Browns head coach Pat Shurmur met with the media after Monday's practice. Here's what the coach had to say:
(Opening statement)- "I guess it's still morning so good morning. Today in the Browns' world, it's Thursday. I realize it's Monday, but it's Thursday as we prepare our team for a game on Thursday, which is Sunday. The focus today, although we will be doing a lot of competitive work Browns verses Browns, is short yardage, goal line and third down like we would typically work on a Thursday's practice. That's the focus of the day, again, special teams as well. Again, we'll have a half hour of special teams practice that runs right into the 1:00 team practice. That's the focus of the day and that's the feel I want the players to get as they learn their weekly schedule. We're kind of mocking this up before we get to the regular season."
(On how long it for him to realize that Peyton Hillis fit he wanted for a running back)- "It doesn't take many snaps to see that he's a terrific runner. He's also a physical blocker just by his shear physique. I think he does a good job of catching the ball. It didn't take long. He's one of the guys last year that got a lot of touches a year ago so it was easy to see him perform."
(On if it is still a possibility for Hillis and Montario Hardesty to play in the backfield at the same time)- "Absolutely. I think we've put in packages of plays that we can either run with a fullback and a traditional tailback, two tailbacks or two fullbacks. How we use those guys would be based on who's healthy and available each week. If we have a roster where we're going in and playing a game where Montario and Peyton are both available I think it makes sense to put them in there a small percentage of the time."
(On if he's worried about the wear-and-tear from Hillis' style of running)- "I don't know about the length of his career, but he is a physical style guy. That's what makes him a little bit unique for a runner. A lot of times runners are trying hit a guy on the edge and try and gain yards that way. He doesn't shy away from a straight on blow. I don't know about terms of his durability, but we're anticipating that he's in good shape and that's his style so we'll try to utilize it."
(On if he got a copy of Madden 12)- "I did, yes."
(On if he had seen it yet)- "I haven't seen it yet. I've actually never played the game. My son, I would consider him somewhat of an expert. He (Hillis) gave me a copy of the game, but it wasn't compatible to his system so he hasn't been able to see it yet. I think he's interested to see what I look like in the game too (joking). But, yeah, I have a copy. It was nice of him."
(On the starter's playing time for Thursday)- "Again, we're kind of running down a couple of paths here. We're getting ready for Chicago, we're training our guys to mentally and physically deal with a week's preparation and as I mentioned yesterday in the back of our minds we're preparing for Cincinnati. We're a little bit all over there, but I think the general feeling and what I want our guys to accomplish is maybe some of the guys that won't play as much Thursday night, they're getting a heck of a lot work this week to keep them going. That's why it's a revised Thursday so to speak."
(On the defensive line being ready for the regular season)- "I think some of the young guys need some more reps, which is an important thing. We talked about the offensive line and needing reps and I think you can speak to the defensive line the same way. We'll get them a few more reps, try to determine some of the guys that are going to be the role players and backup players. Whether they're here on our roster or somewhere else. Those types of things."
(On how the top two picks Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard are doing)- "We drafted them and we expected them to be good players, but we do realize they're rookies. I feel like they've held up pretty well. Much has been made about no two-a-days during training camp, but the rigors of training camp are still there with the longer practice in the morning. I think they've held up fairly well. I still think they're in a mode where they need to improve continually and I'll say that probably throughout this year, next off season and into next training camp. There has to be that type of improvement. I think when you look at those guys and defensive linemen, you want to see explosive plays, you want to see sack-fumbles, but then you're also looking for consistent hard play down-to-down. That's what I look for."
(On how the team has ranked poorly defensively against the run in the past)- "We don't want that. We want to be better."
(On if they can rank better against the run)- "In terms of rankings and we'll discuss rankings and things throughout the year. I think what's important is we have to do what we have to do to win the game. Now I think what's important is you never totally just stop the run where the team gets zero yardage. You need to control the run, you need to stop it when you know they're going to run it and I think those are the things that you look for because if a team can run the football on you it's going to be a long afternoon. We realize that."
(On choosing Dick Jauron as his defensive coordinator)- "First, I knew he had the experience and expertise to be the defensive coordinator. That's number one, so put that aside, he's got what it takes to do that. Aside from being a terrific coach, he's even a finer person. I admire him from what he did as a player. I've always admired him as a teacher and a coach. The people that have worked with him or played for him, it's very hard to find someone who will say something negative about Dick. Aside from that, I like the way he goes about his business. He keeps his composure. Defensive guys, mentally sometimes the players they're all over the place, it's just the nature of the position. To have a steady force there in the position of leadership I think is very important. I think he blends well. He's taken a staff of defensive coaches in my opinion with a lot of experience. We have two guys on defense that have been head coaches, at more than one place. We've got Billy Davis who's just come off of being a coordinator. Dwaine Board a great player in this league and then defensive line coach. Jerome Henderson who is a fantastic coach. Chuck Bullough, there's a mixture of guys there. Experience wise and personnel wise and I think Dick can kind of control and direct that in a way that I think we can be successful."
