BEREA—Brandon Weeden was ready for the questions surrounding his future with the Browns.
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First, would the Browns replace him during the off-season?
“First, I haven’t listened to (the speculation),” Weeden said after the first minicamp practice. “And that’s the nature of this business. I can only control what I can control. They’re not going to set me out there if I don’t win games. You have to do it on the practice field. You have to compete.”
How would he react if the Browns draft a quarterback in next week’s draft or even in the first round?
“That’s the nature of this business,” he said. “I am worried about me. I can only control what I can control. There’s always speculation. I think I’ve grown from year one to year two. I think this is the most important time for me going from year one to year two to show that I’ve made progress.”
Weeden is excited about the offense that Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner have brought to the Browns and he thinks it’s well suited to him.
“This offense possesses a lot of the strengths that I have throwing the ball down the field and throwing deeper routes and being in the shot gun more,” he said. “(The Chargers) Philip Rivers was in the shotgun 70 percent of the time (under Turner).
“It is stuff that I’ve done in the past,” he s aid. “Norv has been in this offense 25 to 30 years and knows the offense like the back of his hand. He’s a great resource. It’s a great scheme, not only for me, but for the guys we have.”
Weeden likes the prospects of being in the shotgun frequently.
“One you have your eyes up and you can see the defense,” he said. “The only negative is you don’t have the ball in your hand right away. It’s things I have done my entire life.”
Weeden played in 15 games as a rookie and was 297-of-517 for 3,385 yards with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. His 3,385 passing yards are a Browns rookie record and it was the second-most passing yards since the team returned in 1999 by a Browns quarterback. The mark was the seventh-highest ever by an NFL rookie quarterback.
Chudzinksi said that Weeden took the first reps with the starters.
“Brandon got the reps with the first team,” Chudzinski said. “It’s early in the process. (Jason)Campbell will get reps along the way.”
Chudzinski says there is no timetable for naming a starter.
“The goal is finding a starter,” he said. “We’ll see how they do. There is no time or date.”
Chudzinski said he likes what he sees of Weeden after the first practice.
“You see a guy with the tools, a good arm and the ability to get the ball down the field,” Chudzinski said. “Last year, he was a rookie and we’re looking for progress.”
Weeden admitted that he wasn’t happy with his completion percentage in 2012, which was just 57.4 percent. He said he’s worked very hard with former NFL quarterback Chris Wienke in the off-season on several things to improve his accuracy.
“I’ve watched every game and there are a few things fundamentally,” he said. “I spent a lot of time working on not patting the ball and on speeding my feet up and on getting the ball out of your hand.
“That will lead to better accuracy,” he said. “There were times last year that I missed throws that I have never missed before. You have to get the fundamentals down and that will help.”
Weeden said he is much more comfortable in his second year and can already see the difference.
“Being a second year guy is big,” he said. “I don’t care even though I was 28 still last year, it is hard being the vocal guy. My job is to take control and be the guy and be the leader. There is a comfort level that wasn’t there last year. I’ve seen the difference this year as I’ve been more proactive.”
Weeden likes that the Browns brought in Campbell to give Weeden competition.
“Jason’s been great,” he said. “I’m glad to have him on board. He’s been around nine years but he’s another set of eyes. He’s going to help me a lot and we’ll help each other.
“I want to compete and I want competition to make you better. That’s important.”
Browns take the field: The Browns took the field for the first time under first year coach Rob Chudzinski with 62 players on the roster participating and three tryout players in attendance.
“It was great to be out on the field,” Chudzinski said after his first practice as Browns coach. “You get tired of being in the office. I was impressed with the team and the energy and focus they had.”
Chudzinski knows the Browns have much ground to cover.
“We have a lot of work to do.” Chudzinski said. “These three days are really a learning camp.”
There were 16 players who were not with the team last year, including unrestricted free agents Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant, Quentin Groves, Kellen Davis and Jason Campbell.
There were also prominent members of last year’s team missing were: Phil Dawson, Josh Cribbs, Ben Watson, Mohamed Massaquoi, Usama Young, Colt McCoy, Sheldon Brown, Reggie Hodges, Frostee Rucker, Juqua Parker, Scott Fujita, Alex Smith and Chris Gocong.
Haslam Speaks: Browns owner Jimmy Haslam spoke in Knoxville to reporters about the raid by the FBI and the IRS that took place Monday at his company’s headquarters in Knoxville.
Haslam was asked about the effect on the Browns.
“I apologize because the last thing we ever want to do is put any kind of blemish on the city of Cleveland, which we’ve grown to love, or the Browns,” Haslam said. “So I personally feel bad about that, even though I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong.”
The investigation of Pilot Flying J apparently revolves around the “application of rebates to a small group of Pilot Flying J trucking company customers,” a company spokesman said. Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney in Knoxville, told the Associated Press that four search warrants have been served on Pilot Flying J. He said the reasons for the warrants are sealed.
Haslam said he expects to be in Berea on Thursday and Friday in preparation for the NFL Draft that begins on April 25.
“It’s business as usual,” he said.
Hopefully, he doesn’t mean in the win column.
No Pinkston, Nelson: OL Jason Pinkston did not participate in the first day of minicamp practice during the time the media was permitted to watch practice. Pinkston had a blood clot in his lung last season and missed the majority of the season. He posted on his Twitter account that he was medically cleared to resume practicing with the Browns on Monday.
Also, not practicing was WR David Nelson, who is coming off of a torn ACL he suffered in the season-opening game last year while playing for the Bills. He was signed as an undrafted free agent and is expected to be ready for training camp.
Chudzinski confirmed that Pinkston has been cleared to play and also that Nelson is on schedule.
“There’s good news for Jason and we’ll incrementally get him back on the field,” Chudzinski said. “David’s rehabbing his knee and should be ready for training camp.”
Tryout Guys: The Browns announced that they had three players participating in this week’s minicamp, all with NFL experience. WR Legedu Naanee, WR Seyi Ajirotutu and CB Chris Rucker.
Naanee (6-2, 215) is a six-year pro who played last season with the Dolphins and previously with the Chargers. Ajirotutu (6-5, 215) is a four-year veteran who played with the Chargers last season. Rucker (6-1, 210) is a two year played who last played with the Colts in 2011.
By the Numbers: The Browns have 64 players listed on their roster that was handed out at the first minicamp. Newly signed K Shayne Graham is the oldest player on the roster at 35. Graham is wearing No. 7The only other player over the age of 30 is undrafted free agent QB Jason Campbell…Including Rob Chudzinski, the Browns have 21 coaches listed on their staff. That’s currently a 1-to-3 ratio of coaches to players.