Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Thursday to talk about rules involving practicing in pads, whether WR Josh Gordon can be elite, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
(Opening statement)- "Nothing new to add to yesterday, obviously, I answered a lot of your questions. The guys had a good day at practice and we’ll have another one today and just keep moving."
Discussing How Trent Richardson Has Looked, and Practicing in Pads
(On how tough it is to assess a player’s readiness without having contact throughout the week at practice)- "I think that happens to a lot of players in a lot of different weeks. We’ve had players that have played in games, our guys that had the thumbs had no contact during the week so it’s not uncommon. Trent (Richardson) had a good day of practice yesterday. He did a lot of work and you just do as much as you can to get them as good and as ready as they can be for 1:00 on Sunday."
(On if Richardson looked better overall)- "Yeah, he did way more yesterday than he did last Wednesday."
(On if coaches are consulted at all regarding CBA matters such as players having contact in practice)- "No, we were informed of the rules. The rules were set and you have 14 days in pads. I try to use them typically on Thursdays, which is today because that’s when we practice short yardage and goal-line. That’s when we wear our shoulder pads."
(On how he decides the two games that the team will not practice with pads)- "You look at the schedule. You have a Thursday game. I just went through it. I have the days that I intend to practice in pads and I did it all the way through the year. You sit down and schedule it much like you would going to get a haircut (joking)."
Phil Taylor is Big and Conditioned
(On how Phil Taylor looked yesterday)- "He looked good, he had a good practice. He looked big and I’m not used to seeing him out there. I’m not saying he’s fat, I’m like, ‘Wow.’ It reminds you how big he is. I watched him quite a lot and he moved around fine."
(On if he thinks Taylor has kept up with his conditioning)- "I know because I’ve watched him every week. There’s a component to playing the game and getting in shape by playing the game that you have to do. Same thing about basketball, since we were talking basketball. You can get in great shape, but these are games you have to play to feel the weight of the linemen, being able to separate and then chase and the rhythm and timing of it all, I think that’s what he’s getting a feel for right now."
Weeden's Ability yo Stand in the Pocket and Correct Mistakes
(On Brandon Weeden being criticized for his pocket presence coming out of college and if he has improved in that area)- "There are phrases that people use to generalize a players ability to play. I think he operates pretty well from the pocket. However you want to define pocket presence - being able to move in the pocket, being able to escape the pocket, being able to throw the ball from different places. I see him getting better. His total game is getting better so I assume whoever said that about him is seeing some improvement."
(On Weeden’s ability to stand in the pocket and take a hit as he throws the ball downfield)- "That tells me that he’s got a downfield focus because you really don’t want to be watching the rush, that’s another thing. There are a lot of catch phrases and buzz words that people use because you want to keep a downfield focus and trust your protection but also be aware if there’s an extra guy coming that’s unblocked. There’s a lot that goes into it and every throw is a little bit different. We draw them up versus air to be nice and smooth and in rhythm, but we all know that more than half the time you just don’t have a clean pocket so you’ve got to either move around or throw the ball with your eyes downfield knowing that you’re going to get whacked."
(On Weeden’s ability to correct his mistakes throughout the season)- "That tells me he’s working on it, that tells me that we’re coaching the right things, you don’t want to see guys repeating mistakes. As we go along every once in a while you’re going to get a batted ball, every once in a while you’re going to make a bad decision, every once in a while you should escape the pocket and you don’t and all those things. The fact that they become points of emphasis the first time they creep up and then we make efforts to correct them and then you see corrections, that tells me he’s working on it."
(On if he feels that Weeden is the quarterback of the future)- "I see our quarterback improving each week and much like Josh Gordon, I can’t wait to see how far he can take this thing as we move through the back half of our season. Now, I would say this, quarterbacks will eventually be evaluated by wins. I’ve got this little checklist of things I want to see him do better and that also includes getting us wins."
(On if he senses that Weeden is starting to get it and if he has a better grasp on his responsibilities)- "I’ve seen him exert himself more beyond just playing quarterback in the last month, but you can’t do that until you kind of know what you’re doing playing your position. I’ve said it a lot, a lot of that runs parallel and as you’re playing better and you’re more confident in what you’re doing then you can start exerting yourself more and those are the things we talk about."
(On if he has seen Weeden’s leadership grow)- "I think that’s leadership - being able to exert himself more, being able to encourage the other players, but also be willing to get on them a little bit and do it in a way that makes sense. When I say makes sense, fits that player’s personality. I think we all have certain personalities, we all have things that we do to help inspire people based on our own personality and if you keep it natural like he doing, I’ve seen the interaction that he’s had with some of the receivers, ‘Hey get in the huddle, hey I don’t want to tell you again,’ Within in his personality it fits now that I know Brandon a little bit better."
