Shurmur says Browns still preparing for RG3

December 12, 2012

BEREA — Pat Shurmur downplayed the fact that Robert Griffin III might not play this week and said the Browns will prepare the same way regardless of who the quarterback is.

There has been uncertainty whether Griffin III will play or not this week after suffering a grade one strained lateral cruciate ligament (LCL).

Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon said on ESPN that Kirk Cousins would likely start. However, Griffin’s father said in an interview that his son expected to play this week.

“I’m sure we’re going to hear a lot of different things this week,” Shurmur said. “We have to prepare for the Redskins. We can’t get caught up in preparing for just one player.”

Griffin was participating in practice during the portion that was open to the media, but it was unclear if he took part in team drills. 

Shurmur was asked if he would use Josh Cribbs to simulate Griffin III in practice to try and duplicate Griffin III’s speed.

“I’m not sure we have anyone to simulate his speed,” Shurmur said. 

He said no to the question on Cribbs, but did say that Colt McCoy would run the scout offense. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin could be a possibility. 

It is no secret the Browns tried to obtain the rights to draft Griffin III and that element brings more excitement to the game. Shurmur said the Redskins have done a good job of tailoring the offense to use Griffin III’s skills.

“When you bring talent into the league, you try to use the talent that you have and that’s why you’re seeing some of the things you’re seeing,” he said. 

Shurmur was asked if he would’ve changed his offense if Griffin III had come to the Browns. 

“I promise you we would have had more structured runs (for the quarterback).”

Shurmur was asked if there is any concern as a coach when you have a quarterback who runs a lot. 

“(The Redskins coaches) are doing all the right things,” he said. 

Shurmur said when you have great athletes who try to make plays, you can’t talk them out of running. Shurmur was the quarterback coach with the Eagles when Donovan McNabb came to the NFL and he was an elusive scrambler early in his career.

“You can’t have those conversations with those guys,” Shurmur said. “We trained Donovan as a drop back passer, but he was a great runner.”

Griffin III is the second-leading rusher for the Redskins with 748 yards on 112 carries (6.7 avg.) with six touchdowns. He’s not doing too bad as a passer either, as he’s 233-of-351 for 2,906 yards with 18 touchdowns and only four interceptions. His rating is 104.2 for the season.

Shurmur was asked how to slow down Griffin III as a runner.

“You’d like to stop him before he gets going,” Shurmur said. “That’s a joke.”

Griffin III’s backup, Kirk Cousins, is also a rookie and he replaced Griffin III last week and led the Redskins on a touchdown drive (and two-point conversion) to send the game into overtime. The Redskins eventually won.

“(Cousins) was able to come in and execute and that’s a credit to him,” Shurmur said. “I assume that he’s getting little to no reps with the offense during the week and that’s a credit to him.”

Cousins is just 7-of-11 for 137 yards on the season with two touchdowns and two interceptions and a rating of 107.

Rookie WR Travis Benjamin was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in the last week’s win over the Chiefs. Benjamin returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown to spark the Browns win.

“That’s a tremendous effort by him to be part of a winning effort,” Shurmur said.  

Benjamin’s touchdown return was the longest punt return in Browns history, breaking a record set by Eric Metcalf, who had a 92-yard return for a score in 1994. Benjamin was the first Browns’ rookie to return a punt for a touchdown since Ben Davis did so in 1967.

In addition to the punt return, Benjamin had a 15-yard run on a double reverse that was followed by a touchdown run by Trent Richardson. 

Benjamin is the first Browns special teams player to win the award since Josh Cribbs did so in the second week of the 2011 season. He is the first rookie to win the award for the Browns since Andre Davis dis so in the eighth week of the 2002 season.

WR/KR Josh Cribbs was named as the fourth captain for this week. Shurmur was asked if both Cribbs and Benjamin can be effective together on kickoffs and punt returns.

“They both can be very effective,” Shurmur said. “Josh isn’t the fastest guy in the world and he never has been, but he’s found ways to return a lot of kicks.”

On the season, Cribbs has 33 punt returns for 424 yards (12.8 avg.) with a long of 60 yards. He has no touchdowns this season. 

Benjamin has three returns for 149 yards (49.7 avg.) with a long of 93 yards for a touchdown.

Cribbs has returned 32 kickoffs for 885 yards (27.7 avg.) with a long of 74 yards. Benjamin has returned two kickoffs for 47 yards (23.5 avg.) with a long of 24 yards.

Shurmur says it’s a good thing.

“We’ve used both guys back there and it’s a good problem to have.” 

The Browns had no players held out of last week’s game due to injury. The only two players that were mentioned as injured during the Chiefs game were DL Phil Taylor (ankle) and LB James-Michael Johnson (thigh bruise). Both players returned to the game and no update was given by Shurmur.

Rookie DL Billy Winn and John Hughes have been relegated to reserve roles since the return of DL Phil Taylor and DL Ahtyba Rubin. However, Shurmur said they are still producing well and are part of the rotation.

“Their role has changed with Rubin and Taylor back, but they’re still showing up,” Shurmur said. “They’re getting fewer snaps, but they are more explosive snaps.”

Hughes picked up a sack against the Chiefs.

The Browns signed TE/FB Brad Smelley to the active roster and released DL Ronnie Cameron. Shurmur was asked the reason for the move.

“We’ve liked what we’ve seen from (Smelley) throughout training camp and on the practice squad,” Shurmur said. “We wanted to make him active and bring him up.”

Smelley was a seventh-round draft choice from Alabama.

The Browns said they tried to sign unrestricted free agent WR Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan during free agency. However, both players signed with the Redskins. 

“Those were two big-time targets in free agency,” Shurmur said. “Pierre is a very big, fast player and Josh is a tough, gritty guy. They picked up two fine players.”

Garcon had four receptions for 109 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown in the season opener before injuring his foot. He was inactive for six of the next eight games. Since returning on Nov. 18 he has caught 20 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns. On the season, he has 28 receptions for a 15.6 average per catch.

Morgan has 42 catches for 429 yards (10.2 avg.) and a touchdown.