Browns Coach Not Ready To Name Starting QB
TOM WITHERS,AP Sports Writer
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Training camp is over. Apparently, the Browns’ quarterback competition isn’t.
Coach Rob Chudzinski wouldn’t commit Tuesday to naming a starting quarterback for Cleveland’s regular-season opener against Miami, saying there remains a “close” battle between Brandon Weeden — the incumbent and presumed starter — and veteran backup Jason Campbell.
Weeden has taken every snap with the starters during camp and had a strong performance in the Browns’ preseason opener last week against St. Louis. The second-year QB has made progress in Cleveland’s new offense. He has shown strides, looks comfortable and composed. Weeden has said and done everything right.
Chudzinski wants more.
“There’s a point where I will name a starting quarterback,” Chudzinski said as the Browns wrapped up their first camp under him on a day that felt like October. “I am not ready to do it yet.”
Chudzinski was asked to assess the race between Weeden and Campbell, who was signed as a free agent in March.
“I think it’s still close,” Chudzinski said. “We are finding out every game. These games are important opportunities for guys to show what they can do.”
Weeden knows he must continue to impress Cleveland’s new front office, which didn’t draft him and hand-picked Campbell, who is more familiar with the offense Cleveland has installed under new coordinator Norv Turner.
Weeden completed 10 of 13 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown against the Rams. He may need to keep posting those kinds of stats to keep his job.
The 29-year-old has little doubt that he will be the one behind center on Sept. 8, when the Browns play the Miami Dolphins.
“I’m confident that I’m going to be, but I’ve got to prove it to the other guys, the guys upstairs that I am the guy,” he said. “The only way I can do that is play well and keep continuing to get better. … It’s a competitive sport. It’s a competitive position. And it being my second year, things didn’t go as well as obviously I wanted them to last year. That means I have to show these guys that I can play and show these guys that I can be the man.
“It’s just one more obstacle I’ve got to overcome, but I’ve just got to worry about what I can control.”
Chudzinski may have already made up his mind and could be just trying to keep the pressure on Weeden, who passed for 3,385 yards last season but went just 5-10 as a starter.
As a rookie, Weeden was handed the starting job without a fight. Chudzinski is making Weeden earn it and each of his and Campbell’s passes, completions, interceptions and TDs is being weighed equally.
“There are still three or four preseason games left,” Chudzinski said. “So there is still a lot of work to be done. There is plenty of practice as well. Every day is an evaluation and we are looking at them every day. They each have done well and showed good things along the way.”
Campbell has started 71 games in the NFL, but he was limited to six starts with Oakland in 2011 because of injury and was a backup with Chicago last season.
In nine years, he’s learned the ropes and there are no givens. He wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up being the one picked by Chudzinski. It’s why Campbell is working hard every day.
“I’m just practicing my butt off trying to get better,” he said. “I don’t have any foreseeing or anything like that. I’m just happy to have the opportunity to get out here and grow and get better and just keep playing. I think the one thing coach wants to do is just keep pushing all of us and not to get complacent and not to get comfortable. When you have a competitive environment, I think it makes everyone better because that way you’re not sitting down and not just becoming settled or becoming complacent.
“You have to continue push and push and get better because we’re all still being watched.”
Chudzinski said Campbell, who is 31-40 as a starter, has done everything they’ve wanted of him.
“He had a grasp of the offense in places where it has been similar,” he said. “That familiarity has been good. In terms of leadership, you see him doing the extra things with helping receivers out, helping younger guys out and helping getting guys lined up. A lot of little things that veteran quarterbacks, a guy who is really unselfish and a team player, demonstrates.”
Weeden hasn’t wavered to this point, and if Chudzinski wants more from him, the QB is ready to give it.
“If I continue to impress and do all those things, then everything will take care of itself,” he said. “I’ve got to worry about me, and the rest will kind of follow suit.”
Chudzinski said his goal coming into camp was to choose the quarterback who gave the Browns the best chance to win. However long it takes.
“The plan is to find the right guy,” he said. “At whatever point is the right time to do that, we will name a starter.”
NOTES: RB Montario Hardesty dislocated his thumb during Monday’s workout but took part in individual drills while wearing a large, padded soft cast. Hardesty left the field without talking to reporters. … Chudzinski said the starters will play into the second quarter of Thursday’s exhibition against Detroit and “possibly all the way to half.” … Rookie K Brandon Bogotay will handle all the kicking duties against the Lions. Bogotay is competing with veteran Shayne Graham to replace Phil Dawson. “It’s a pretty tight competition, and it really it’s a day-to-day thing,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll kick Brandon Bogotay in this game, only, just Brandon. So it’ll give him an opportunity.”
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