BEREA, Ohio — The education of a rookie continued Sunday.
Brandon Weeden got baptism by pads, and he understood immediately that the first Cleveland Browns training camp practice in full gear meant the intensity was that much higher.
“Especially for the defensive guys,” Weeden said. “Throwing the pads on, thudding up. They were in the locker room hungry to do that, so everybody is intense. The offensive line is intense because they can stick their nose in there, the backs are wanting to get hit a little bit.
“It’s definitely a step forward as far as intensity and the level of competition.”
The overriding message that came out of the practice, and the first three days of camp, about the Browns rookie quarterback: When Weeden makes mistakes, he learns.
That’s the good thing.
The negative: He made enough mistakes that it looked a bit like a return to earth after the high of minicamp.
On one seven-on-seven throw down the left sideline, Weeden was intercepted by safety Eric Haag. It followed a Saturday that Weeden admitted was not his best. Call it part of the never-ending-Cleveland Browns process, in which a new quarterback learns as he goes.
“(Saturday) I didn’t throw some balls like I normally do,” Weeden said, “but if you watched today, some of the throws that I missed (Saturday), I was spot on today.”
There were some spot-on throws, but some others that weren’t. One comeback to Mohamed Massaquoi was a good thrown, but Weeden threw away a pass to the sideline because nobody was open.
As for the pick by Haag, who is fast impressing the coaching staff, Weeden credited the safety.
“He made a great play,” Weeden said. “It was really the right read. He just made a great play.”
This is clearly part of Weeden’s learning curve. A pass in minicamp that might look good might not fly in training camp because the intensity is that much higher as guys fight for jobs and starting spots.
Things gear up at each step — from rookie minicamp to full-team minicamp to OTAs to training camp to preseason games to regular-season games. Weeden needs to learn and be ready at the same time. Example: The team gave Weeden a bunch of new plays to work on Saturday, plays he’d never practiced. It could have been a reason he struggled.
Coach Pat Shurmur had little negative to say about Weeden, who continues to get the bulk of the work with the starters.
“I think he’s doing very well,” Shurmur said. “Part of this process is getting to know the receivers. Part of this process is now executing the addition of the running game. I think he’s doing a nice job.”
Shurmur pointed out that some of Weeden’s work was in a third-and-long situational drill. On one play, Weeden tried to throw to rookie Travis Benjamin but told the coach when the play was over if it were a game he’d have taken the checkdown to running back Trent Richardson.
“Third-and-long is a tough down,” Shurmur said. “So you saw them seeing what they could try to get away with a little bit, to see if they could get the first.”
Shurmur said one thing he’s noticed with Weeden is he’s eager to correct a mistake when he makes one.
“I can think of a handful of mistakes he made today that he’ll never do again,” Shurmur said. “But he’s had a chance to practice it, so it won’t show up again. I think that’s what I’ve seen from him is he does something, if he hasn’t done it right, then he’s in (the facility) looking at it and he’ll come out and that mistake won’t happen again.”
Weeden said he usually watches tape — “push rewind” was the way he described it — every night until midnight. He pointed out it’s a problem to make a mistake, but it’s worse to repeat it.
“You don’t like to make them, but at this position you got to have thick skin and you got to be able to move on to the next play,” he said. “Some guys are better at it than others, but I’d like to say that’s one of my strengths is moving on if something goes wrong.”
It’s all part of learning, all part of growing into the job. Veteran, experienced quarterbacks use training camp to refine what they know. A rookie has to learn on the fly and be ready. Learning from a mistake in practice will keep it from happening in games. That’s the idea, at least.
At least it is with the good ones.
“We’re all going to make mistakes,” Weeden said. “That’s why we practice.”