Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur spoke with the local media after the team's OTA session on Wednesday. Among the topics he talked about heavily were the size difference of wide receiver Greg Little, the expectations for running back Montario Hardesty, the plan for the second set of OTA sessions, and more. The news conference is organized by topic after the jump.
The Plan for This Set of OTA Sessions
(Opening Statement)- "It’s week two of the OTA process here and I think the guys worked well. We’re trying to introduce one phase of situational football each day and we did some two-minute at the end of practice, which I think the guys handled well. I’m more interested in going through the mechanics of it from calling the plays and getting the defense lined up and whatnot and I thought they functioned well.
One thing I would caution you against is looking out there and trying to decide who is a starter and who is a backup. I think right now we’re just out there, at most positions, competing and trying to get better. I feel good about the work we got done today and we’ll try to back it up tomorrow and Friday with two more practices with this structure.
Next week we will have a minicamp structure, which is our mandatory minicamp, so the players will have technically a travel day on Monday and then Tuesday and Wednesday will feel like an in-season Wednesday practice because the two-a-days, as we know, are gone which will be a walk-through and a practice. Thursday then would feel like an in-season Friday practice, which would be a practice just minus the walk-through. That’s what the minicamp should feel like and then we’ll try to go back and review the things we did in the first six OTA’s and through the minicamp structure and then finish up the next week of course with four OTA’s. That’s where we’re at, it’s a beautiful day, I think we got a lot of work done."
Brandon Weeden Getting First Team Reps
(On if it meant anything that Brandon Weeden took first team reps today)- "I don’t think you can read into that. I think last week Colt (McCoy) started all of the team drills. This week, or at least today and it will change throughout the week, we had Brandon start the drill, but they all got similar amount of reps with guys that are competing at the skill positions to be starters. I wouldn’t read into that, no."
All About Greg Little (Lengthy)
(On how Greg Little’s leaner physical appearance is translating on the field)- "I’ve seen him look a lot quicker, a lot more sudden and I think to this point he has caught the ball at a much more consistent rate and he just looks like a different guy to me. A guy that’s been through it once and to his credit, and again let’s not tell him I said this, but to his credit he has done a really nice job of getting his body into the right kind of shape he needs to be in to be a receiver in this league."
(On if Little was encouraged by the organization to be in better shape)- "Greg and I, we spoke often throughout the year and of course just trying to counsel him on how to be a pro and part of it is taking care of your body. I think he did reshape his body in some ways and it’s a credit to him."
(On how much of Little’s transition to the NFL was delayed because he did not have a senior season at UNC)- "That may have delayed it some. I think he also did not have a traditional offseason. He got hit with a double-whammy, so to speak. I know he worked out extremely hard on his own, but it’s hard to get the same kind of work that you get when you are here working with the guys."
(On if he knew Little would need extra care when he was drafted)- "I think when you look at his history and the reason why he didn’t play his senior year, we obviously wanted to take that into account when we drafted him. We feel like he’s got skill and ability and we want to work with him. Just like I’ve talked you about numerous times, I’ve talked to Greg quite frequently. When you coach him he is very coachable. You can whisper at him or yell at him. It’s not his first rodeo, he’s been coached before, and he takes it and I think he has been listening. When I had my exit interview with him in January, I basically told him that he needed to do everything he can in this offseason to make a huge jump for his second year. I think he’s got a good start on that."
(On how good he thinks Little can be)- "I don’t know. We drafted him with the idea that he could be a starter in this league and be very productive."
(On if Little has already done that)- "He has already done that, but I think we can all agree and he would be the first one to tell you that he needs to be more consistent. I think that being in better shape, having a better understanding of what he has to do, that will help him with that consistency. A lot of these guys can do it once, the key is over the grind of the season, being able to do it over and over and over consistently well. I think that’s what him being in better shape will give him a chance to do."
(On what Little did to improve himself)- "I know he worked on his nutrition and weight lifting. He’s always been a guy that’s kind of a very dense guy that’s got a lot of muscle tone."
(On what a receiver can to do to improve dropping the ball)- "You work on the fundamentals of catching the football. We try to avoid saying, when a ball is dropped, ‘Hey, catch the ball.’ It’s about focusing on a small point, it’s about your eyes and your fingers and catching the tip and all of those things. We have an increased number of drills that we do and I think you’ll find in coaching and teaching that you get what you emphasize and we’ve emphasized it a great deal. He’s (Little) embraced working at it and we’re hopeful it will show up that way once we start playing for real."