(On Dick Jauron's influence on the young players)- "I think schematically, he can put them in a position where they can be successful. The experience that he brings, he's had a chance to watch defenses from a lot of different seats as the head coach, the coordinator and a position coach in a lot of different places. I think the wealth of experience that he has, it may be a small point here or there, but it can be very helpful."
(On how they will use Keith Gilbertson and Ray Rhodes)- "Well they don't have specific position groups, but they have tasks of the day. They have defined things they do. That's how we use them. I consider them valuable assistants and I am very glad and thankful that they're both here. Again, you are looking at guys that have been head coaches. They are guys that have a great deal of experience. I am glad they are here."
(On if he is comfortable using Josh Cribbs in the regular season opener for returns)- "Absolutely, he is our kickoff and punt returner. It's not uncommon that your guy doesn't get a bunch of reps in the preseason. We were planning to give him a couple last week and then he obviously wasn't able to perform. You can't really worry about that, can't deal with it. He has displayed the ability to do it and if he's on the gameday roster ready to go, he will do it."
(On when guys will return that are still hurt)- "I have to get the final word on that. We've got guys in and out quite a bit. We will see and I am not trying to dodge you."
(On if 45 spots are pretty much safe on the 53-man roster)- "Forty Five? I don't know about that. I think there are still some decisions to be made as we move forward here."
(On Brandon Jackson being down and how it affects their plan for a third down back)- "With Brandon, we will have to see. It's uncertain how quickly he will be back, so we will have to make a decision as to what we are going to do to get another runner ready to go or another runner in here."
(On if he is concerned at the safety position)- "Any of the positions where guys that we are counting on, are not out there competing. I think it's a little bit of a concern, but Mike Adams has done a good job. Ray Ventrone has done a good job. T.J. Ward is increasing his work load behind the scenes here quite a bit and we're anticipating that he will be out there full tilt pretty soon. Usama (Young) will be back. Eric Haag is doing tremendous. He's a fast healer, so I am happy about that."
(On if there are key guys on defense that can help stop the run)- "I think team defense is the way you stop the run. Number one everybody has to obviously defeat their blockers and maintain gap security, because the ball carrier can cut back. But, I think that's what you are looking for when you defend the run, is a team concept. I always think on defense D'Qwell (Jackson) as the leader of that group with Scott Fujita. In the back end you have Sheldon Brown and, even though T.J. hasn't practiced much, T.J. There is leadership now leaking out of a lot of guys back there, which I think is a good thing. When you stop the run it has to be a team concept."
(On if there are a few guys that can play the run well)- "I think for the most part you want your defensive tackles to do it. I think (Ahtyba) Rubin and obviously Taylor do a good job with that. We have linebackers that I think fit the run real well and our safeties are physical guys. Those are where you need to be."
(On if it is a challenge playing a lot of rookies)- "It is. I think they are excited. I have seen steady improvement. We are going to see how good we are here soon when we play a regular season game. Rookies tend to have fresh legs and I think that's something we will build on. I think they have taken to the schemes pretty well. You just have to go out there and do it. If I made a list of all the things I am worried about it would be two pages. So, you don't do that. You go out there, we take them through the process. We take them through the meetings. We go through the process and get them ready to play, and you know what guys, "Go out there and do it." You encourage them and empower them to play and you put them out there and let's roll. I think that's got to be the approach. I don't think that's any different whether you have rookies or you are playing with a team full of veterans."
(On if they have made a decision on Eric Steinbach)- "We haven't yet, but we are getting close to one soon."
(On Usama Young's situation is more difficult because he has not been a full time starter before)- "I don't know if it's more difficult for him. He is one the guys, and I think I have I mentioned it, that I need to learn more about. He kind of came here and was out of action quickly. The key thing for him is to get healthy and get out there. We can make our decisions after that."
(On if Marcus Benard has gotten his weight down)- "He is bigger than he was a year ago, but I think he is getting himself more and more into playing shape, which is good."
(On Jayme Mitchell and Jabaal Sheard and their role in the defense)- "I think both of those guys are kind of long angular type players. I think both can play the run as well as pass rush. I think they are three down players. I think that's where the scheme and everything you do to fit the runs is important. There are gaps out there and we need a guy in each one."
(On what he has learned about Mike Adams)- "I think he is taking advantage of the extra reps that he has gotten. He has played in there much like you would expect from a starter. I've learned that about him. I think he's more in my mind than just a backup-type player right now. To me, until the other guys come back, he is our starter and he may still be."