Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media prior to Wednesday's practice. He talked about the team's Week 2 honorary captain (DE Frostee Rucker), how the team will handle CB Joe Haden's suspension, whether RB Trent Richardson had any swelling, and more. Shurmur's news conference transcript is organized by topic after the jump.
Opening Statement & DE Frostee Rucker as the 4th Captain
(Opening statement)- "Just for the record when we’re in here I know we all have a job to do and listen, I only joke with people I admire. I know you guys have a hard job to do so just keep that in mind. I think there’s a time when a little sense of humor helps things. Would you all agree? That being said, this week’s game captain will be Frostee Rucker. I think it’s a good choice and he played for the Bengals, I just don’t want him to peak too soon. I think he’s done a lot of good things since he’s come to town and he’s displayed some of the veteran leadership that you need to see. I appreciate that and our players chose him to be the fourth captain. I think it’s a good choice. Otherwise, it will sound a little bit redundant like it is as you develop a routine to play the next opponent, but its Wednesday. We’re working on base, getting ready to play Cincinnati."
Pokorny's Thoughts: I think Rucker makes sense as the fourth captain this week. Up until this year, he spent his career in Cincinnati and will be fired up to face his old team. He also had a solid effort in Week 1, and Shurmur surely wants the defense to continue building upon that momentum.
Dealing With Joe Haden's Suspension
(On how tough of a blow it is to the secondary with Joe Haden suspended)- "We’re going to miss Joe for a month and the next guys in there will do a good job. I’m very confident that the players we have on this team will go in and challenge and play extremely well. That’s just the way it goes and we’re all aware of the rules so we move forward."
(On if he was disappointed that Haden got in trouble)- "Joe had an outstanding training camp, I think he made plays throughout the preseason and then in our first game he had some real good plays. We had these conversations, I anticipate that when he comes back he’ll pick up where he left off."
(On if Haden expressed any remorse or apologized to him)- "Joe and I had a lot of conversations behind the scenes. I’ll keep that between he and I."
(On how Haden’s suspension affects the defensive scheme)- "I think defensively scheme-wise you’re always flexible. If you have a guy who you think is your number one corner you can put him on their number one receiver, it’s all perceived or you can play it right and left. We will hold our plan until gameday. You’re always ready defensively to do either and I think we’ll just see how it unfolds."
(On if the suspension of Haden caused him to address his team about the rules)- "No, we constantly inform our players about the rules in all situations. This is something that happened. Anytime something happens it brings light to it, you just reinforce it, but there’s a constant process that I take our team through as we inform them about any NFL rule. You have to do it over and over and over because you always have new guys on the team so you just repeat that process."
(On if first round draft picks like Haden should be held to a higher standard)- "I think that all the players are held to a very high standard, regardless of where they were drafted and picked. We choose players because we think they can play for us, either in a starting or a backup role. I would hold any player to the same standard, I think that’s important. Your better players, you expect more out of them, in terms of you expect them to make great plays. You hope that all your players become great players. You just expect the fact that they play efficient, hard nose football, and who knows when a big play’s going to show up."
Pokorny's Thoughts: Long-term, I don't think this hurts Haden's future with the team or reputation with the fans, unless he tanks big time upon his return. He will certainly be missed, but thankfully, Cleveland has some depth at the position as to not have a major hole.
Adjustments at Cornerback to Accommodate Haden's Absense
(On if Sheldon Brown will be at practice today)- "Yeah, Sheldon will be out there."
(On if Dimitri Patterson will replace Joe Haden on the outside and if Buster Skrine will see some playing time in three receiver sets)- "If you do the math, that makes sense."
(On if Trevin Wade was inactive last Sunday because of special teams)- "Yeah, he was inactive, but there’s a chance he’ll be active this week. I think when you factor in the corners if you’re a down-the-line corner or a role play corner you have to have a big role. We kept Johnson Bademosi up, but Trevin does a nice job on special teams. If he’s up this week, I’m sure he will contribute well."
Pokorny's Thoughts: The Browns are paying Patterson starter-like money, and he's going to earn in. In two-receiver sets, he will be on the field. In three-receiver sets, Patterson will shift to the slot and Skrine will play on the outside. I would expect Wade to be active as the dime back this week.
LB Scott Fujita Returning to Practice & If He'll Play Sunday
(On Scott Fujita being back and if he will start on Sunday)- "Scott is going to work in there in our base defense and again we’re going to watch him go through practice and see how much he can handle based on the practice reps. Again, that will be a kind of a game-time scheme thing, but I’ll hold final judgment on that until the end of the week, but he’ll be out there today."
No Swelling or Concerns With Trent Richardson
(On how Trent Richardson responded from the game on Sunday)- "He did great. He came in the next day, which is just a few hours after the game, and there was no swelling or anything that happened in the game that would set him back. I anticipate he’ll even have a better week of practice this week, and then we’ll see this weekend how much we use him."
Pokorny's Thoughts: There had better not be any swelling with Richardson, otherwise I'd be thinking Hardesty 2.0.
Learning Curve With Weeden & Receivers
(On if he and Brad Childress gave Brandon Weeden a more complex and comprehensive menu of plays than they normally would give a rookie because Weeden is a 28-year old rookie)- "No, we ran the plays we thought would be successful against Philadelphia based on the quarterback and the players we had out there. It was no more complicated or simple than any process that we go through."
(On if they are still working on developing the chemistry between Weeden and Greg Little)- "I think so. We’re going to focus on one misfire or drop or whatever you want to call it, but I think their chemistry is about where it should be at this point. As we go through the season it will get even better. Greg Little is no different than any of our other receivers."
