The Cleveland Browns began their preparations for the 2012 season with the start of offseason workouts on Monday morning at the team’s Berea training facility.
Following the first day of work, coach Pat Shurmur spoke with members of the Cleveland media through a conference call to talk about his goals for the offseason, his first with the team. Last season, Shurmur and the Browns players missed all offseason workouts due to a work stoppage.
“It’s obviously exciting for me to have the players back in the building,” Shurmur said. “We’ve got an outstanding turnout for the first day. They’re getting their weight-training in. We’re in Phase One of a nine or 10-week program. I’m going to go straight through with nine and then, give them their week off at the end.”
According to Shurmur, having the players back in Berea will give him “a little clarity” about “how much work needs to get done on the field” when the team goes through its organized team activities and minicamps in the next three months.
“I understand and realize how important these can be so that you can get your assistants in place,” Shurmur said. “The players have a chance to work together and start to develop a winning chemistry. When you get through this body of work, they get a couple weeks off and then, you repeat the football part of it in training camp as you prepare for the season.”
The first couple weeks of the program consist of weight-training with the team’s strength and conditioning coaches, Kent Johnston and Rick Lyle. However, coaches are not permitted to go through drills with players on the field.
“As we get into Phase Two and Three, we’ll get into the OTAs and mandatory minicamp,” Shurmur said. “For coaches to see players back, I think it’s an exciting thing. From what I could tell with talking to the players, there’s excitement to be back. For a lot of our veteran guys, their body clock said that the offseason program started a month ago. Now, they get a chance to train with their teammates.”
The different phases of the offseason are a product of the collective bargaining agreement that was ratified prior to training camp in 2011. The offseason schedule is a month shorter than it was in previous years. There are also restrictions as to when on-field instruction can start. In Phase One, coaches are only allowed to go through classroom sessions with the players.
“I think there is enough time here in a nine or 10-week period to get what you need done to get ready for training camp,” Shurmur said. “I’m good with it and you want the players to be here and excited about doing the work. You want to get a lot done and then, put it to rest as you get ready for training camp. From what I saw, the players are looking forward to going over and revisiting the things we did well last year and making improvements on the things we didn’t do well. For me, I have a much better view of what our team is and the areas we need to improve in to get ourselves in a position to play in the playoffs and compete to play in the big game and that’s what we’re looking to do.”
The workouts the Browns started on Monday morning are all voluntary, but Shurmur was happy with the number of players he had in the first meeting of the offseason.
“With the fact that the turnout’s so good, it tells me they’re excited to get back to work,” Shurmur said. “No. 1, that’s an important thing. The fact that they’re here says a lot about the direction this team wants to go.”
DELIVERING A MESSAGE
During that first meeting, Shurmur wanted to set a tone for his staff and the players as they began preparing for 2012.
“My message to the team was ‘Everybody needs to improve, whether you’re
MISSING A LINEBACKER
When asked about the bounty scandal, Shurmur said it was “a league issue.”
“I would say this, I think player safety is important and I understand the integrity of the game,” Shurmur said. “There are a couple of issues, I think, that have to guide us and I’ll just leave it at that. There has been education and really, it was been initiated by us. As coaches, we want to make sure we do things the right way.”