Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Browns QB battle continues
BEREA, Ohio -- Browns coach Pat Shurmur wouldn't pick his starting quarterback. So Seneca Wallace went ahead and did it for him.
Although it's only a matter of time before the job goes to rookie Brandon Weeden, Shurmur has been reluctant to say he's the starter before training camp opens. But on the final day of media availability during the Browns' offseason program, Wallace brought clarity to Cleveland's QB situation.
"I'm a realist," Wallace said. "Obviously the kid was drafted in the first round for a reason and it wasn't they drafted him to come and sit on the bench. At some point he's going to play. If it's the first week or it's the 12th week, at some point the kid is going to play."
Wallace wasn't done there.
The 10-year veteran, who sat behind Colt McCoy last season, said Tuesday that he doesn't think there's room on the roster for himself, Weeden and McCoy.
"Probably not," said Wallace. "Can any of you guys see all three of us being here?"
Wallace also made it known he and McCoy have no desire to be Cleveland's No. 3 quarterback.
"No, not really," he said. "We all know the third guy doesn't dress Sundays, and if it comes down to that decision, obviously neither one of us wants to be that third guy."
Wallace's candor was refreshing amid the endless speculation and conjecture surrounding the Browns' quarterback conundrum.
Shurmur has been unwilling to anoint Weeden as his starter despite the Browns making him the obvious choice by selecting the 28-year-old quarterback with the No. 22 overall pick in April's NFL draft. The Browns view Weeden as their franchise quarterback, the long-term answer to a problem that has dogged them for years.
Shurmur remained non-committal about his starter as the team began its final week of organized team activities before training camp in July. But as Weeden continues to progress and his repetitions with the first-team offense increase, only an injury or unexpected collapse during the exhibition season would keep him off the field for the Sept. 9 season opener against Philadelphia.
But who will back up Weeden isn't so definitive.
McCoy, who started 13 games last season before missing the final three with a severe concussion, refuses to allow himself to consider the possibility not starting. He's going to fight for as long as he can or until Shurmur announces a winner.
The prospect of being a No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback isn't something he wants to contemplate.
"I have not gone there in my mind," he said. "When I come out to practice, in my mind I'm the starter. That's the only way I look at it."
McCoy stressed that he's improving each day in practice. He's more comfortable running Cleveland's West Coast system, which was new to him last year. He's never been one to make excuses, but McCoy did point out that he's playing under his third offensive coordinator in three seasons.
McCoy is saying all the right things publicly, but he may know deep down that he may not start for the Browns again. He answered a few direct questions with the cliched "I can only control what I can control" responses and sidestepped whether he would ask for his release or to be traded if he doesn't beat out Weeden.
"That's out of my control too," he said. "In my mindset we have three more OTAs, and I want to come out here and make those the best OTAs that we've had so far. Again, it's controlling what you can control and just going out there and playing. That's what I've always done."
There's a chance the Browns could opt to keep McCoy as a backup over Wallace because he's cheaper. McCoy's base salary is $540,000 compared to Wallace's $2.4 million. Wallace, though, believes he might be more valuable because of his familiarity with Cleveland's offensive system.
"This is my 10th year. I know the ropes," he said. "I know what goes on. I'm not naive to that. I know the system well enough to compete at any time. Whatever decision is made, that's the coaches' decision. We would all love for it to be sooner than later to figure that situation out.
"But the coaches are trying their best to figure out what's going to happen. And like we've all said before, we don't know if we're all three going to stick around. We might and we might not."
To his credit, Weeden hasn't taken anything for granted. He's the presumptive winner of the competition, but the former minor league baseball player hasn't penciled his own name into the starting lineup. He may look like the starter and act like the starter, but he doesn't think he's the starter.
"I can't say that," he said. "I feel like nothing's set in stone until it's official. That's the way I'm approaching it anyway and I'm going to keep competing. And that's my mindset."
Shurmur may want to see how Weeden plays in pads or handles himself with a pass rush bearing down on him in the summer heat before naming him the starter.
Weeden can wait. As long as he keeps firing the ball on target, he's confident the job will be his.
He was asked if anything has happened during the offseason program to shake his belief that he will be the Browns' starter.
"Not yet," he said, reaching down and knocking twice on the side of the wooden podium.
He's not taking any chances.