BEREA–One of the worst kept secrets in Berea was that there was a quarterback competition going on.
However, there is no more as Rob Chudzinski officially named Brandon Weeden the starter for the regular season.
“With the exception of right guard, cornerback, kicker and the punter position, we’ll start the group (against the Colts) that we’re expecting on starting at the beginning of the season,” Chudzinski said. “That included the quarterback position where Brandon Weeden will be the starting quarterback for this team.
“My decision as far as the quarterback goes, number one is that all three quarterbacks have shown very well,” he said. “I’ve seen significant improvement out of all of them and have become comfortable with them all.”
Chudzinski said it was important for him to “go through the process” of deciding on the quarterback. He also said the timing was right as they team is shifting from training camp to the regular season.
“Based on this process, Brandon has earned this job,” Chudzinski said. “That is extremely important to me that he did and he has gained my complete trust and he’s gained his teammates complete trust and this organization’s trust and we’re all behind him and we will all behind him and be there to support him.”
Weeden was asked if he feels the entire organization is behind him.
“I do,” he said. “There’s a lot of excitement and I feel support from everybody from the players on up.”
Joe Thomas said there wasn’t much of a doubt that Weeden would be the quarterback as he’s taken virtually every snap with the first team in practice since the beginning of the spring practices.
“I guess I didn’t know that it was in question,” Thomas said. “So, I guess I hadn’t been worrying about it.
“Honestly, the guys in the locker room weren’t worrying about it,” he said. “Obviously, it was a subject of chatter among the fans.”
Trent Richardson feels that Weeden has earned the job.
“Brandon earned it,” Richardson said. “Competition makes each other better.
“I think Brandon can bring the team to a whole new level.”
Chudzinski said it was important for the process to play itself out and that Weeden earned the job and wasn’t handed to him.
Weeden was excited about the official proclamation, but said it doesn’t really change his mindset.
“It’s exciting,” Weeden said. “I felt like I worked my tail off in the off season from the spring through OTAs and up to this point. It’s rewarding. Obviously, everybody in this locker room wants to be on the field and contribute to this team and win games. I’m excited moving forward.
“Now, my main focus is going out and to win as many games and helping this offense to (play well) this entire year.”
Weeden is much more comfortable in his second season and that’s one of the keys for him.
“I think just comfort within the system. the guys around me and comfort, overall and how to go about (my business),” he said. “I think I’m ahead of the curve now, but when I say that before the season, I still have a season to play and a lot of football ahead of me to play, but I’m excited about making that jump, and hopefully, becoming a better play and helping this team win.”
Thomas agreed that Weeden is more comfortable in year two.
“He’s just more comfortable and I think that’s the natural progression for a guy in his second year,” Thomas said. “He’s asserting himself more and that just comes with it being his second year in the NFL.”
Weeden said his off-season work has showed on the field, but he’s not ready to rest on his laurels.
“I’ve taken the steps needed to better myself,” he said. “But I have to continue to work to do the things that I’ve done all along to become that player that I want to be. So I’m not satisfied. I feel like I have a lot of work to do and that’s kind of my mindset moving forward.”
When the new regime of Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi and Chudzinski took over, it was uncertain what the Browns would do at quarterback. Would they draft a quarterback or bring in a veteran to replace Weeden. They chose not to draft one but brought in Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer to compete with him.
Weeden said he understood why they had some questions about him.
“I knew I was going to work hard,” Weeden said. “I knew I was going to hold up my end of the stick. I knew I was going to do what I was needed to do to get better and do the things I needed to do. It was just proving to guys that hard work does pay off. They were new. They hadn’t seen me in practice. They have been in the league a long time and I have a tremendous respect for those guys making the decisions. For me, it was just proving them right and show them that I could prepare and play at a high level.”
Weeden knows that in the NFL, nothing is ever a given.
“I think you have to (prove yourself) on a yearly basis,” he said. “Even more so, where you have new people in the building. All along, I new I had to impress the people who were ultimately going to make the decisions, but that’s the same for all 90 of us who are out here. My mindset didn’t change. My mindset is getting better and to focus on the things I need to do to become a better player.”
Weeden feels the offense is playing to his strengths.
“Every guy has strengths and it’s kind of two-fold,” he said. “The nice thing is now that we have the system in we can tinker with it to make it to fit the guys we have, which is the ultimate goal, to have the best play possible. It’s just finding the plays that I do well, the guys around me do well to make good football plays.”