(On Brandon Weeden’s work ethic the last couple of days)- "I see the same guy that I saw last week. I thought he had a good week of preparation last week. I think as you go through it, we’ve had conversations like we will every week just to try to keep him on track. So far, I like what I’ve seen."
(On if the receivers had a hard time getting off the line of scrimmage)- "I think every team we face, they play some form of bump and run coverage. We were facing two Pro Bowl corners with some guys that were all learning from that experience, no question. Bump and run is a reality in this league. You’ve got to work against it. It’s one of the things that is legislated against us doing in the offseason. There is no bump and run. There’s no contact. You get it in training camp and what not, but you learn a lot by playing against it in the games. I think our guys will get better."
(On how long it takes for a young receiver to grasp the bump and run)- "It takes a little getting used to. I’ve said it before, in college it’s rare you see it. That’s why it’s so important to watch these receivers coming out if they’re in the Senior Bowl or where they’re getting to play against it. There’s not a whole lot of bump and run coverage in college, and you try to project whether a guy can defeat bump and run. Every receiver that comes to this league needs to work on it a great deal, because you just face it here more than you do at the college level."
Pokorny's Thoughts: Shurmur brings up a good point about bump-and-run coverage not being allowed in practice, so seeing it in the game is a reality check for some of our young receivers. Still, Little and Gordon are supposed to be physical, so they'd better get used to it fast.
Scouting A.J. Green and The Impact He Has on Cincinnati's Offense
(On A.J. Green and the Bengals moving him around more this year)- "They move him around. When you’re an outside receiver and you line up in a two-back slot there’s times when you’re inside, but it’s obvious they want to try and get him the football. I see them trying to use him the same way. It was very effective for them last year. Each game they develop a few wrinkles for the team they’re playing so we might see something different. I thought they did a good job the other night. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had effective runs, (Andrew) Hawkins caught the bubble screens and whatnot, got some completions for (Andy) Dalton and then they made an attempt to get the ball to A.J., which they did. Not to mention (Jermaine) Gresham, I think they’ve got an offense that can be very potent."
(On his impressions of A.J. Green last year coming out of Georgia)- "We liked him a lot. We felt he was going to be a top flight receiver in this league there’s no question. When you see a guy have success in his rookie season and you liked him in the draft, it comes as no surprise to me."
(On what distinguishes Green as a receiver)- "He has size, he does a good job against bump-and-run, I think he catches the ball extremely well and I think he’s a very competitive guy. The one thing he does is there are times when the ball gets thrown up to him when it’s less than ideal situations for the offense and he finds a way to go up and get it. I think that’s a very strong attribute for a receiver."
Pokorny's Thoughts: Green made Dalton look better than he was during his rookie season. He could wreck havoc on Cleveland's secondary, especially since I don't think one particular guy can stay glued to him the whole game. Maybe a safety will shadow him for double coverage.
Jimmy Haslam's Decision to Step Down at Pilot
(On his reaction to the news that Jimmy Haslam stepped down as the CEO of Pilot Flying J and if he knew a while ago about that decision)- "No, I didn’t know. I find out some of that information as we go along. As most of you know, I’ve had conversations with Jimmy Haslam along the way here. That’s not something we discussed, but I was made aware of it yesterday and I’m sure he’s going to have a huge role in the Pilot Flying J business. My understanding is that he’s going to be the chairman. How that’s all being structured and where it goes from there, I don’t really know what to tell you because I’m worried about getting ready to play Cincinnati."
The Browns' Defensive Line & Stopping the Run
(On how the young defensive linemen played Sunday)- "I thought they did a good job. I saw them playing hard from first snap to last. They had their mistakes just like the rest of the team, but I think it was a good first game to build on."
(On if Juqua Parker’s intensity and leadership were some of the reasons he was brought in)- "He’s a very intense, very tough, very inspired guy. He loves to play the game. He was wound up and playing hard. I think that’s fair."
(On how he feels the team performed against the run)- "I don’t think we played poorly against the run. Again, Philadelphia is going to get their yards. Their style is more of they’re going to throw it so you defend the pass. Then the running lanes are a little bit wider, that’s the way they play the game. I thought for the most part, you didn’t see a lot of big time break out runs. There was one stretch there in the second half where they ran three in a row on us. That’s where they got a good chunk. They had three runs in a row where they had success otherwise I felt for the most part our guys battled."
(On Cincinnati adding BenJarvus Green-Ellis)- "They lost (Cedric) Benson, so they needed to go get a starting caliber tail back and that’s why they went and got him. I think it’s a good choice. I’ve always admired his style. I think he showed up well the other night."
Pokorny's Thoughts: Parker was banged up a year ago, but in Week 1, he showed that he still has something left in the tank. Green-Ellis is a good physical runner, but I think Cleveland's front seven will prefer facing him over the speedy McCoy.
Offensive Line Struggling in Week 1, and Week 1 Being an "Unknown"
(On offensive linemen struggling to run blocking in Week One)- "The coordination of the running game, it’s a team thing. It starts up front obviously, but then division in the path of the back, the blocks on the perimeter. I just think in general, we need to do a better job of running the football. We were talking about the young defensive linemen a couple moments again and the same could be said for our line."
(On if the first week is always one of the most unknown weeks in the season for coaches)- "That’s very fair to say, I think. When I put my team out there on Sunday, a lot of new faces playing in a situation that you try to create through training camp, but you can’t totally create. That’s playing 60-something odd plays in a very competitive environment against other players who are equally competitive. I do think, even in my conversations with Andy (Reid) before the game, it’s Week One, and you just go out there and play as hard as you can and fight, just like every week you fight to get a victory. That’s what you try to do. I think we all need to get used to seeing it as coaches and players once they’re all out there with the 53 man roster and who your starters are and what not. I think that’s fair."