Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur talked to the media before Thursday morning's practice. The team was scheduled to be in full pads today, as Shurmur talked about Trent Richardson's involvement in practice, whether the team has fixed their issues when teams try to block punts, being a bit thin on the offensive line right now, and more. The news conference transcript is organized by topic after the jump.
Opening Statement & The Latest on Haden/Fujita
(Opening statement)- "I thought yesterday’s practice was good. We got a change to get a lot of work done. The heat was there, which was important. This is day two, of course as you know on this day we work on short yardage, goal-line, third downs and then review the base so that’s where we’re at. I can feel the excitement building amongst our players and we’ve got a solid work day today and we’ll come back tomorrow and Saturday and finish the preparation."
(On if Joe Haden is practicing today)- "Yeah, Joe’s practicing."
(On if they got word that Scott Fujita could play Sunday is his fitness level high enough for him to play)- "This is all hypothetical and each player and his ability to play will be considered on an individual basis. I think we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it."
(On if they are in full pads today)- "Yeah, we’re going to be in pads. Shoulder pads and helmets."
Shurmur's Thoughts on Art Modell
(On the passing of Art Modell and the passion of the fan base and how they might have a hard time reconciling him moving the team)- "I never met Art Modell and I’m sure it’s a very sad day for his family and friends. I understand the passion involved in all situations. All I can think about is I’m sure it’s a sad day for his family and friends and beyond that I really don’t have any other comment."
Contact & Reps for RB Trent Richardson in Practice
(On how much contact Trent Richardson will have)- "He’ll be involved in the team run drills. Obviously we don’t tackle, everybody stays up so he’ll be involved in a little bit of thumping."
(On if it is important for Richardson to go through some contact)- "I think so. I think it’s important for all of our guys. It’s 14 and counting now, those are days until the end of the season that we can put our guys in shoulder pads and helmets. Regardless of what you wear on your bottoms and I think that’s insignificant whether you wear shorts, girdles or you wear pants it doesn’t matter. Really, it comes down to there’s 14 days where you can wear a helmet with shoulder pads. Say it for what it is."
(On Trent Richardson saying the only thing that would keep him out of Sunday would be a coach’s decision)- "We’re going to watch him practice today with his shoulder pads on. In my mind, there haven’t been any setbacks in his recovery. We’ll make that decision when it happens."
(On if the biggest hurdle Richardson had to overcome was how he responded after the off day)- "I don’t know about biggest, but that was one of them. I think you bring a guy’s work load up and each time you give them a little bit more, once they get a good night sleep and they come in, you check them. I think we’ll do that with him all the way through until he’s in the right condition and ready to play 65 plays."
(On how difficult it when players have to do things in games that they never got a chance to do in practice like tackling or the length of a game)- "I think every coach does the same thing. You get it as close as you can. That’s why you do situational work. We do 8-10 plays at a time, so that the guys have to go what might be a series. You do all those things, and then if you’re going to block low on somebody or tackle somebody, you’ve got to get that in the preseason games. You just don’t have as many guys as you might have in other levels of football, say high school or college, so the ones you’ve got, you’ve got to get them as good as they can be, but then you’ve also got to consider their durability and their safety as you practice. I think that’s part of it. Without saying it, we coaches want to push them, and we push the heck out of them, and they demand it of themselves, but then you’ve got to keep watching to see that they’re there when it’s gameday."
Being Thin on the Offensive Line
(On if there is a number of offensive linemen they have to take to Sunday with John Greco and Oniel Cousins not practicing yesterday)- "Yeah, you usually have your front five and then a couple more as backups. Again, there’s a couple days left before we’ve got to set the roster and some guys are gameday decisions."
Evaluating Josh Gordon's Progress Again
(On what he has seen from Josh Gordon in the last three weeks and if he satisfied with where he is right now)- "I think he’s as far along as you can be as a rookie. I think he’s made tremendous strides from the first day of training camp until now so yeah I’m happy with the progress so far. We got a chance to see him make some plays in preseason games and now it’s important for him to go out and do that in a regular season game so each one of these things I’m talking about is a little hurdle and he’s done a good job of getting himself to this point."
(On if it is nice for Josh Gordon to have a resource like Greg Little who went through a similar situation last year)- "He’s kind of following the same path that Greg did. Greg came in and in my opinion he had to run himself into shape much like Josh Gordon did. Then he went out and played a long season for a rookie and played a lot of games and fortunately found a way to stay healthy. I’m sure there are things they’re talking about behind the scenes. I’ve seen a time or two where they’ve interacted where I’m sure that’s helping Josh."
