Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media after Day 24 of training camp to talk about the backup quarterback battle, the return of LB D'Qwell Jackson to practice, how LB Craig Robertson is doing, and more. After the jump, Shurmur's news conference is organized by topic. Don't forget to check out our report on Day 24 of training camp.
Opening Statement / Sloppy Practice
(Opening Statement) – "Well, fortunately we got it all in before the rain came. It looked like it was threatening a little bit. We got a full practice in and got the field clear before any rain or any lightening, so it was a good day’s work. I thought it was a little sloppy in some ways. Coming back after the day off, sometimes that happens, especially early. I thought by the end, they were focused in and we got a lot more done, which was good. Now we just keep going through it. Our guys will be out of the hotel on Thursday. We have one more week of full day’s work and night meetings and it’s important that we keep our foot on the gas and get as good as we can get before we actually move out of the hotel and go to the last phase of training camp. That’s where we’re at. It was a work day and the guys handled it well. It started out, as I mentioned, a little bit sloppy, but they finished up strong. With that being said, I’ll take your questions."
Injury Updates - TE Ben Watson, LB D'Qwell Jackson, and More
(On if Benjamin Watson is not ready for team practice) – "He’s working himself back into practice. He did mostly individual today, and he’ll do a little bit more tomorrow, and so on."
(On D’Qwell Jackson returning to practice and his importance) – "I’ve spoken numerous times about what he means to this team, not just as a player, but as a leader. When he’s back out there, it adds to what we can do. The good news though, while he has been out, I’ve watched some young linebackers get in there and make the best of their opportunities so they can play around him. That’s the good news. Of course, we want all of our guys that we’ve slotted as starters to be out there working all the time and fortunately he’s getting back on the field."
(On if there is an injury update on Emmanuel Acho) – "No, he’ll be out here soon."
Chemistry With the Wide Receivers
(On the overall chemistry between Brandon Weeden and his receivers) – "I think they’re getting to know each other pretty well. That happens when you take lots of reps together. The longer you work with someone, the better that chemistry becomes and the stronger it gets. I think we’re right on pace for it to be very good once the season starts. As you go through practice, of course, not all the plays are pretty. Sometimes you’re trying to get away with something. Sometimes it’s just a bad throw or sometimes it’s a drop. That’s why you practice, so that you minimize and eliminate those mistakes."
(On Travis Benjamin and how he has handled the physical nature of the game) – "I think he has come out and done the things you need to do as a receiver. He’s naturally very fast. He’s displayed an ability to run good routes. He catches the ball, and what I’ve seen him do is catch the ball in traffic. I don’t know who was concerned, but whoever they were, you can let them know, he’s making good progress."
Backup Quarterback Competition
(On how the backup quarterback position will pan out) – "I don’t see a real urgency right now to settle that. Everybody’s out there working hard. Week one, it will pretty much be unveiled who’s two and who’s three. I don’t necessarily see the drama in it quite frankly. They’re working through it."
(On if he will use all four preseason games to decide the backup quarterback) – "Yes, absolutely. I think I’ve seen all the quarterbacks improve. When I say improve, the ones that were here a year ago are playing better than they did last year. I think Colt (McCoy), Seneca (Wallace) and Thad (Lewis) are all performing better than they did a year ago, and that’s a credit to them. We’ll just continue to let that play out."
Claiming Craig Robertson, and His Progress
(On why the team claimed Craig Robertson near the end of the 2011 season) – "We claimed him because he was a player that we had like. When there are players out there that you can claim that you feel good about then you go get them. It’s a credit to our scouting department, (Tom) Heckert, (Jon) Sandusky and (John) Spytek and all the guys that work in scouting that they saw his skill and ability, and they brought him here. "
(On if Robertson is better than they thought) – "I don’t know if he’s better than what we thought he’d be, but I think he’s performing at a pretty high level here through training camp. I think he has done an outstanding job."
Expectations for the Eagles Game, and Evaluating Players
(On how he expects his breakdown of Friday’s game to go) – "We haven’t finalized that yet, because we don’t have a final injury report that we work off of. I think it’s fair to say that our ones or the guys that line up as ones will play a half or a little more, maybe a little less. It worked out for the offense that we had 40 plays by halftime, which is unique for a preseason game. That was really good work. We got a half of football in 40 plays. You can’t always count on that, so we’re going to have to reserve the ability to change that plan."
