Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Wednesday to talk about Joshua Cribbs being the team's fourth captain this week, Colt McCoy simulating Robert Griffin III in practice, who they think will be under center for Washington, why Brad Smelley was brought up to the active roster, and more. The news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
Cribbs as the 4th Captain, Benjamin Wins Award
(Opening statement)- "You saw the news this morning, the AFC Player of the Week for special teams was Travis Benjamin. That’s a tremendous honor. I’m sure he’s happy to receive that as well as be a part of a winning effort. The fourth captain this week will be Josh Cribbs. I’ve talked about it numerous times, but I really appreciate Josh for his toughness. In a sport like football, a guy that’s tough, that’s the highest honor. He’ll be our fourth captain. Otherwise, we’re getting ready to play the Redskins. I could probably answer one of your questions. As we prepare to play the Redskins, who plays quarterback will not affect our preparation as we move forward. We have to prepare for their offense. It’s extremely important that we not try to look at what things are being said. They’ve got two fine quarterbacks, they are different in style in some ways, but their offense is very effective. They have elements of the drop-back passing game, they have elements of option football and, of course, their running game resembles in a lot of ways the off-tackle zone stuff that the Shanahan’s have always been known for. That’s what we have to prepare for as we move forward."
(On if there is irony with Joshua Cribbs being named the fourth game captain the same week Travis Benjamin won Special Teams Player of the Week)- "Not in my mind."
(On Benjamin’s speed versus what Cribbs brings as a returner)- "I think they both can be very effective. Of course, Josh is not the fastest guy in the world and never really has been, but he’s found a way to run back kicks, quite a few in his career. Travis is extremely fast. They add different elements to the return game."
(On how he can use both Cribbs and Benjamin in the return game)- "You saw in the game we had two guys back at one point. We did something a little fun I’ll say, when we rushed Cribbs and then dropped Benjamin back. Then there’s times where we use one or the other. I think it’s a good problem to have."
Colt McCoy Simulating RGIII in Practice
(On who will simulate the opposing quarterback this week)- "Colt’s going to play the quarterback position for us. That’s who will do it. Let me just say this, I’m not sure we have that kind of speed on our team to simulate a player as talented as RGIII (Robert Griffin III) in terms of his just flat speed."
(On if not having that type of speed on the team is a problem because you don’t see it until gameday)- "No, I think it’s what you go through any time you prepare for a tremendous player like RGIII."
(On if he expects Shanahan to keep him guessing all week on the quarterback situation)- "I don’t know. I’m sure we’re going to hear lots of things as we move forward and the game is only a couple days away. We can’t really worry about that. We have to get ready to play their offense."
(On if he gave any consideration to Cribbs simulating Griffin in practice this week)- "No."
RGIII's Mobility and Preparing for It
(On if he would worry about injury if he had a mobile quarterback like Griffin)- "I think there’s more and more quarterbacks coming into the league like RGIII. If Brandon (Weeden) was a guy that could run the football better, we’d have some structured quarterback runs. In my opinion, they’re doing all the right things and they’re winning football games and playing good offense. But, there’s something to be said for exposing your quarterback to a bunch of hits. You weight it, that’s just what happens. I think you have to make that decision based on the guy you have."
(On if he had to have discussions with Donovan McNabb to be careful when they were in Philadelphia)- "No, you don’t do that with these athletes. They want to make every yard and they want to get in the end zone. With Donovan we trained him as a drop-back passer. Then you go through your progression and if it’s not there you hitch twice or three times then you take off and run. We had some structured quarterback runs, but not as many as I’m seeing from teams with (Colin) Kaepernick, RGIII, Cam Newton and so on. It’s just all how you decide to use the players that you have."
(On if he would have run a more pro-style offense than what the Redskins are running if the Browns had been able to draft Griffin)- "No, I promise you we would have had more, I’m going to call them structured quarterback type runs. That’s what I’ll call them."
(On the Redskins using the freeze option and why we haven’t seen that in the NFL to this point)- "I think you see things trickle up a little bit. We would all agree it’s important that we develop our teams and win quickly. I think when you bring talent into the league you try to do some of the things they’ve done in the past and had success with. That makes sense. Every offense can be as multiple or as limited as you want it to be and you try to use the talent that you have. I think that’s why you’re seeing some of this stuff and I think it’s smart. It’s good football."
Redskins Finding Alfred Morris as a Gem, and Other Scouting
(On what he knew about Alfred Morris coming out of college and what has made him so effective this year)- "We liked him and he’s done a nice job running the football. Mike Shanahan has done a nice job of finding backs at that point in the draft and having success with them. I think this is just another example. He’s a good player and he’s done well for them this year."
(On why Shanahan is able to find running backs like that)- "I don’t know. He’s worked with numerous personnel guys who do the background work on it and they’ve tended to hit on guys like that. It’s a good job by them."
(On the Redskins being near the bottom of the league in terms of giving up touchdown passes and if it is due to other teams playing catch up against them)- "That may be a good reason for it because when I watch them play defense I sense a defense that challenges. I see a defense that can rush the passer. They don’t mind pressuring. I see guys on the back end that can cover. I don’t pay much attention to that."
(On how hard it is for a player like Kirk Cousins who was put in game late last week and was still able to execute)- "Until you’re a starter in this league, of course, you’re a backup. That goes without saying. You have to be able to come in and function at a high level at the most critical point in the game. It’s a credit to Kirk, it’s a credit to their coaches. He was ready to play, he came in, executed a third down throw, scrambled around, got him in the end zone and, of course, executed a quarterback draw to tie the game and the rest of his work in overtime. That’s a credit to them. I’m assuming that he has little or no reps with the first offense during the week. That’s a guy being ready and making the best of his opportunities."
(On what he liked about Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan when he studied them in the offseason)- "Those were two big time free agents in the receiver group and we obviously spent a lot of time studying them. Pierre Garcon is fast, he’s a good player. He’s a very good receiver in all areas. I think they did a good thing by bringing him on board. Josh Morgan was the same way. Josh is a very tough receiver, a very gritty guy. They picked up two really fine players."
Thoughts on the Browns' Impressive Defense
(On if he is surprised on how well the 4-3 defense is working right now)- "No, I’m not surprised. I think it’s fair to say that we had a make a transition last year. This year, we’ve had two years in the system with most of the same players with the addition of some young players that are helping and once they pick up the scheme, I’m not surprised."
(On if the depth on the defensive line is more paramount in a game like this because the players could get tired chasing Griffin around)- "You’d like to stop him before he gets going so you don’t have to run so far. That’s, of course, a joke. Yeah, it’s important we use our same rotation as we’ve done the last few weeks. You want the guys to be out there and be able to give you fresh explosive snaps. I think that’s important throughout the game."
(On how steady John Hughes and Billy Winn’s production has been even with the return of Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin)- "Their role has changed, of course, when you get (Ahtyba) Rubin and (Phil) Taylor back, but they’re still showing up. I think a little bit of what I just talked about, they have a chance now to have fewer, but fresher and more explosive snaps. I think that’s what we’re getting."
Bringing Brad Smelley Up to the Active Roster
(On moving up Brad Smelley to the active roster)- "We’ve liked what we’ve seen from him throughout. We know a lot about him, of course, from training camp and then his work on the practice squad. We just wanted to make him active and have him available in the event, as we go through these next few weeks, we need him to play."
(On if the other tight ends are all healthy)- "Yeah, everything is fine."