Weeden gives a lot of credit to offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“Norv’s been outstanding,” he said. “He’s been around so many good quarterbacks and has made tremendous careers out of guys in this league. I had a lot of respect for him before we played against him last year. When he came on board, I was excited and he’s coached me hard every single day. Every single throw, whether I hit the guy between the numbers or I miss a guy, he coaches me the same and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, as well. He’s just a great football coach and a guy that I need to be a sponge around and need to soak up as much as I can.”
Weeden said deep down he didn’t doubt that he would end up being the Browns quarterback this year.
“I’ve never been one to doubt anything,” he said. “I’ve always put the pressure on myself to be the guy, so I was going to do everything I could to be the guy. My mentality was I was going to take the bull by the horns and be the guy and to make it that they had no choice but to make me the guy.”
Mingo Update: Chudzinski said that LB Barkevious Mingo will not play against the Colts but beyond that doesn’t know how long the rookie will be sidelined with the bruised lung. It all depends on the healing process and how Mingo’s lung heals.
“It’s an ongoing thing, but basically the bottom line with KeKe is nobody really knows,” he said. “It’s just how his body is going to heal.”
Lewis Upate: RB Dion Lewis had successful surgery to repair his broken fibula, but no final decision has been made on Lewis’ status. Chudzinski did say that it looked as though Lewis would be placed on season-ending injured reserve, but that roster decisions don’t have to be made until Aug. 31.
“The surgery went well and he’ll probably go to IR, but we don’t have to make any of those decisions yet.”
Right Guard Update: Both injured guards, Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston were in the locker room. Lauvao sprained his left ankle but then had arthroscopic surgery to clean it out. His left ankle was in a boot and he was walking with the help of a crutch.
“It’s going good,” he said. “Im making strides to come back as soon as I’m ready.”
Pinkston suffered a high ankle sprain to his right ankle and he had a boot on, but was walking in the locker room without crutches.
“I thought it was broken,” Pinkston said. “This injury is pretty easy compared to (last year’s).”
Pinkston suffered a blood clot to his lung in the sixth game of last season and spent the rest of the season on injured reserve. He wasn’t cleared to return to practice until this past spring.
Chudzinski said the right guard position is between OL John Moffitt, OL Garrett Gilkey and OL Oniel Cousins.
“It’s unfortunate at that position, first with Shawn and now with Pink,” Weeden said. “By adding a guy with experience is always a good thing, regardless of position.”
Moffitt was acquired by the Browns Monday in a trade for DL Brian Sanford.
Moffitt is excited about joining the Browns.
“It’s a good opportunity for me,” he said. “I’m excited to get the chance to compete for a starting job.”
Moffitt, who played a year with OL Joe Thomas at Wisconsin, said he was a bit surprised he was traded.
“I didn’t see (the trade) coming, but I am excited about it.” he said. “I look forward to a fresh start here.”
Moffitt started as a rookie after being a third-round draft choice in 2011, but injured his knee and missed the remainder of the season. He started the final six games of the 2012 season for Seattle.
He was taking his physical and might play this week against the Colts. Moffitt was on the practice field for a few minutes before going back to the locker room. He is wearing number 69.
Competition: Chudzinski said that other than at four positions, the players that start against the Colts are the players that are expected in as the starters for the opening game with the Dolphins. WR Josh Gordon is listed as the starter but will miss the first two games with a suspension.
The right guard spot and the cornerback battle between DB Buster Skrine and DB Chris Owens.
The other two positions are the specialists where Shayne Graham and Brandon Bogotay are battling for the kicking job and T.J. Conley and Spencer Lanning for the punter’s job.
Injury Update: Players not practicing Tuesday: Lauvao (ankle), Pinkston (ankle), RB Montario Hardesty (hamstring), DB Trevin Wade (shoulder), RB Dion Lewis (leg), LB Barkevious Mingo (lung), OL Ryan Miller (head), TE Gary Barnidge (shoulder), WR Naaman Roosevelt (hamstring), WR Jordan Norwood (hamstring), DL Desmond Bryant (back) and Bogotay (groin).
“We’re looking at it with Des (Bryant), but we don’t expect it to be anything serious,” Chudzinski said.
D Jackson in for Phil: LB D’Qwell Jackson has taken up residence where former Browns K Phil Dawson resided in the locker room for most of his 14-year career with the Browns. Jackson has the locker next to Dawson’s, but being a veteran he has two locker spaces and the second was formerly occupied by Dawson.