July 29, 2014

Medina
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Browns: Brandon Weeden blasts SI’s expose of Oklahoma State

BEREA — Quarterback Brandon Weeden was ready for the question. When he got it Wednesday, he let loose with a couple of high, hard fastballs that didn’t miss the target.

Weeden had been seething since Tuesday, when he read the first of Sports Illustrated’s five-part expose on widespread corruption at Oklahoma State, his alma mater.

Brandon Weeden

“I’ve read the first story that came out and literally I laughed throughout the entire thing,” said Weeden, who was the starter in 2011 when Oklahoma State won the Big 12 and a BCS bowl game. “It’s comical for a lot of reasons.

“First of all, clean slate, I didn’t take any money or do anything like that.”

Sports Illustrated’s series doesn’t mention Weeden, but chronicles a decade of extreme NCAA violations from 2001-11 at Oklahoma State. They include boosters and coaches paying players for performance, institutional academic fraud and drug abuse that was largely ignored by school officials.

Weeden was with the Cowboys for five years, leaving after 2011 as the career leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns. He said he never received any money or saw anyone else get paid, and stressed that coach Mike Gundy and T. Boone Pickens, the university’s chief benefactor, make it a priority to abide by the rules.

“Coach Gundy does an unbelievable job of running a clean program, and he takes a lot of pride in that,” Weeden said. “Mr. Pickens is all about keeping everything clean and playing by the rules and doing the right thing. In my five years there, I saw nothing but that.

“It was a very clean-run organization, no wrongdoings of anything that I ever saw and that goes back to when I was a freshman, 23 years old. I’m not naive enough to think that stuff doesn’t go on at other universities, but I have to say that I never saw anything go on and it’s comical.”

Weeden directed much of his hostility toward Sports Illustrated writer Thayer Evans, who shared the byline with George Dohrmann.

“The guy who wrote the article has always had it out for Oklahoma State,” Weeden said. “He’s got a track record. You can go look it up. The truth will come out. I’m surprised.

“Here’s what I’m surprised about is that a credible institution like Sports Illustrated would do 10 months of investigation and they have no credible facts to go along with the story.”

Weeden knows Evans from his days with the Cowboys.

“We had a little run-in at Texas,” Weeden said. “He’s an OU (Oklahoma) guy. He’s always had it out for Oklahoma State, so he comes up to me after we beat Texas and he said, ‘When’s it going to happen? When’s Okie State going to pull its Okie choke like they always do?’ I laughed and said, ‘Who is this clown?’

“He knows who he is and he knows his agenda. He’s got a wrong one.”

Sports Illustrated said reporters talked to 64 former players, all of whom spoke on the record. It acknowledged most didn’t graduate and many left on bad terms.

“The guys that they did question were not very good sources to question because they are kids that got kicked off the team for drugs or for whatever it might be,” Weeden said. “They were dismissed and so these are guys that aren’t real credible.”

Feeling good

Weeden was sacked six times and hit 10 more in the opening loss to the Dolphins. He had welts on his body and was nursing a sore shoulder after the game.

“I feel good,” he said before practicing fully. “I’ve had a few days to do what you’ve got to do normally, cold tub, hot tub, those kinds of things.”

Weeden was 26-for-53 for 289 yards, a touchdown, three interceptions and a 48.4 rating. Two of the interceptions bounced off the hands of receivers, and coach Rob Chudzinski said there were passes Weeden should’ve thrown more softly.

“Looking back, I would like to have taken a little bit off probably,” Weeden said. “I want to make it as easy as possible for those guys to catch it. It doesn’t matter if you throw it hard or soft or whatever, as long as they catch it. That’s all we really care about. If they want me to take something off, whatever they want me to do, I’ll find a way to do it.”

Injury report

Strong safety T.J. Ward (shoulder) and defensive end Ahtyba Rubin (calf) rode the stationary bike and didn’t practice. Right guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle) didn’t practice and wasn’t on the field. Chudzinski didn’t rule out anyone for Sunday. Rubin and Lauvao were inactive vs. the Dolphins. Ward missed a series but returned to the game.

“T.J. Ward was sore today,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll hold him and see where he’s at for tomorrow.”

Ward said he was injured early on a collision with Miami’s tight end.

“It’s been feeling better every day,” Ward said. “I’m pretty positive about the injury.”

Does he think he’ll play vs. the Ravens?

“We’ll see,” he said.

Lauvao said he’s been out of a walking boot for a week but didn’t know if he’ll practice this week.

• Cornerback Buster Skrine (shoulder) and receiver Travis Benjamin (thigh) were limited.

• For the Ravens, receiver/returner Jacoby Jones (knee) was ruled out for the game. Tackle Michael Oher (ankle) was a full participant in practice.

Extra points

Chudzinski said backup running back Bobby Rainey will remain the primary kickoff returner for the second straight week. Rainey was waived by Baltimore after training camp and seemed headed for the practice squad before the Browns claimed him. He averaged 25.8 yards on four kickoff returns against Miami.

“We think he is a heckuva player,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

• Outside linebacker Paul Kruger, who spent the last four years with the Ravens, was named the game captain for this week.

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.