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Shurmur admires players' toughness

Posted Oct 4, 2012

On Thursday afternoon, Browns coach Pat Shurmur expressed his admiration for players who exude toughness and leadership on the field.

There are many qualities that coaches in the National Football League look for when determining whether to add a prospective player to the roster.

Size, speed, strength, and the ability to learn are all important characteristics.

But for Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur, toughness is at the top of his list.

“The most admired attribute for a person that plays our game is toughness and we, as coaches, know that,” Shurmur said Thursday. “Most of us that coach the game played the game and we understand what it is to be tough and we admire that in all our players and when we bring guys here, we’re looking for guys that are tough. All the other attributes, we talk about frequently, but that’s one of the underlying traits that all players need to have.”

On Thursday, Shurmur was asked about two-time Pro Bowl kick returner Joshua Cribbs, who returned to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday after being knocked out of the team’s 23-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday night.

“I have a huge admiration for his toughness,” Shurmur said. “Josh is a tough man and Josh is a football player. He’s been banged around quite a bit over his career and he loves the game and it’s obvious by the way he just keeps getting back up and getting back out there. I admire that and I also know the feelings that families have for the people they love.”

In addition to toughness, Shurmur also embraces a leadership quality in his players.

The team selected three permanent captains at the beginning of the year and it is up to those men -- middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, kicker Phil Dawson and five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas -- to select a fourth captain on a game-by-game basis. This week, the leaders selected defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin to be the fourth man with a captain’s designator patch on his jersey.

“I think he’s exerted himself as a leader,” Shurmur said of Rubin. “It’s important, though, that everybody be who they are and within his personality, I’ve seen him extend himself. He’s obviously a guy that leads by example because he’s always where he’s supposed to be on time, busts his tail and that’s one way to lead.

“When you have young players establish themselves within a group, you have to look around and say, ‘Okay, there’s some older players that are helping them when the coaches aren’t watching.’ I would attribute some of the success that Winn and Hughes have had to a veteran presence in there and Rube’s obviously extended himself.”

‘DIGGING DEEPER’ IN PREPARATION

Having played last Thursday night, the Browns had the ability to go over their corrections from the Baltimore game much earlier than normal and begin the evaluation process of Sunday’s opponent, the New York Giants.

As the team prepares to make its first trip to MetLife Stadium, Shurmur felt good about the way it is practicing.

“We’re digging deeper on the preparation for the Giants,” Shurmur said. “I think we had a good day of practice yesterday. Some of the younger guys had, in my opinion, some of their best practices of the year. We need to build on that. We’re playing an outstanding football team on the road and I know our guys are excited to go out there, compete and get a victory.”

INSIDE-OUT THREAT

In the past, third-year wide receiver Victor Cruz has been a versatile threat for the Giants and quarterback Eli Manning and the 2012 season has been no different. Able to play on the outside of the formation or in the slot, Cruz has amassed 32 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

His long reception of 80 yards went for a touchdown.

“I think he’s extremely quick and fast,” Shurmur said. “There’s a lot of times when players are involved in tight coverage and they make plays. He’s kind of established himself as a playmaker for them. I think he’s caught 32 balls already and he’s kind of a go-to guy for them. They can play himself outside; they play him in the slot. They move him around and they try to get him the football. You’ve got a guy that has talent and confidence and obviously, Eli believes in him because he throws to him quite a bit.”

RESPECT FOR THE OPPONENT

The Giants come into Sunday’s game at 2-2 after a 19-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. New York led the game, but gave up a 26-yard field goal to Alex Henery with 1:49 remaining in regulation.

Despite their best efforts, the Giants came up short when Lawrence Tynes missed a 54-yard field goal in the game’s waning seconds.

While the Giants sit in a second-place tie with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, one game behind the Eagles in the NFC East, they have the respect of the Browns.

“They’re an outstanding football team,” Shurmur said. “I don’t know if you’d consider that balanced. There was a time when they did not throw the ball as much as they do now, but as I mentioned yesterday, that offense really runs through Eli and I think they’ve found a way to be effective running the ball as well.

“They’re a top-tier, admirable organization. I know that first-hand. They’ve found a way to win two Super Bowls here in a few years with the current regime. I sure admire that.”

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