BEREA—Rob Chudzinski still wouldn’t declare Brandon Weeden as the Browns starting quarterback as the team heads to training camp, but all signs indicate that.
“I see (the order) the same (as coming into the OTAs and minicamp),” Chudzinski said. “It’s just become clearer as we’ve gotten to know them more.”
Chudzinski said the pecking order remains the same with Weeden first, Jason Campbell second and Brian Hoyer third.
Weeden has taken almost all of the reps with the first team, while Campbell the second group and Hoyer the third. Weeden connected with Josh Gordon and Gary Barnidge on back-to-back touchdown throws in the final minicamp practice.
“I see improvement out of all of them, especially looking at the last two days,” Chudzinski said. “I really see that they all have been able to take the things that we learned throughout the course of OTAs and then bring them here to minicamp and show improvement.”
Chudzinski is very impressed with the group of quarterbacks the Browns have.
“That group, overall, is one of the best groups I’ve been around in terms of chemistry and helping each other out and it’s really good,” Chudzinski said. “There’s a really good vibe in that room.”
Chudzinski offered his assessment on Weeden at the conclusion of minicamp.
“I think Brandon has done a nice job, to this point,” Chudzinski said. “Everything we’ve asked him to do. Certainly, it hasn’t been perfect, but having to adjust to Norv (Turner) yelling at him and making the adjustments and corrections, you’ve seen progress.
“I think you have seen it out here he’s getting the ball out quicker and he’s sped up his delivery and his understanding and comfort level, you can see it.”
Chudzinski said Campbell has been what the Browns expected when they signed him as an unrestricted free agent.
“I am pleased with Jason,” he said. “He is everything we had hoped for from a leadership standpoint and a guy that can come in and doesn’t need every single rep in practice. He’s been in the system before and he understands what he’s doing.”
He also said he has been happy with the way Hoyer has picked up the offense since arriving.
“Brian coming in late and in a short time and he has a real good feel,” Chudzinski said. “He’s been around and has been in a number of systems and knows what we’re trying to get done. I like the direction of this group. We’ve got a ways to go but we’re on the right track.”
Weeden says he views himself as the starting quarterback.
“I don’t want that to change,” he said. “That would be tough. I’m still competing everyday with myself and worried about me.
“My approach hasn’t changed,” he said. “I’m in the huddle with the same guys and I have approached it the same from day one.”
He said he’s been able to get a good grasp on the new offense.
“It’s all starting to make sense,” he said. “I’m right where I wanted to be. There are some things I wanted to work on but I’m pleased with my progress. I’m pleased but am I satisfied? No.”
He said the difference between last year’s offense under Pat Shurmur and this year’s under Turner is night and day different.
“Imagine going to Spanish class one hour and then going to Russian class the next,” he said. “It’s still football, just different verbiage. They’re both good systems, but nothing is the same from last year.”
Weeden said at the start of the off-season program he was working on his foot work and his delivery.
“It’s coming along well and it all results in good timing and your success is higher,” he said. “It helps you speed up your feet and understand where you’re going with the football.”
Weeden said his primary goal is for the Browns to win, but he is shooting for completing 70 percent of his passes this season. He was 57.4 percent as a rookie in 2012.
“Completions are big no matter what system you play in,” he said. “If you’re around that 70 percent (mark) you’re doing some really good things.
“That would be my goal,” he said. “Winning games is obviously more important, but that would be my goal (in terms of completion percentage).”
Weeden thinks the Browns can have a good season.
“I think we have a chance to be really good, speaking about the whole team,” he said. “I think we have the potential to be really good. We’re going to have to go out and prove to do it on a consistent basis.”
Chudzinski said ultimately who will be under center when the regular season begins, will be based on production.
“I think all of those guys have progressed,” Chudzinski said. “When we get out there in pads and we see them in situations, we’ll be looking for improvement there. It will be about production.”
Mingo Determined: No. 1 draft choice Barkevious Mingo is making the transition to the NFL and is expected to log a lot of playing time. Whether or not he is a starter from day one is to be seen, but Mingo plans on being in the mix.
“I’m very determined,” Mingo said. “That’s the goal. That should be everybody’s goal. You want to play, you want to help the team win, but you’ve got to put in the work.”
Mingo doesn’t want anything handed to him just because he was the sixth-overall draft choice.
“You don’t want anything given to you,” Mingo said. “So you earn the respect and put in the work to get what you want.”
Mingo admitted he is learning from playing defensive end at LSU and playing outside linebacker.
“It’s a learning curve,” he said. “I’ve been thrown into a different position.”
Mingo has displayed his athleticism in the minicamp. He batted down a pass from QB Jason Campbell on Tuesday and on Wednesday he tipped a pass from Brian Hoyer than was intercepted by Trevin Wade.
The Switch: Chudzinski said that Jabaal Sheard is making a smooth transition thus far from defensive end to outside linebacker.
“Jabaal has done a great job,” Chudzinski said. “You look at him making the transition from defensive end to outside backer. He is understanding the drop concepts and really looks real natural in that position.”
Sheard has been working primarily at right outside linebacker opposite of Paul Kruger and ahead of Barkevious Mingo.
Cameron Out: TE Jordan Cameron was on the stationary bike after injuring his hamstring on Wednesday. Cameron sat out last week’s OTAs with a groin injury. Cameron joined WR Jordan Norwood (hamstring), WR David Nelson (knee), OL Chris Faulk (knee), DB Jamoris Slaugher (achilles) and RB Trent Richardson (lower leg strain) on the sidelines.
Chudzinski was asked if he was concerned about Cameron having a lingering injury.
“Those are always things you have to work through, but I am not concerned at this point.”
Chudzinski said he expects all of the players who have been sitting out to be ready for the start of training camp. The only player he hesitated on was rookie OL Chris Faulk, who is coming off a major knee surgery.
Prince Out: DB Prince Miller was released from the Browns roster. Miller appeared in two games last season for the Browns, mostly on special teams.
Barnidge Stepping Up: TE Gary Barnidge was signed as an unrestricted free agent but had the tag of being more of a blocking back after catching just 18 passes in his first five NFL seasons, all with the Panthers.
Barnidge has made some excellent catches during the minicamp and has taken advantage of TE Jordan Cameron missing Thursday’s final practice with a hamstring injury. Barnidge made a nice touchdown catch in the final day of practice Thursday.
“Gary is a guy who had some injuries earlier in his career,” Chudzinski said. “I think he is a versatile guy who can do both and he is getting better.”
Adios: The Browns finished the three day minicamp Thursday and have nothing scheduled for the whole team until training camp begins late in July. The rookies will still be around working with the coaches and going through rookie orientation and education programs.
Chudzinski said he feels the Browns are in good position to be ready to take the field on July 26 when training camp officially opens.
“We finished up and I am looking forward to getting back in training camp with all the fans out here next time,” Chudzinski said.
He said the Browns are on schedule as they head to camp.
“From the mental standpoint, installing our systems – offensively, defensively, special teams – I think the guys have gotten a good grasp of what we are doing,” he said. “The nut and bolts, the basic things are in and we will hopefully be able to build from there when we get back.”