Wednesday, July 25, 2012
QB Brandon Weeden leads Browns
BEREA, Ohio -- Brandon Weeden handed the ball off to Trent Richardson, officially signaling the start of training camp and what the Browns hope is a new era of football.
Weeden, a highly touted quarterback selected No. 22 out of Oklahoma State and Richardson, a running back chosen No. 3 overall from Alabama, are being counted on to make an immediate impact in Cleveland.
Pat Shurmur didn't instantly name Weeden the starter Wednesday on the first day of his second camp as coach. But the 28-year-old rookie with the golden arm was first in line for reps, followed by incumbent starter Colt McCoy, 10-year veteran Seneca Wallace and second-year reserve Thaddeus Lewis.
"I think it makes sense to name the starter well before the season," Shurmur said. "That's probably what will happen. When it comes to naming a quarterback, sooner is better."
And for a team eager to improve upon a 4-12 finish -- Cleveland's fourth straight season of five or fewer wins -- getting better can't come soon enough.
Weeden, for one, can't wait. One day after signing a four-year, $8.1 million contract, he said he was never in danger of being a holdout. He threw tight spirals with pinpoint accuracy and plenty of zip.
"I wanted to be here, wanted to compete," said Weeden, who said he feels much more comfortable than he did at rookie camp and organized team activities in May.
"From Day 1, my head was spinning so fast I couldn't see straight," he said. "The last OTA, I felt in complete control. I think I'm anxious, excited. There's no reason to be worried about anything."
Only rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans participated. The full squad reports Friday for similar drills and the first hard-hitting practice will be Saturday.
Weeden, a former pitcher in the New York Yankees' farm system, was among the first players on the field. He and McCoy went out together and threw the ball to one another in warmups.
"I'm looking forward to competing with all these guys to be the guy," Weeden said. "But we're all cordial in everything that we do."
A third big offseason addition drew attention, too. After watching other high-profile rookies, all ears were on what wide receiver Josh Gordon had to say.
Gordon came to Cleveland as a second-round pick in this month's supplemental draft following a checkered collegiate career. The talented, yet troubled 21-year-old was dismissed at Baylor after his sophomore season for testing positive for marijuana. He transferred to Utah and didn't play in any games last fall.
"I want to get past that," said Gordon, who vowed that he is a different person. "I have a new foundation, a new start. Just the opportunity to be out here keeps me on the right path. For them to do what they have for me, I want to reciprocate and do things for this team."
Gordon looked good catching throws from each of the four passers. Occasionally, he was pulled aside after a play by one of the coaches. Gordon said he welcomed the personalized instruction.
Richardson, two days after getting a four-year deal worth $20.5 million, spoke about what getting that much money meant to him.
"It is a blessing, a living dream and just surreal," Richardson said. "Once you get money. it is like, 'OK, what do I do with it?' You have to save, invest. After football, you still have at least 40 or 50 years to live."
But first, he is eager to get on the same page as Weeden and provide Cleveland fans with a balanced offense for the first time in years.
"As far as me and Brandon, I think there will be a learning curve," Richardson said, "but I think we are going to fit right in. Both of our programs in college were at the top."
That's where Shurmur wants to finish -- as soon as possible.
"I do feel like we're a better team than last year," he said. "A lot better. We're trying to win every game, win our division which secures a spot in the playoffs. That, of course, gives us a chance to win the biggest one.
"Regardless of how we finished, that's what we talk about."