(On evaluating Little’s hands)- "I think he has very good hands. I think he’s got NFL hands."
(On if it is a little more complicated than just the fundamentals of catching a football)- "Most skills in football are a little more complicated than just saying, ‘Hey, block the guy,’ or ‘Hey, catch the ball,’ and those are the things we try to zero in on when we coach players, to hit them on the details and the fine points of it."
(On what catching the tip means)- "When the ball spins at you, what you see is the tip and so then you try to catch the tip."
Faith in the Wide Receivers in General
(On how much confidence they have in the receiving corps)- "I think the players that are here and their development is what we are hopeful will make a receiving corps that we need. Then you add the new players, of course, a couple of whom have showed up and then you put it all together. Then you get better play from all of the positions around them and I think it is going to be what we think it should be."
(On how much Nolan Cromwell will help the receivers)- "I think Mike Wilson did a nice job with them last year, but again I had Nolan on the radar because I worked with Nolan in St. Louis. He’s just a fine teacher and I think when you add a fine teacher to the group it helps. Nolan has done a nice job. He and Mike work extremely well with the receivers and we have a good situation because in team drills, they can work sides and the guys can get immediate attention. I think that works out well and Nolan is a great addition."
The Running Back Situation, and Where Montario Hardesty Stands
(On the play of the running backs compared to midseason last year)- "I think they are all out here healthy and they are all here competing and they are getting they’re reps, but the reps that they are getting, they can be fresh because there is a lot of them right now and they all look quick. I think Montario looks good. I’m getting used to watching the new number. Brandon Jackson’s healthy, he looked quick to me. Chris Ogbonnaya is very consistent and he also looked like he gave himself a chance to compete because he is in good shape, not to mention Trent (Richardson)."
(On if he had a conversation with Hardesty after they drafted Richardson)- "I think it’s part of the business. The players are aware that you’re going to draft players at their position at some time in their career, so when we are out here competing, determining who’s going to be the starter and who’s going to be the roll players, they know what’s up. These are pro players, they are used to competing, and they’re used to being in these team situations where they have had to fight for everything. I think Montario is handling it very well."
(On if he ever saw Hardesty at 100% last year)- "I thought I saw him play very well against Miami. I think that was his high watermark for me and he did a nice job. I’m hopeful that he will come back in great shape for training camp when we put the pads on and start getting banged around."
Other Standout Rookies
(On if there are any rookie or young defensive backs that are standing out)- "I think that in the secondary, (Tashaun) Gipson has flashed a little bit at safety. I think Trevin (Wade) has done a nice job at corner. Young players, I still look at T.J. Ward and Eric Hagg as young players in my mind. Weeden is older than them, right (joking)? I am teasing of course, but I think they are doing a nice job. For the defensive backs, there are certain things that they can’t do that will make some of our guys stand out more. We’re not allowed to bump-and-run out here, we’re obviously not running the ball out here so you’re not seeing guys tackle. So there are some facets to their game that we’re going to have to wait and see once we put the pads on."
Offensive Line Restricted
(On if the offensive line is restricted during OTAs)- "Yeah it is, but I think the NFL way is you practice without pads on quite frequently, even during the year. They get used to coming off, using their hands and their pad level. What you can see it their body position, their pad level, when they get off and their finish. We can see a lot of what we need to see, but again, the whole team needs to be involved in the physicalness of training camp and the preseason games."
Marcus Benard's Status
(On what he has seen from Marcus Bernard)- "He looks like a different guy, physically, to me as well. He’s much leaner, he looks much more fit and he’s flashed just in the little bit you can see from defensive linemen. He looks to me like he is putting himself in position to have a good camp and that’s good."
(On if he is impressed that Bernard is able to be here after what happened)- "I am glad he’s here and I think we all go through things in life that refocus us on doing things the right way and allowing us to be able to continue to do the things that are important to us. He’s done that, he looks like he is in good shape and I am glad he is here to help compete and make this team."
Absences and Injuries
(On if Scott Fujita is at his appeal hearing today)- "Yes, you probably know more details about that, but that’s where he is at."
(On updates on Brian Schaefering and Eddie Williams)- "Schaefering is doing great. I wouldn’t say he is ahead of schedule, but initially we thought he would be here for training camp, but he’s looking and feeling very good so we might be able to get something out of him the last week here of the offseason. We will wait and see, but he is doing very well. Then Eddie Williams, his back is a little stiff, but he is okay."
(On what was wrong with Schaefering)- "He had groin surgery, a sports hernia."