BEREA — For the second straight year, quarterback Brandon Weeden will open training camp as the starter and the guy getting the repetitions with the first-team offense.
He said that’s where the similarities end.
“I feel like a completely different player,” he said Monday. “It’s knowing what to expect … I didn’t know anyone in the locker room, I didn’t know the routine. There are just so many unknowns.
“Now I’ve been in it for a year and I know how the weekly routine goes and I’ve got myself into a routine. I’m going to go out there with confidence. I’m not going to be timid.”
Training camp opens Thursday, but rookies, injured players and assorted veterans reported early.
Coach Rob Chudzinski met with a group of writers Monday and said Weeden will continue to work with the starters, just as he did throughout the offseason program. Jason Campbell is with the second team and Brian Hoyer the third team.
“Obviously training camp is the first time where we’ll get a chance to see those guys basically against full-speed competition,” Chudzinski said. “That will be a big part of the process of them growing.”
Chudzinski said he saw growth from Weeden through the offseason program, in his mechanics and as a leader.
“He’s done some work on his footwork and that’s improved, just over the course of the summer,” Chudzinski said. “He’s quickened his footwork, it’s more consistent and he’s able to get the ball out quicker because of it.”
Weeden, 29, went 5-10 as a rookie starter in 2012, completing 57.4 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 72.6 rating.
He worked with a variety of receivers in Oklahoma during the summer, including Cleveland’s Greg Little, who joined him for three days.
“I feel like I’m taking steps, but I still need to continue to work on it day in and day out and keep continuing to get better, keep continuing to prove that I’m a good leader on this team and a leader for this offense,” Weeden said. “But I’m making steps in the right direction.”
Running back Trent Richardson reported with the rookies and appears recovered after missing minicamp in June with a lower-leg injury.
“He’s full go,” Chudzinski said. “He’s been practicing these last few days and looks good.”
Richardson, who had been training in Florida, is hoping to stay healthy in his second season. He started 15 games last year — he missed the finale with an ankle injury — but had arthroscopic knee surgery that cost him the preseason, then played much of the year with broken ribs.
He rushed for 950 yards, a 3.6 average and 11 touchdowns. He added 51 catches for 367 yards and a touchdown.
“Trent looks good,” Weeden said. “He looks quick. He’s moving around great. He’s in good shape.”
Veteran receiver David Nelson and rookie offensive lineman Chris Faulk will open camp on the active physically unable to perform list, Chudzinski said. They are recovering from knee surgery, will work with trainers and are eligible to come off the list at any time.
Nelson and Faulk worked with trainers in the field house after practice Monday.
“We’ll evaluate them on a daily basis,” Chudzinski said.
Safety Jamoris Slaughter, a sixth-round pick, has been cleared and is practicing. He missed offseason workouts after suffering a torn Achilles tendon during his senior year at Notre Dame.
A sign of relief
Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo never thought contract negotiations would cause him to miss any time on the field.
Then he came face to face with the business side of the NFL.
“It was an eye-opener,” he said. “When you’re growing up and you’re watching football, you think they just come ready to play, they just play football.
“But there’s also a different side of that. It’s a business. And the club, they want to do what’s best for them and your agent’s looking out for you. But at the end of the day you’ve just got to be ready to play football.”
Mingo signed early Sunday morning. He was scheduled to report Friday and missed only one day of practice. The full-squad session doesn’t start until Thursday.
“A weight’s been lifted,” he said. “I know I need to be here in camp, I need to get ready for the season. Just being here on time is going to help me do that.”
Mingo is 6-foot-4 and weighed 237 pounds during minicamp. He continues to downplay the latter number and wouldn’t disclose it Monday.
“I’m pleased with where I’m at,” he said. “The coaches aren’t concerned, I’m bigger than what I was when I got here and I’m not trying to stop right there, just keep on going. And our strength coaches have been doing a great job, so I’m getting stronger, getting bigger, but I’m keeping my quickness, and I think that’s the best way to go about that.”
Mingo asked the veterans what to expect in camp.
“They just said it’s going to be the toughest days of your life,” he said. “I’ve seen the schedule, it’s sunup to sundown and it’s going to be a lot. But just preparing your body and having your body being in the best shape that it can be in I think is one of the key things.”
Chudzinski moved training camp practice from its traditional spot in the morning to 4 p.m. He feels it’s important, especially in his first year, to group the installation of the offensive and defensive schemes into daily blocks.
“With the systems being still installed that guys aren’t necessarily 100 percent familiar with, you basically lay out the days for installs,” he said. “Everything is happening in one particular day as guys are getting ready for that day.”
The 14-hour day begins with weightlifting in the 7 o’clock hour, followed by meetings, a walkthrough, more meetings, practice and another meeting to make corrections from practice.
Chudzinski also likes the idea of practice not being in the hottest part of the day, but still warm enough to work on conditioning.
“The optimal time from a physical standpoint is that late-afternoon, early evening time and you are out of the midday heat, hopefully,” he said. “I’ve been out here a few times at 4 o’clock the last few weeks. It’s been pretty hot. We’re going to get plenty of conditioning work in and climatizing work in, so I’m not concerned about that.”
Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.