(On if they are being evaluated on a daily basis) – "I’ll tell you what. Whether you’re a one, a two or a three, everyone is getting evaluated. Every step that they take, we video, and that’s what we spend all our time doing. We go in there and watch it, and we correct it. We just keep evaluating everything that goes on, and then at some point we make a decision when we have to line them up. That’s where it is. It’s fair to say that everything that happens out there involving players, coaches, systems, how we communicate, how we do business, everything is being evaluated."
Talking Up FB Owen Marecic
(On Owen Marecic as a fullback and his expectations of him this year) – "I think he’s a guy that does a nice job blocking from the backfield. That’s primarily where he plays, whether he’s in front of the halfback or offset one way or the other. He does a good job with his lead blocks, when we throw him the football he catches the ball well and I think he’s very good at knowing who to block in pass protection. I think those are three things that are most important. Obviously, the last thing you would expect is for the fullback to get a bunch of carries, but if we hand him the football we feel like he can get us a few yards as well."
(On if Marecic if a physical or smart blocker) – "I think he’s a tough player and I think he plays the position well. Fullbacks need to be tough and physical, which I think he is."
Timetable for Richardson's Return, and Hardesty's Performance
(On if there is a timetable for Trent Richardson’s return) – "He’s getting better every day so his progress has been outstanding. I think he’s ten days out now, so he’s about where we thought he’d be at this point, probably a little bit ahead of that. He’ll be out here soon."
(On how Montario Hardesty has done with his opportunity) – "If the question is regarding Montario, I thought he did a nice job the other night minus the first play. It’s like saying we would have won the game if we didn’t give up that big long pass. You can’t do that and he understands that. What he did do was he came back after a very bad play and did a lot of nice things during the game, which tells me that he shut off that mistake and he moved forward which was good. (He) had some good hard runs in there, did a nice job on pass protection a couple of times and I think he’s making progress."
(On what are Hardesty’s traits that appeal to him as a coach) – "I’m going to first compare him now to last year. What appealed to me was this guy got himself healthy and in shape which tells me he’s got some intestinal fortitude. There’s some toughness there and I’ve seen him in this training camp compete extremely well and at a high level. To this point, at least he has displayed an ability to stay healthy. Those are probably the intangible things I look at and then I think he has run the ball well. (He has had) some good hard runs. He’s caught the ball better this year and I think he’s getting more comfortable with the pass protection. I haven’t at all been disappointed in his performance."
Mitchell Schwartz Against the Packers, and the Rookie DT's
(On if Mitchell Schwartz improved in his second game) – "Yes, I thought he improved quite a bit. Quite frankly, I thought it was a style of game where he’s probably ahead in run blocking as opposed to his pass blocking. We were able to run the ball on a consistent basis, which helped him have more good plays. I thought he pass protected better. Now, the scheme we’re going to face this week, which is a kind of a wide-nine quick front four, is very similar to the Detroit scheme. So, he’ll get a chance to go back and remember some of the mistakes he made against those type rushers and put it to task here this week."
(On what he likes from John Hughes and Billy Winn and if there are any concerns) – "They are both young and they play hard. They’re out here and everything is new and fresh and they’re playing hard and trying to learn as much as they can and I think that’s good. When they’ve gotten in the game, they’ve done a pretty fine job, so you just want to see them continue to progress. Same thing when they match up against different styles of offense. We’ll see a fast offense this week. The Eagles are a quick, fast team and it’ll be important for those guys to defeat their blocks and obviously, be ready to tackle either the quarterback or the back. So, a little different than some of the other teams we face in this division where it’s more of a pounding type of deal. Each matchup is a little bit different. I think to this point, Wynn and Hughes have done a good job of progressing and as you put the matchups together they’ll learn something new each time."
Cutting K Jeff Wolfert and Filling His Roster Spot
(On releasing Jeff Wolfert) – "We feel like we know what we’re going to do at that position and as we move along here there could be some changes to the roster and that’s a spot."
(On if we could see Spencer Lanning place kicking) – "(We) could."