September 30, 2014

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Browns notes: Brandon Weeden staying put at QB

BEREA — The shouts for Colt McCoy to replace rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden started Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium during the season opener. They continued Monday on Twitter and talk radio, and ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck raised the volume.

“I think the Cleveland Browns win that football game if Colt McCoy’s the starting quarterback,” he said.

Coach Pat Shurmur was asked what he would say to the fans barking for McCoy.

“Clamoring for Colt? Brandon Weeden is our starter and he’s going to get better, that’s what I’m going to tell them,” he said. “I’m looking right into that little camera thing.”

The Browns drafted Weeden No. 22 overall, named him the starter early in training camp and are committed to him. That’s not going to change after one game. Even if it was historically bad.

“He’s got to look at this game and make the corrections,” Shurmur said. “What happened yesterday is correctable. I think that’s the great news.”

Weeden was 12-for-35 for 118 yards and four interceptions in the 17-16 loss to the Eagles. Among starting quarterbacks who attempted at least 15 passes in a season opener, Weeden’s 5.1 rating is the sixth lowest in the NFL since the merger in 1970. Among quarterbacks making their first start, the 5.1 was seventh lowest since 1970.

The rating nearly matched his baseball minor league career ERA of 5.02. He also fumbled twice, with the Browns recovering. Including five preseason quarters, he has yet to throw a touchdown in the NFL.

“He won’t lose his confidence,” Shurmur said. “I think it’s important we go back, just like we do each week, work on the fundamentals of playing the position and get ready to play the next team. That’s it. That’s it.”

Getting better

Shurmur said rookie running back Trent Richardson came through his first NFL game healthy. He had arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 9, missed the preseason and returned to practice last Monday.

Richardson carried 19 times for 39 yards, a 2.1 average. He played 43 of the 62 offensive snaps.

“He looked like a guy just back to me, but he was competing out there,” Shurmur said. “He probably played 10 or 12 plays more than I wanted him to. But he’s doing great today and he pulled out of it OK.”

Shurmur expects an improved Richardson on Sunday in Cincinnati.

“I think you’ll see him be a little bit fresher, a little bit sharper in everything he does,” Shurmur said.

The offensive line played a role in the slow start as it didn’t do a good job of opening holes.

“They gave us a few different looks from what we had seen on tape,” tight end Alex Smith said. “For whatever reason we just had a miscount of the box and guys were just free. It was hard to get the play started when guys were coming through the line unblocked.

“We have to try and do a little better job of studying how they might attack us and the looks they’re going to give us.”

Fujita update

Veteran linebacker Scott Fujita wasn’t activated for the game, but said Sunday his knee was fine (he missed the last three preseason games) and he was healthy enough to play. A three-game suspension for his alleged role in the Saints’ bounty scandal was overturned Friday and he was reinstated by the NFL.

“Scott hadn’t practiced, and I think that was part of it,” Shurmur said. “The game plan was set up where we knew we were going to be in a lot of two-linebacker sets because of as much three wideouts as Philadelphia played. So we felt like we just wanted to go with the guys that had practiced and gotten ready to play.”

The ruling by a three-judge panel didn’t happen until after practice Friday afternoon.

“I half-jokingly said if it came five or six hours sooner, then there’s a chance I’m playing today,” Fujita, 33, said.

The panel returned the case to commission Roger Goodell, who has the authority to reissue the discipline. ESPN reported Monday night his decision could come in the coming weeks, not days, so Fujita will be eligible to play.

Going for one

Shurmur defended his decision to kick the extra point instead of trying a 2-point conversion with the Browns leading by five with 13:59 left. Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin went for two Sunday night in almost an identical situation.

“It was kind of one of those field-goal games,” Shurmur said. “Two field goals beat you if you don’t make the 2-point play.

“I always think of it as if there’s only a possession or two. You want to do it at the very last moment if you can. I went back and thought about that again. I would do it the same way.”

Giving praise

The defense and special teams were recognized by Shurmur in his opening monologue.

The defense allowed 456 yards but forced five turnovers.

“From a defensive standpoint, it was a great effort,” he said. “I talked all offseason about getting turnovers, which we did, and yards aside, we eliminated scoring on a very explosive offense. To hold that offense to 17 points in over 90 plays is a pretty good job.”

In the kicking game, Joshua Cribbs averaged 30.3 yards on three kickoff returns and 13.0 on six punt returns. The Eagles were held to 21.3 on kickoffs and 6.0 on punts.

“Very solid effort,” Shurmur said. “I thought they contributed significantly to what could have been a victory. I thought some of the young linebackers on the team, the young secondary players show up on special teams and they did good stuff.

“Cribbs obviously did some things and Alex Smith played a big role in his effort to block.”

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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