“In the heat of the game, the last thing I’m thinking about is letting the press box know,” he said. “I don’t think there was anything to try to keep it from somebody.”
With talks between his agent, Kennard McGuire, and the Browns stalled on a contract extension, Hillis, who rushed for 14 yards on six carries Sunday, said last week he was worried about his future with Cleveland and beginning to wonder if he’ll get a long-term deal.
“He’s not on the trading block,” Shurmur said.
Maybe so, but his reduced role in Cleveland’s offense _ at least through five games _ has fueled theories the Browns no longer value Hillis, who rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. However, Shurmur said last week that Hillis would get the “bulk” of the carries against Oakland and that appeared to be the gameplan until he got hurt.
“We really wanted to feed Peyton early and often,” lamented Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas. “When he came down with that injury early, you’ve kind of got to scramble a little bit, decide what you want to do going forward. Also a little bit of that was the way Oakland was playing us, they broke tendency.
“They were trying to pressure us with six-, seven- and eight-man blitzes to stop the run, but also to bring one more blitzer than we had a blocker. So it was a little bit tough when Peyton went down, so I’m hoping that he can get healthy and we can feed him a bunch next week.”
Shurmur has already had to deal with a season’s worth of issues in his first five games as Cleveland’s coach.
Besides the latest Hillis matter, wide receiver Josh Cribbs complained after Sunday’s game about his role in the offense, labeling it “very insignificant.” Also, McCoy had another subpar performance, completing just 21 of 35 passes _ most of them short attempts. And, Shurmur took the blame for the Browns “selling out” and trying to block a field goal in the third quarter only to be burned by a fake as the Raiders threw a 35-yard score.
Browns fans have focused some of their angst on Shurmur, who is taking it all in stride.
“I’ve lived this before,” he said. “First for 10 years in Philadelphia and two years in St. Louis, and we were building. I get it. I understand it. It’s about winning football games. So our focus is getting this team ready to play Seattle and getting a win.
“That’s the focus.”