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Weeden named starting quarterback

Posted Aug 6, 2012

Rookie Brandon Weeden has been named the starting quarterback, Browns coach Pat Shurmur announced Monday.

Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur has named rookie Brandon Weeden the starting quarterback for the team’s Friday night preseason opener against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field following Monday afternoon’s practice.

Shurmur chose to start Weeden, the team’s second first-round pick from April’s NFL Draft, over veterans Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace and Thaddeus Lewis.

“Brandon Weeden will start the Detroit game and he’ll be our starter as we go forward,” Shurmur said. “Brandon has been getting most of the reps with the ones, so we’re not just starting the development. We’re just ramping it up now.

“He’s an outstanding thrower who knows how to play the position. He’s a good decision-maker. He’s working through the progressions and understanding where the ball goes. He’s accurate and when he gets in the huddle. He’s wired right to play the position, so he’s going to be our guy.”

Weeden was a two-year starter at Oklahoma State University and finished his career with 15 school records.

He completed 767 of 1,103 attempts for 9,260 yards and 75 touchdowns during his time at Oklahoma State. During his senior year, Weeden completed 409 of 565 attempts for 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns. The yardage and touchdown totals were school single-season records. Weeden finished second in the nation in passing yards during the 2011 season.

As a junior, Weeden completed 342 of 511 attempts for 4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns.

“We’ve watched him compete now through all the offseason and through training camp for more than a week,” Shurmur said. “We’ve seen him get a pretty good handle on what we’re doing, although, it’s important to remember, he still is a rookie and there will be things that have got to get cleaned up as we go. I would say the same thing for Colt, Seneca or Thad. I’ve seen them improve tremendously as guys that were here a year ago. I feel better about our quarterback position.”

Although he is a 28-year old NFL rookie, Weeden is no stranger to professional competition.

Weeden spent five seasons in professional baseball after he was a second-round pick (No. 71 overall) of the New York Yankees in the 2002 MLB Draft. He was a Class A New York-Penn League All-Star pitcher and spent time in the Yankees, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers’ organizations.

On Friday, he will be lining up against a Detroit defense that generated 41 sacks, led by defensive end Cliff Avril’s 11.

“Detroit has a very aggressive defense,” Shurmur said. “They take pride in rushing the passer and they’re a playoff team from a year ago. They’ve got things that they want to get accomplished that would go beyond just being in the playoffs, just like the rest of us, so it’ll be a good test.”

THE USUAL WAY

During the preseason, each team’s starters gradually get more work with the third game being the opportunity for them to play into the third quarter and feel what it is like to respond after having a full halftime of adjustments.

Despite Weeden’s lack of NFL experience, Shurmur does not envision much of a change in that philosophy in order to get his starting quarterback more repetitions in game competition.

“We’ll play him with the ones and how it plays out, it plays out,” Shurmur said. “We’ll have to manage it a little bit. Typically, in your third preseason game, you’d play your ones into the third quarter, but that’s our opener against Philadelphia. It may play out this preseason differently because of that.”

RUNNING THE BALL

In addition to the competition the Browns had at quarterback, the team has also been working on the running back position.

Veterans Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson appear healthy and with a renewed spirit on the football field. With the drafting of Trent Richardson from the University of Alabama in April, the veterans have competed with the rookie to develop a corps of successful running backs.

“There’s plenty of football left to see what those guys bring to the table,” Shurmur said of Hardesty and Jackson. “I think we’re going to be able to see what we need to see from both of those players. There are guys that have played in games and there are guys that look different to me. Montario’s changed his body; he’s healthy. Brandon Jackson’s had a year in our system and he looks healthy. They’ll get their opportunities to carry the football, for sure.”

OFFICIALS VISIT

The league’s game officials made their annual visit to Berea and were able to participate in practice by calling the drills as if it were a game. Shurmur appreciated the help from the officials and felt it was a good thing for his team to encounter before starting the preseason in Detroit.

“They’ll be here today, tomorrow and then, the Stadium practice on Wednesday,” Shurmur said. “It’s the traditional three-day visit. They’re replacement officials. They’re just like us. It’s training camp for them. They’re trying to get their game right and I thought it was good today. Their presence out there was good. We had them call the fouls and they’re working on their mechanics. It was good for them to be out here because our guys need that.”

FILLING A SPOT

Monday afternoon’s practice was the team’s first since linebacker Chris Gocong suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon during Saturday morning’s session at the Berea training facility. In Gocong’s absence, the Browns moved fourth-year professional Kaluka Maiava into the starting lineup.

Maiava started six games for the Browns last year, including the final five at weak side linebacker when Gocong moved to the strong side and replaced Scott Fujita, who suffered a broken hand in a 23-20 loss at Cincinnati last November.

“He’s very quick; he’s very instinctive,” Shurmur said of Maiava. “He brings to the defense all the things that make him a good special teams player. He’s a good tackler, quick, is good in coverage, so I think he’ll be able to fill in and do a good job.”