Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media on Thursday to talk about how John Greco became a member of the Browns, possibly looking at Billy Winn playing defensive end, whether Jordan Norwood could be on his way back, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic below.
Energy Level Coming Out of the Bye
(On if he has seen a renewed energy from the players after the bye week)- "I think the energy level has been good, but I thought our energy level was good the way we practiced all the way through. Maybe it’s just fresher because they’ve been gone a few days, but no, the guys have been practicing hard. They’re into it."
(On if there are some things he wants to see from certain players over the last seven games)- "I think generally speaking I want to see these guys improve from an efficiency standpoint, the way we operate. I want to see all the young players take another jump and you said it in your question, we need to make improvements pointed to our winning football games. With the first - and it’s a narrow minded view - with the first being this Sunday."
(On the strengths of the team at this point in the season)- "I think our guys play extremely hard, number one. I think we’re becoming more efficient in all areas. I think in some situations we’re getting a little healthier. I’m looking forward to seeing us compete."
Phil Dawson Being a Beast
(On what makes Phil Dawson so good)- "I think he’s one of the outstanding kickers of this league. I’m fond of the way he practices, I’m fond of the way he prepares and he’s just clutch. There’s some guys that are just clutch at doing what they do and I think that’s what separates some guys from being great to good to not so good. He’s displayed by producing the way he does that he’s one of the great kickers."
(On what Phil Dawson does in practice)- "I think he approaches practice with the same intensity he does the game. I know for a fact he tries to recreate the kicks in practice like they’re going to happen in the game, how he does it emotionally and mentally and whatnot. He just tries to recreate it in practice so it happens in the game."
Random Information on OL John Greco
(On how John Greco has played since he came into the lineup)- "I think he’s done a good job. I don’t see a real drop off from him being in there obviously, replacing (Jason) Pinkston. He’s done a pretty solid job. There’s areas he needs to get better, but for the most part he’s done a pretty good job."
(On what went into the trade that brought Greco to Cleveland and if he knew him)- "I knew him. We’re all aware of the players that are available and we brought him here with the idea that he could be – he is a multiple position guy and essentially he’s been a backup, but I’ve seen him play in a starting role in St. Louis because we were juggling. I saw him play guard, I saw him play center, he was our backup center and he also played a game at tackle against the 49ers. When you’re a backup player initially you’ve got to be somewhat multiple and that’s initially what intrigued me about getting him here. I had worked with him so I kind of knew what to expect. That’s not atypical. He’s done a good job going in as a starter at this point."
(On if Greco is a good run blocker and there was a correlation to a successful stretch Stephen Jackson had when they were in St. Louis even though Jackson is a good back)- "I think he works well with the guys he’s playing with and I think he can be a good run blocker. You’re right, Stephen Jackson is a pretty good runner. It’s all tied together. It’s hard to point to him being there or not being there the reason why you’re running the ball well or not running the ball well, but I think he’s done a pretty good job."
Figuring Out Which Receivers to Play, and an Update on Norwood
(On how Mohamed Massaquoi looked yesterday)- "He practiced well."
(On if can he keep all of his receivers active and what goes into the decision behind who won’t be active)- "I don’t think we can keep them all up, but we’ll decide as the week goes on. We’ve just got to watch them play, see how they respond."
(On if there is a similarity in style between Josh Gordon and Dez Bryant)- "I think so. They are very similar in stature. I’m not as familiar with Dez Bryant because I haven’t worked with him. Just watching him on tape, I see a lot of the similar type stuff."
(On if there is a receiver that Gordon reminds him of)- "If you just look at him size wise you could probably name off taller, sudden, big receivers. I think you’d start there. I guess I’d hold back on comparisons. I’m going to hold back on that right now."
(On if Jordan Norwood is on track to practice next week)- "We’ll have to see as he gets out. He hasn’t practiced yet, which of course he can’t by rule. I know that rule. We’ll have to see. When it’s time for him to come back, we’ll take a good look at him, and see where he’s at physically."
Assessing Trent Richardson
(On how he goes about getting the ball to Trent Richardson in space)- "In our game plans we have ways for him to run the ball inside, off tackle, outside the defense and then you see we run them on wide routes out of the backfield as part of a progression. If they take away the ball down the field then you throw the ball to him in the flat and then there are other types of routes he runs. What we ask him to do is somewhat multiple, whether we’re handing it to him or he’s part of a pass progression where he may get a catch."
(On how far Richardson’s mentality can take him in this league)- "He’s a tough guy, he’s a competitive guy and I think he knows his body better than anybody. He’s had a chance to play a bunch of games now where he’s less than 100%, but I think most guys in the league now are playing at less than 100%. I think he’s looking forward to getting out there and playing and I think so much of this game is above the neck. I’m looking forward to seeing him compete."
