October 31, 2014

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Browns: Weeden still in battle for starting job

BEREA — Brandon Weeden has taken every snap with the first team beginning in the spring and continuing through training camp.

He went 10-for-13 for 112 yards, a touchdown and a 127.7 rating in the preseason opener, leading two drives for 10 points.

Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden will not be handed the starting job yet. Coach Rob Chudzinski said he hasn’t made a decision on the starter. (AP PHOTO)

Coach Rob Chudzinski wants to see more.

“There’s a point where I will name a starting quarterback (for the regular season),” he said Tuesday following the final camp practice open to the public.

He’s not ready to do that.

“Not yet,” he said.

Chudzinski wasn’t done giving fodder to those who love a good quarterback debate.

“I think it’s still close,” he said of the competition between Weeden and Jason Campbell. “We are finding out every game. These games are important opportunities for guys to show what they can do.”

Weeden, the No. 22 pick three months earlier, was handed the starting job by then-coach Pat Shurmur last season before the preseason had begun. He started the first 15 games before injuring his right shoulder, going 5-10 and completing 57.4 percent for 3,385 yards, 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 72.6 rating.

The new regime of CEO Joe Banner, general manger Michael Lombardi and Chudzinski isn’t convinced Weeden’s the long-term solution. And it’s made a point of applying pressure to see how Weeden responds.

Following the solid preseason debut vs. the Rams, Chudzinski made sure Weeden hadn’t gotten too comfortable.

“I can’t really say he’s challenging me, but I can’t worry about it,” Weeden said. “I’ve got a lot of other things to worry about, I’m about to go play a game in two days. That’s my main focus is playing against Detroit and play well.

“(Chudzinski) makes all the decisions. All I can really control is what I do out here and get all the work put in, and if I continue to impress and do all those things, then everything will take care of itself.”

The lack of any time with the starting unit for Campbell calls the legitimacy of the competition into question. But Chudzinski said that isn’t a huge factor and he has gotten a good read on what Campbell can do.

“I think you can tell. I think the things he has demonstrated with that group are what I would expect,” Chudzinski said. “I think that he has shown well.

“There are three preseason games left out of the four. So there is still a lot of work to be done. Every day is an evaluation. They each have done well and showed good things along the way.”

Campbell, 31, has made 71 starts in his eight-year career and wants to become a starter again after spending last season as a backup in Chicago. He went 6-for-7 for 37 yards and an 88.7 rating vs. the Rams and isn’t dwelling on his role.

“I’m just practicing my butt off trying to get better,” he said. “I’m just happy to have the opportunity to get out here and grow and get better and just keep playing. I think the one thing Coach wants to do is just keep pushing all of us and not to get complacent and not to get comfortable.

“When you have a competitive environment, I think it makes everyone better because that way you’re not sitting down and not just becoming settled or becoming complacent.”

Weeden isn’t running from the fight.

“Competition is good,” he said. “I’ve told you guys that all along. I think it makes everybody better regardless of position. I think it challenges guys to come focused each and every day to work and keep continuing to play better.”

The coaches have been pleased with Campbell, who was signed as a free agent and brings knowledge of the system being installed by coordinator Norv Turner.

“The familiarity has been good,” Chudzinski said. “In terms of leadership, you see him doing the extra things with helping receivers out, helping younger guys out and helping getting guys lined up. A lot of little things that veteran quarterbacks, a guy who is really unselfish and a team player, demonstrates.”

While Chudzinski purposely brought uncertainly into the situation, Weeden was asked if he has any doubt he’ll be the starter for the Sept. 8 opener against the Dolphins.

“I’m confident that I’m going to be, but I’ve got to prove it to the other guys, the guys upstairs that I am the guy,” he said. “The only way I can do that is play well and keep continuing to get better.

“It’s a competitive sport. It’s a competitive position. And it being my second year, things didn’t go as well as obviously I wanted them to last year. That means I have to show these guys that I can play and show these guys that I can be the man. Just one more obstacle I’ve got to overcome, but I’ve just got to worry about what I can control.”

Receiver Greg Little traveled to Oklahoma during the summer to work with Weeden and has stayed after practice to catch passes from him. He’s confident Weeden will keep the job.

“I think he’s doing everything right to take those steps of being the starter,” Little said. “He prepares himself well and he comes out every day ready to work and gets better every day. I think he’s very well ready to take that step for Coach naming him the starter.”

Weeden has been inconsistent during camp, but there have been more good throws and decisions than bad ones. And he’s had the edge on Campbell and No. 3 quarterback Brian Hoyer.

“It’s been up and down, but I think overall I’ve continued to make steady progress,” Weeden said.
Chudzinski agrees.

“You look at maybe a day or a play or a throw or this or that and it may be something that you would like him to improve on, and you use it,” he said. “You see him start to improve and make the corrections and you see the progress.”

He wants to see more.

“The plan is to find the right guy,” Chudzinski said. “The process has been what it has been to this point. We will make determinations along the way. At whatever point is the right time to do that, we will name a starter.”

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.