Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media after Day 9 of training camp to talk about the linebackers in general now that Chris Gocong is out, Family Fun Day being a little different this year, and more. After the jump, Shurmur's news conference is organized by topic. Don't forget to check out our report on Day 9 of training camp.
Chris Gocong's Injury & Fixing Mistakes
(Opening Statement)- "It was another good practice. You are probably going to ask about Chris Gocong who left. They are evaluating his ankle, and we’ll see so I’ll know more here at some point. I’m sure it will get released if there’s something extended to his injury. It looked like, from what we could tell, he just jumped up in the air, and then came down on it so we’re having it evaluated. With that being said, I thought the practice was good. There were a lot of coachable moments out there. We saw some big plays. We saw a couple big plays that we have to make. We saw a situation where a receiver caught a ball then stopped running when he could have scored a touchdown. He’ll never do that again. You don’t go through it unless you practice it. I think that’s something that we can learn from and that’s why you do these things. We got some situational work in. I really felt like, again, we made some progress today."
(On if he thinks Chris Gocong’s injury is ankle related)- "We’re hoping that whatever the injury is that it’s not a long term thing, but we’ll know here. He’ll be sent for an MRI and we’ll know for sure if it’s something that we have to deal with more than a couple days."
(On if he will look outside to get another linebacker if Chris Gocong is out for a long time)- "I think we’re going to have to evaluate that once we know the final outcome if this is a major injury."
(On if he thinks the team bounced back after Gocong’s injury)- "Yeah, I think they did. I think we have enough veteran guys around here, and quite frankly anybody that’s come to our team has played enough football where they’ve seen injuries happen. As I mentioned, it’s the unintended consequence of this game. I thought they bounced back fine."
Editor's Note: It was since learned that Gocong's season is over after he ruptured his Achilles' tendon.
Replacement Linebackers for Gocong
(On if Kaluka Maiava and James Michael Johnson play either outside position)- "Yeah, they are very flexible position wise. They really can play inside as well, Kaluka, JMJ, and some of the young linebackers that we have on our roster. Anytime there’s an injury, it’s unfortunate when it happens. It’s the unintended consequence of playing this game. As safe as you try to be sometimes it happens. It drives the coach nuts for sure. I worry about that when we come out here. You don’t want to see guys get hurt. I think the important thing though, is when that happens, you quickly get your eye right back on the ball and you get guys in there that can compete. It’s also a lesson to guys that play behind people, it’s a play away from being in there and being in there full time. That’s what you have to learn from that."
(On Craig Robertson and L.J. Fort possibly getting more snaps)- "I think those are two guys that have also caught our eye. I think they are both guys that if they make the club here, are immediately going to be special teams contributors in a big way. They’ve both made plays, obviously in the scrimmage drills. They are two young guys that we’re very hopeful for."
(On what he’s seeing from Kaluka Maiava)- "Kaluka is obviously a very fine football player. He first established himself as a special teams player and he’s very effective in scrimmage downs as well. We anticipate that he’ll be one year better in our scheme and one year better as a player."
(On how Maiava compensates for being a smaller linebacker)- "He’s bigger than you (joking). There are a lot of linebackers in the league, although they may not be tall, they’re not small. He’s kind of a thickly built guy. Even though he’s not tall, he’s pretty powerful."
(On linebacker being a bad position for injury because of Scott Fujita’s suspension)- "I don’t want an injury at any position. We just keep moving ahead and we’ll find out again what’s wrong with Chris. We’ll find out how long he’ll be out and then we’ll keep moving forward. Nothing can stop the train, we’ve got to keep going."
Family Fun Day at the Stadium Being Different This Year
(On why they moved the stadium practice to Wednesday instead of Saturday)- "It was just some scheduling. We wanted to make sure the field was in the right condition and then we wanted to look at it on a week night. We’re just kind of adjusting it to see. There’s no real firm rhyme or reason to it. We wanted it to be an outstanding experience for our fans. We feel like doing it at night. It is a good thing. It will be the same structure really as last year, we’re just going to do it on a weeknight, and see what kind of response we get."
Mitchell Schwartz & Jason Pinkston Growing
(On what he’s seen with Mitchell Schwartz and Jabaal Sheard going against each other)- "I think the battles have been good. You’ll find that Jabaal will get him once in a while. What I’m seeing though is, you’re seeing Mitchell kind of adjust his sets and get a little bit better with his hands each day. Going against one another helps both of them I think. At this point in camp, of course everybody’s a little dead-legged so you don’t see that zip that we’ll get back in their legs when it gets to be game time. The competition is good and I think they are both handling it very well."
(On Joe Thomas saying that Jason Pinkston has made improvements this year and if he has seen that as well)- "I have. He’s another guy that it’s a little bit different mindset for him coming in. He’s pretty much in there playing now. There’s really no confusion about am I paying on the right side, left side. He’s in there playing, and he’s playing next to Joe, and there is synergy. When you get those five guys playing together a long time, then the unit tends to get better as the individuals get better. Joe’s as close to him as anybody so he would know."
Jabaal Sheard, The Other D-Linemen, and Joe Haden's Interceptions
(On if he would expect Sheard to take another step after having a good rookie season)- "Yeah, I think he will. Again, I think he switched sides in the middle of the year last year. This year, he’s kind of getting honed in. I see him on my right, but I know he’s on the left. He’s getting honed in on that side earlier. Anything you do more than once, there should be a big jump between one and two. I think this year he will make improvement."
(On how the backup defensive linemen are performing in camp so far)- "They’re in there battling. You see some give and take here during training camp, they’re in there battling and working hard and I see improvement from them as well. Everybody out there competing has a chance to play and I think they’re looking at it that way."
(On if there is an emphasis on working with Joe Haden on getting more interceptions)- "I think through the offseason, and as you evaluate last year we’ve talked about that with Joe. Usually you get what you emphasize, and if it shows up in practice, that’s the best chance to have it show up in a game. He’s getting his hands on balls now. His coverage is tight. I think he’s having a good camp to this point."
Jimmy Haslam Speaking to Shurmur at the End of Practice
(On what Jimmy Haslam was asking him at the end of practice)- "I will keep our conversations private, but he’s interested in the operation and he’s watching it with fresh eyes so he has questions about how we do things. I think it’s something that he’s out there trying to learn and get up to speed with what we’re doing, how we do things, why we do certain drills so that he can become educated on our process, of course. I feel like he’s really excited to own this football team. I’ve enjoyed our conversations to this point."
(On if he has had a long conversation with Haslam)- "We’ve spoken quite a bit, sure."