New Cleveland Browns quarterback
Having spent a few years in the New York Yankees’ minor league baseball organization, Weeden felt he knew what to expect when he walked from the locker room and on to the fields behind the Browns’ world headquarters in Berea for the first of five practices during this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
“I just think you know how to prepare,” Weeden said during his post-practice press conference. “That’s what I was talking about with one of the receivers that’s a second-year guy. He said, ‘It’s so much more laid back because you go about your business and if you’re prepared, you play well. If you don’t, you’re gone.’ I think that’s the same mentality I had in baseball.”
Weeden compared himself to a sponge and said he will be a player who is trying to absorb all of the messages being taught from Browns coach Pat Shurmur, quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple and offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
“If you put in extra work, usually, it pays off and it’s the same thing at the quarterback position,” Weeden said. “You’re continually learning and I’m always asking questions. They’re all throwing in coaching points through the day, so I’m just trying to be a sponge and apply it the next time I try to do the same thing.”
Once he left the game of baseball, Weeden threw for 9,260 yards and 75 touchdowns against 27 interceptions during his four-year career at Oklahoma State University.
During his last two seasons in Stillwater, Weeden completed 66.93 and 72.39 percent of his passes, respectively. As a senior in 2011, Weeden completed 409 of 565 attempts for 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns. He ran the Cowboys’ offense almost exclusively from the Shotgun formation after rupturing a tendon in his thumb under center.
Taking snaps under center and developing his footwork are two things Weeden has practiced a lot since leading the Cowboys to a Fiesta Bowl win over the Stanford Cardinal back in January. During Friday’s morning practice, Shurmur gave Weeden advice on making his first step in a drop-back situation.
“Every day, I’m doing some type of footwork drill, throwing routes, doing different five- and seven-step drops,” Weeden said. “The one he was talking to me about was the ‘Sprint Right’ when you try to get your momentum going and you’ve got to false step. They teach you not to false step, but when you sprint right, you try to get your momentum going. He was just trying to help me out and get me on the move a little faster.”
As a rookie quarterback, Weeden will spend hours and hours getting accustomed to the team’s playbook and studying film, both of his teammates and upcoming opponents to best prepare himself to play.
In Cleveland now through the team’s last organized team activities and minicamp sessions in June, Weeden is excited about working in a competitive situation with fellow Browns quarterbacks
“That’s the approach we’re all going to take,” Weeden said. “I think all of us here plan on having a job and it’s going to fun. We’re going to do whatever we can to help this team win games, plan-and-simple, whether it’s me or (McCoy). Obviously, I hope I’m the guy and I’m going to do everything in my power to be that guy, but you’ve got to take it one step at a time. I’ve got to keep learning.”
As he gets accustomed to the Browns’ system, Weeden hopes to lead the team to football’s ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.
“We are coming with a goal to win games,” Weeden said. “Obviously, our first goal is to get to the playoffs. Before I am done playing, I want to win a Super Bowl. I know Browns fans are extremely passionate and I think that’s the way it should be. They have great fans. I have gotten a lot of support on Twitter and throughout here even in the last day in the community. My message would be to come out and support us, stay with us the entire time. There are going to be ups and downs, that’s the way it is with every team, but I can tell you these guys that go to bat every day on Sundays and Mondays or whenever, we are playing our hearts out for everybody, especially the people in the stands. We are going to try to do everything we can to win games.”
TAKING AIM FOR SCIENCE
Prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, Weeden took part in an experiment for ESPN’s Sport Science.
He flew out to Los Angeles and took aim at clay pigeons, but instead of shooting them with a gun, Weeden was targeting them with an NFL football. After completing the task and hitting four out of five pigeons during one stretch, Weeden noticed a similarity between throwing a football and hitting a clay pigeon with a shotgun.
“It’s kind of like a slant when you try to get the ball and the clay pigeon to meet,” Weeden said. “I’m not going to lie, the first time I threw, I missed by about six feet because my timing was way off. I got closer and I think I hit my eighth one and I hit four out of five at one point. It was a lot tougher than I thought. I was actually nervous. They only had 100 clay pigeons and I was kind of nervous I wouldn’t hit one. I was kind of sweating.”
Before starting practice with his new quarterback, Shurmur saw the video of Weeden throwing at the clay pigeons.
“Accuracy is very spatial and for him to hit clay pigeons is pretty impressive,” Shurmur said. “It speaks to timing and accuracy, which I think does correlate. He does have a strong arm, so we’ll be able to do some things that we weren’t able to do a year ago.”
When asked if he considered himself a natural thrower, Weeden admitted that he did.
“I have, not that I haven’t worked at it, but even when I first picked up a football, I have always been kind of a natural thrower,” Weeden said. “If we get our feet set, it’s really easy. I was fortunate. When I got to the college level, I really took a lot of pride in it -- accuracy. Today, I threw the ball fairly accurately, not as good as I can, but it will get better. I have been blessed to be able to throw the football. Even when I played baseball, I threw the football every single year, so it’s been in my blood.”