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Weeden ready for next step in NFL

Posted Jun 26, 2013

Over the next few weeks, ClevelandBrowns.com will take a look at the 2013 Browns, position-by-position. Today’s spotlight is on the quarterbacks.

Overview:

The Cleveland Browns enter the 2013 season with second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden ready to take the next step in his professional career after a record-setting rookie season, and he has veteran signal-callers in Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer there to push him to improve in practice.

Weeden started 15 of the team’s 16 games last year and completed 297 of 517 attempts (57.4 percent) for 3,385 yards and 14 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. His 3,385 yards and five wins as a starting quarterback are Browns rookie records.

With Weeden passing for 3,385 yards, running back Trent Richardson’s 950 rushing yards and wide receiver Josh Gordon’s 805 receiving yards, the Browns became the second team in the Super Bowl era to have a rookie lead the team in each of those categories. Only the 1968 Buffalo Bills accomplished that feat.

Weeden finished the 2012 season second among rookies in passing yards, passing first downs (168) and 20-plus yard passes (48), and his 3,385 yards passing were the seventh-most ever by an NFL rookie quarterback. They were also the 10th most yards in a single season for a Browns signal-caller.

Last season, Weeden also threw for the four of the top five single-game passing yardage totals, including the top three, and three of the top five longest touchdown passes by a Browns rookie quarterback. His three 300-yard passing performances were the most-ever by a Browns rookie and tied for fourth in club history for a single season.

“I’m right where I wanted to be,” Weeden said after the team’s mandatory minicamp. “There’s obviously some things or some throws that I need to work on, that I maybe didn’t hit when I was out here, but overall, I think my progress was pretty good. We had 16 practices, and I think each practice got better. Not only for me, but the offense, the flow, how fast we were playing, we were still operating really fast. I’m pleased with it. Am I satisfied? Absolutely not.”

Key Number:

Fifteen.

Weeden started the first 15 games of his rookie season before an ankle injury in a 34-12 loss at Denver ended his year prematurely. In doing so, Weeden started the most games of any Browns quarterback since Derek Anderson started 15 in 2007.

In fact, Weeden’s passing yards, passing touchdowns, attempts and completions were either the most or tied for the most since Anderson completed 298 of 527 attempts for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns against 19 interceptions en route to the Pro Bowl following the 2007 season.

Players to Watch:

Campbell and Hoyer.

Campbell brings eight years of NFL experience to the Browns’ locker room, and is the most experienced quarterback on the team since Jake Delhomme (14 years) and Seneca Wallace (eight) came to the Browns prior to the 2010 regular season.

In that time, Campbell has started 71 of the 77 career games he has played in. Despite a 31-40 overall record, Campbell has completed 1,328 of 2,182 attempts (60.9 percent) for 14,682 yards and 76 touchdowns against 52 interceptions.

Campbell has started 12 or more games four times in his career, from 2007 to 2010. Three of those years, Campbell was with the Washington Redskins, and in 2010, with the Oakland Raiders.

“I'm pleased with Jason,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said after minicamp. “He has been exactly what we had hoped for from a veteran leadership standpoint and a guy that can come in and doesn't need every single rep to understand and grow. He has been in the system before so that has been really good and he has been outstanding. That group, overall, is probably one of the best groups from a chemistry standpoint that I’ve been around at quarterback. They work together. They are always talking with each other and helping each other out. There is a good vibe in that room.”

Hoyer, an undrafted free-agent signing by New England in 2009, completed 27 of 43 attempts for 286 yards and one touchdown against an interception in 13 games as a member of the Patriots.

Last season, Hoyer spent parts of the season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals after competing with the Patriots in training camp. He played in two games with the Cardinals, with one start, and completed 30 of 53 attempts for 330 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions.

“With Brian coming in late, picking things up in a short amount of time, he has a real good feel,” Chudzinski said. “He has been around as well. He has been in a number of systems so he understands what, overall, you are trying to get done. I do like the direction that the group has come. I think we have a ways to go yet, but we are on the right track.”

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