(On if he would like to see more production in terms of yardage on Richardson’s receptions)- "There’s time when you throw it to the running back in a situation where they back out on you. Yeah, you always want to try to get more yards out of the throws that you make, but there’s times where we try to throw it to him too as an effort to get him the football. Really if you think about it on first or second down or you’re not trying to get a specific number of yardage, you add those pass catches up with those runs and that’s partly how the back’s production is figured in."
Working on Special Teams Coverage
(On how he assesses the kickoff coverage unit in terms of growth and if he is pleased with where they are at)- "I don’t want to overstate it, but I think the special teams units in general this year have done a very fine job. You don’t ever want to give up a kick and Adam Jones ran it back on us where we missed a bunch of tackles, but that had nothing to do with scheme and our guys have tightened it up. I think they’ve been contributing and just generally speaking have performed pretty well."
(On if he still spends the same amount of time during the practice week on special teams as he did during the beginning of the season)- "Absolutely, we do everything the same as we move forward. If we ever added to a practice or we ever cut from a practice, you cut proportional on offense, defense and special teams. I think the process stays the same. We worked like hell on it like last year and we didn’t get the results we wanted. We’ve continued to work hard on it and we’re getting better results. That’s just the way it goes."
Considering Billy Winn at DE
(On how much time Billy Winn is getting at defensive end and if he sees potential for him there)- "I think there’s potential for him to be a good player out there because he’s a good athlete. He’s a big man. He’s got some suddenness to him. He knows how to pass rush. I think he’s got a chance to make plays out there."
Play From the Safeties on Defense
(On what he’s seen from the safety position this year)- "I think we’ve had different combinations of guys in there. It all works in unison. Those guys are obviously very involved in run support. We do play a lot of single safety coverage. They are battling. They’re contributing."
(On if he’s seen improvement from T.J. Ward and Usama Young)- "I think as the year has gone on, they are working better together. They are making improvements."
(On if he would tell T.J. Ward to do anything different regarding his penalty for roughing the passer on Joe Flacco)- "He tried to swat the ball away, but he’s got to be very aware of the fact that you cannot make contact in the head and you can’t make contact with his head. That’s something they know. It can be difficult, but we’re all trying to do things the right way."
Quarterbacks Being Protected Too Much
(On if we are heading to a day where quarterbacks are going to be off limits due to concussions)- "I don’t know that. It’s a physical game and the league has done an outstanding job of trying to protect the quarterback. I think this weekend was a unique weekend with the number of quarterbacks that didn’t finish their game and that happens. In this league things kind of come in bunches sometimes so I wouldn’t point to any trends. All I know is that the league does the very best that they can to keep players safe. I know behind the scenes all the stuff that goes on regarding the education from the coaches to the players in terms of how to play. You want a tough physical game and unfortunately injuries are the unintended consequence of the tough physical game. We all just need to keep in mind that everybody’s trying to do what we can to keep the players safe."
(On if suspensions will be warranted for players committing helmet to helmet hits instead of just fines)- "I don’t know. I don’t know how punitive you need to be. I think it’s important that we do what we can to keep the players safe. As coaches we need to educate our players on how to play the game and when guys cross the line or break the rules there’s going to be consequences."
(On guys sometimes ducking their heads and unintentionally causing a helmet to helmet hit)- "I think there’s times when the player does not intend to, but just the size difference sometimes and there are probably some inadvertent helmet to helmet contacts where guys are penalized. Again, I don’t know if there’s a perfect way to legislate that or officiate that, but what rings true to me is don’t him them in the head with your head and I think that’s something that we try to coach."
Loose Ends About the Cowboys
(On what makes Dez Bryant so dynamic)- "You just look at him. Physically he’s big, he can run and he’s got great ball skills so he has all the things you’re looking for in a big time threat. (Tony) Romo does a good job of putting the ball where he can go get it."
(On if there is a point of emphasis going against people you know like Rob Ryan and Jerome Henderson)- "I don’t know Rob Ryan. Of course I’ve got great respect for what he’s done as a defensive coordinator. I know Jerome. He worked here a year ago. He made a professional decision to go join the Cowboys’ staff, which happens a lot. He did an outstanding job when he was here. I know the men, or know of them, and obviously know Jerome more than I know Rob. Knowing their styles, you still have to watch the tape and see how those coaches working with those players what it looks like. I said it yesterday, I think you can overthink that, ‘I know he’s going to do this.’ Then you start going back and forth. I think what’s important is you watch the tape and try to put the players against the players."