Improving Special Teams Coverage & Fixing Punt Block Issues
(On if he thinks his special teams coverage will be better this year)- "I anticipate every phase of our game will be better and I expect that they’re going to contribute to victories and I think that’s important just like on offense and defense. Every phase of our operation needs to be better and I’m anticipating that we will be."
(On what makes him think the coverage units will be better)- "I’ve seen them play better, I’ve seen them practice better, I’ve watched every minute of everything they’ve done in this camp. I feel good about the people we’re putting out there, I feel good about our schemes and we just got to go do it."
(On if they’ve made the necessary adjustments in punt-blocking unit)- "Necessary adjustments? Yeah. We’ve talked about the two specific issues, right? Rod Windsor who got bull rushed twice, right? That’s fixed. Then, Kaluka (Maiava) who’s been here and done it for a very long time, did something that in my opinion he’ll never do again. In those two situations, it’s been addressed."
Relationship With Randy Lerner & Jimmy Haslam
(On what his relationship with Randy Lerner has been like and what is his relationship with Jimmy Haslam is like)- "First my relationship with Randy, I think it’s been very positive and professional. I’ve found him to be very supportive in our efforts. I’ve found him to be very insightful in his comments. I’ve generally enjoyed the time we’ve spent together. As far as Jimmy Haslam, I would say we haven’t spent as much time together just because of the nature of where this thing is at. But it’s same thing, I sense a man that is very passionate. I sense a man that is looking forward to helping build us into a winner. I think that’s important. I feel his strength from top down and I mentioned that yesterday. Somebody was asking me why Philadelphia has had so much success for so long and I think it starts at the top so that’s what I see."
(On if he spent enough time with Randy Lerner to feel like they interacted plenty)- "Yeah, I felt like he was around quite a bit. There are days when I’m working with the coaches and the players where I don’t see other people in the building and I know they’re there. Then there are other days where there’s interaction. Regardless of our role, we all have jobs to do and we get caught doing our jobs and then you interact. In my opinion, I saw him around quite a bit and I felt like that relationship as I mentioned was very professional."
Loose Ends - Scouting, Tackling Better, Backup RB's, and L.J. Fort
(On if it is harder to project a player from the FCS level more than the FBS level)- "I think our scouting department does a good job of sorting through level of competition and seeing skill, ability and production. That’s why you see guys coming from small schools, small leagues and obscure places becoming great players because you’ve got to find what translates into this league. You always consider the level of competition, but then again you’ve got to look at the individual player, what he brings to the table in terms of character, his skill and ability and of course his durability, whether he’s been healthy or not."
(On if tackling will improve as the season goes on)- "I don’t know that. I think guys that are basically good tacklers, tackle well throughout the year. It’s like any other skill in football, you need to work on it and practice it. As time goes on, I’m sure it probably gets a little better."
(On why Montario Hardesty is ahead of Brandon Jackson after Jackson outperformed him during the preseason)- "You’re looking at the depth chart, right? You do know this though, that the players that play behind the starter play in the game. How we choose to use those backs if they’re both up, I wouldn’t read into that too much."
(On what they saw in L.J. Fort)- "We felt like he was a guy that number one could make the team initially as a special teams player and then you get him in the scrimmage snaps on defense, we felt like he did a nice job. We actually worked him outside and inside. Much like a backup offensive lineman, if you’re the fourth, fifth or sixth linebacker, you have to be able to back up inside and out. He’s handled that pretty well mentally and he just found a way to make plays and those are all the things we saw."
Getting the Rookies Ready for Their First NFL Game
(On if he needs to talk to the rookies before the opener about the NFL experience)- "I think we’ve done that all along. You remind them as you go through the preseason games, ‘This is what it feels like.’ The crowds are bigger, and obviously the anticipation to play the game. I think what you saw, last night for instance, I caught the end of the game, you saw a lot of starting players, that at the end of the game, that’s their first time when they took 60-something odd snaps. Just watching the game, I saw some guys that looked pretty winded. Those are two very fine teams. There are things that I talk about behind the scenes. I don’t need a guest speaker to bring that up by the way. Those are the things you talk about as you get ready. Making sure they get extra conditioning, making sure they do all the things they need because nowhere in this thing have we been able to simulate the ones playing the whole game. No team has. All 32 teams are in the same boat that way. You’re not out there, but you see our guys getting extra conditioning and at this point it’s important that they’re fit, but they’re not sluggish."
(On if he can sense when a guy is overwhelmed or wide eyed)- "I don’t worry about that. These guys are pros. I’m confident in anybody we put out there. I really don’t care if they’re just here or they’ve been here a long time. I’m looking forward to seeing them all play."