Alex Tanney can perform trick shots with a football. The Browns don’t need him to do anything more fancy than learn their plays.
At least, for now.
With starter Jason Campbell out with a concussion, the Browns agreed to contract terms with Tanney on Tuesday, bringing him in to back up Brandon Weeden, who is expected to start on Sunday against Jacksonville.
Tanney has spent this season on Dallas’ practice squad. The second-year pro set several Division III records while at Monmouth College (Ill.), and he’s also a YouTube sensation with a video in which he throws a football over scoreboards, into a moving pickup truck, from 40 yards from his knees to hit a goal post’s crossbar, and into basketball hoops from long range.
The Browns had one quarterback on their roster and needed some insurance in case Weeden, who has twice lost his job and is being booed by Browns fans, gets hurt or struggles.
Tanney completed 40 of 73 passes for 423 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the exhibition season for the Cowboys. He signed as an undrafted free agent with Kansas City last year, but spent the season on injured reserve with a finger injury.
At Monmouth, he set Division III career marks with 14,249 yards passing and 157 TDs.
On Monday, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Campbell is following the NFL’s protocol for head injuries after he was hurt in Sunday’s home loss to Pittsburgh. Campbell was struck in the head by cornerback William Gay on a blitz and the Browns QB banged his head on the frozen turf when he fell.
Campbell has not been formally ruled out, but Chudzinski said ”chances are” Weeden will start.
Weeden replaced Campbell and completed 13 of 30 passes for 209 yards with one interception (returned for a TD) and one score. The 30-year-old was targeted by some Browns fans, who booed him as he took the field and after every incompletion.
Browns linebacker Paul Kruger said the team has not lost confidence in Weeden, and empathizes with his situation.
”That’s the one position on the field that matters more than anything. You’ve got 53 other guys depending on you and you really can’t make a mistake,” he said. ”You’ve got to be a special guy. That’s a tough position. That’s why they get paid the way they do, they’re protected the way they are. There’s a reason for those things and it’s because those guys can change the game for the better or the worse.
”So I’ve got Brandon’s back. He’s a good player. He’s out here working hard every day. He’s got a strong arm. He’s smart. It’s a really hard position, and there’s only a few guys in the league who are exceptional at it.”
NOTES: The Browns were awarded TE Andre Smith on waivers from the Dallas Cowboys and waived OL Patrick Lewis and WR Brian Tyms. In his second NFL season, Smith appeared in three games with the Cowboys.