(On how good Weeden’s arm is)- "We knew he had a good arm and that’s about fourth or fifth though on the must have characteristics for a quarterback. You’ve got to be a good decision maker, you’ve got to be accurate, you’ve got to understand timing, you’ve got to be a good leader and then the bonus baby in all of that is if you’ve got an outstanding very strong arm where you can make all the throws then that’s good."
Finding the Right Combination of Wide Receivers
(On if there is a friendly competition among the wide receivers)- "I see guys out there working hard. I’ve told our receivers I said, ‘What you want to be able to do is become what the quarterback considers his best mismatch,’ in other words your ability matched up with who’s covering you. All else being equal, if he’s got a mirrored route, you want to become the guy that he wants to go to so I’m assuming they’re challenging themselves to do that. I see them getting better, I see their production increasing, I think our most productive receivers at the wide receiver position are three rookies and a second-year guy. There’s a lot of room for improvement there because they’re new at it in this league. I think whether its friendly or not you’ve got to ask them."
(On if there is any challenge to finding the right combination of wide receivers being on the field at the same time)- "No, we have ways to get them all in there and we have little words we use to get them in there. Zebra, Josh at X, Tiger this so we have ways to do that. The challenge is to get that done where they’re all in there."
Talking About the Run-Pass Distribution Again
(On if he and Brad Childress game plan where they want to be in run-pass distribution or if it is game dictated)- "I think you watch a defense and you’re always trying to do what you have to do to score points. I think what’s important is whatever play you call you want to be efficient doing it and we always go in with the idea that the running back is going to be involved. How that plays out sometimes changes if the score gets twisted one way or another. I’ve mentioned this before, ideally you want to be ahead at halftime then you can lean on the running game a little bit more. There are times when it makes sense to come out and run the ball a bunch in the first quarter because that’s the best way to score. There are times when it makes more sense to start the game by throwing a little bit more. I think in the last couple of weeks we’ve done a good job with our first drives and you see a different combination of things and then it plays out from there."
Discussing the Progress of WR Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron
(On if Josh Gordon can become an elite receiver)- "I think he’s shown me that he’s got a chance to be a pretty darn good player. Now, how far he goes with that we’ll see, but I’m seeing steady improvement. I think it’s fair to say the light has gone on a little bit. Here’s a guy that came in, admittedly, when he came to training camp he needed to get in shape, he needed to learn the offense, he hadn’t played in a while - there were a lot of things running parallel. All eyes were on him and we were expecting him to be great from day one. Then there’s a mental component to that. To his credit, he’s pushed through a lot of that. I’ve seen him practice better because he’s in better shape, I’ve seen him listen to us, he knows where to get lined up, his functional intelligence is good so I’ve seen all that. Now, we’ll just see how far he goes with it."
(On Josh Gordon being quiet and if he is fierce enough and is a red meat eater)- "I would say this about him, I think he is an intelligent young man. I think he is very quiet, but when you talk to him one-on-one, I see a young guy that gets it. He shouldn’t eat too much red meat (joking). I think he’s competitive and I think he’s got what it takes if he continues to make improvements like we’ve seen."
(On where Jordan Cameron is on his learning curve)- "I still think he’s one of the most improved guys on our team since I met him year. He’s another guy that’s got great skill and ability. He came here having played at USC and really didn’t play much football. That’s a tough position to play, tight end, because you’re in there gutting it out blocking. The guys on defense, if you’re a defense end, you want to consider yourself a mismatch for a tight end so he’s got to close the gap on that as a blocker. Then learn the routes and how he fits and combinations. It’s a hard position to learn how to play especially if you haven’t played it much and I think he’s made great improvement."
(On if the NFL started looking for more guys like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates due to their success and basketball backgrounds)- "I’ve always felt that there’s a lot of tight ends playing in the NBA, just the body type and the athletic ability. There are a lot of those type guys. It’s intriguing to us when we’re scouting players, especially if they’re a tight end and if they’ve got a basketball background. Even recruiting in college, you would look for players at all positions that had a basketball background because just think about what basketball players have to do. I think you’ve always through the course of time, you’ve seen standout tight ends from the beginning of when we started playing football and just in recent times, you’ve seen guys that have had success that were also basketball players. It kind of goes hand-in-hand."