Saturday, February 23, 2013

Browns coach won't commit to Weeden as starting QB

The Browns commitment to Brandon Weeden remains tepid (Credit: USA Today Sports Images)

February 22, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- A year ago at the NFL Scouting Combine, there was uncertainty about the Cleveland Browns quarterback.

A year later at the NFL Scouting Combine, there is uncertainty about the Cleveland Browns quarterback.

What a difference a year makes.

Yes, that was written in #sarcasmfont.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski met with the local media Friday morning and had a few more positives for incumbent Brandon Weeden, but not enough to say Weeden is his guy.

?I?ve looked at Brandon,? Chudzinski said. ?I?m excited about getting Brandon on the field and in the meetings and around the building. It?s tough when you?re just looking at tape. That?s one piece of it . Certainly he has some good tools to work with, he had some success, you saw progress last year.?

Which is a tad better than the faint praise the Browns have been given Weeden, but just a tad. If the coach sounded vague, it was because he was -- about many things other than to say there is a harmonious love affair in the front office between him, Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner.

Pressed several times about the quarterback and the constant changes that have taken place in Cleveland with the position, Chudzinski said he wants to see Weeden on the field. Never mind that ?on the field? in the short term means shorts and T-shirts.

?You can look at tape and evaluate tape but until you?re around guys, asking them to do certain things and seeing them react decides how far they can go,? Chudzinski said.

It makes sense on one level, but also indicates the Browns still want to bring in a quarterback of some sort to provide competition for Weeden, something owner Jimmy Haslam said would happen. Chudzinski said he liked Weeden?s arm -- ?He can make all the throws? -- and his poise and demeanor in the pocket.

But he still has to see him.

?Guys are going to have opportunities, and when guys have opportunities they have to make good on those opportunities and deliver,? Chudzinski said. ?That?s ultimately what you want to see as a coach, and that?s what you?re looking for.?

The Browns won?t be able to get players in the building until April 1 and they won?t get them on the field until mid-April, where Chudzinski will be allowed to have an extra minicamp.

Players can work out the two weeks in April, but can?t take part in organized football activities.

With free agency starting March 12, the Browns could have added another quarterback by April 1. Or they could not have. It?s just that vague.

Chudzinski also addressed his defensive line as it transitions from the four-three to the three-four. He minimized the upheaval the switch could cause, saying Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn all can play end or nose tackle, and he believes Jabaal Sheard can stand up as a linebacker and play down as an end in both the four-three and three-four. Chudzinski said Sheard also can drop into coverage, something he?s seldom done with the Browns.

?Obviously that?ll be something that he?ll learn and keep working on,? Chudzinski said. ?I know that there were a lot of three-four teams that were interested in him as well.?

Chudzinski touched on some other issues Browns-related.

Among them:

--The possible re-signing of free agent to be Phil Dawson: ?Phil had a great year last year. Obviously I know Phil and I have a lot of respect for Phil. I?m just not going to get into what?s going on in any of our free agent type situations.?

--Who will play outside linebacker in the new defense: ?Sheard will be one, perhaps Chris Gocong at the other if he?s recovered from his torn Achilles tear?

-- though Chudzinski didn?t even know if Gocong would be back by April 1. D?Qwell Jackson will play one of the inside linebacker spots.

--Whether he is willing to trade Weeden or McCoy: ?Again, we?re not going to get into any specifics on any of our guys, any of those type of things. We?re looking to improve our team in any areas by any means of doing that.?

--Other areas of team need: ?We do have a lot of areas we need to improve on. I?m not going to get into specifics on that.?


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