Browns quarterback carousel broken

The Browns’ muddled quarterback situation has gotten

messier.

They have four quarterbacks. No starter.

With Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell both recovering from

concussions, and two new quarterbacks on the roster, Browns coach

Rob Chudzinski will wait until later this week – and maybe until

game time – to name his starter for Sunday’s game at New England.

Chudzinski doesn’t know if or when Weeden and Campbell will be

medically cleared to practice, so there’s nothing he can do but be

patient.

Even for the Browns, who have had three different quarterbacks

start games this season and used an NFL-high 20 starters since

1999, this is new territory. Unwelcome territory.

For once, the Browns’ quarterback carousel isn’t spinning. It’s

stalled.

”It’s a very fluid situation, unique, one that I haven’t

necessarily been around,” said Chudzinski, who had the Browns at

3-2 in his first season before they dropped six of seven and out of

playoff contention.

Free agent Caleb Hanie, signed by the Browns on Tuesday,

struggled to describe Cleveland’s strange dilemma.

”It’s a little, I don’t know what the word would be for it,”

said Hanie, who started four games for Chicago in 2011. ”It’s part

of this league. It’s a crazy league. One week you’re sitting at

home eating Thanksgiving with your family and the next week you

could be playing for the Browns.”

With Campbell out last week, the Browns signed Alex Tanney off

Dallas’ practice squad. And when Weeden was diagnosed with a

concussion following Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville, the Browns

brought in Hanie, who has been out of the league since he was

released by Baltimore in August.

Hanie had been staying sharp by throwing to a friend on his high

school’s field in Forney, Texas. That’s a long way from facing the

Patriots and their defensive-minded coach Bill Belichick in

Foxborough, Mass.

Hanie worked out for the Browns last week, but the team decided

instead to sign Tanney.

Chudzinski planned to have Hanie and Tanney divide the plays

with Cleveland’s first-team offense in Wednesday’s practice. That’s

about as strategic Chudzinski could get until he knows whether

Campbell or Weeden will be in the mix to face Belichick, who

promised his team will be prepared for any Browns quarterback.

”We’ll be ready for all four of them,” Belichick said on a

conference call.

Chudzinski couldn’t even commit to who he would start if all

four quarterbacks are available. Weeden and Campbell must be

granted permission to return to the field by an independent

neurologist, the final step in the NFL’s protocol on head injuries.

Chudzinski did not indicate if one of his two starting QBs was

closer to coming back than the other or timing for a return.

Weeden was injured at some point in Sunday’s 32-28 loss to the

Jaguars. The second-year pro, who has benched twice this season for

inconsistent play, passed for a career-high 370 yards and threw

three TD passes and two interceptions – both in the final three

minutes of the first half. Weeden didn’t complain of any symptoms

until after the game when he was diagnosed with the injury.

Tanney served as Weeden’s backup last week and was ready to

play. Cleveland’s coaching staff had given him a package of plays,

and Tanney said he has progressed enough with the Browns’ system

that he could handle much more this week if chosen to make his

first career start.

He’s been cramming like a college student preparing for finals

to learn the Browns’ offense.

”I’m definitely growing in this system,” he said. ”If I was

called upon, I’m sure the game plan would be a little more

extensive, just picking out the favorite plays that I feel

comfortable with and able to execute them.”

Tanney hasn’t started a game since his senior season at Monmouth

(Ill.) College, a Division III program. He’s perhaps best known for

a YouTube video, on which he performs trick shots. If he gets the

starting nod form Chudzinski, Tanney will find himself matched up

against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a player he has long

admired.

”It would be something pretty special,” he said. ”Growing up

he was one of my favorite players. If I do get called, it will

definitely be exciting.”

Browns wide receiver Davone Bess said there’s no sense in

worrying about the Browns’ QB quandary.

”We have no choice,” he said. ”It’s easy to go south and be

sour about it. But we’ve still got the game to play. Guys in this

locker room still got character, and we want to get after it.”

NOTES: Browns DE Desmond Bryant will undergo a surgical

procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat and miss the remainder

of the season. Bryant will undergo the procedure this week, the

team said. … LBs Craig Robertson (sprained knee) and Tank Carder

(sprained shoulder) returned to practice. Robertson missed two

games with his injury and Carder sat out Sunday’s game. … With DB

Chris Owens (knee) going on injured reserve, rookie Leon McFadden

will get more time at nickel back.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org