially with Jordan (Cameron). I think they want to try to get their game to the position where they can be playmakers, but yet they’re in there kind of getting down and dirty doing their blocking as well."
Rivers Being an Emotional Quarterback
(On if he sees Rivers as an emotional quarterback that’s unpredictable)- "I don’t know about that. When I watched the game, I tried to watch it forgetting the score. I sat down, in fact before I left last night, and watched that game. I saw him playing pretty efficiently. There are things that happen where you throw interceptions. They knocked the ball off him once. Those created two scores, which kind of jump started Denver’s comeback. No, I see him as a guy that’s a top flight quarterback in this league, quite frankly. Regardless, he’s a big guy, he’s got big targets. It looks like they’re all playing above the rim. They’re very effective."