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Browns coach Pat Shurmur: Brandon Weeden 'headed in the right direction' toward becoming starting QB

By Nate Ulrich Published: May 14, 2012

Browns coach Pat Shurmur spoke this afternoon in front of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club in Canton. Here are some highlights:

Looking like a starting quarterback

Before rookie minicamp this past weekend, Shurmur said rookie Brandon Weeden must earn the starting quarterback job. But as Shurmur reflected on the recent minicamp while speaking to reporters following his speaking engagement, he said Weeden is making a strong case for himself in his pursuit of the starting job.

“There’s no question I think he’s headed in the right direction,” Shurmur said. “He showed us in the first minicamp that he can throw the ball in this league, and now we’ll get a chance to see him interact with the team, the full squad, and see how he does.”

Shurmur stopped short of revealing whether Weeden would take snaps with the first-team offense May 22 when organized team activities begin. But it certainly seems like a safe bet that Weeden will.

“I’ll hold onto that till we talk about that [as a team and as a coaching staff],” Shurmur said. “But he’s gonna be able to compete with those guys to be the starter. So how we choose to do that really is a method, and we’ll just see how it works.”

Shurmur was much more direct in his praise of Weeden’s performance during rookie minicamp.

“I think he’s extremely accurate,” he said. “His strong arm really showed up in this minicamp. There’s something natural about his play. He hadn’t really thrown to these receivers before and to be able to throw somewhat precise routes and be very accurate, that was good to see.

“He throws a very, very -- wow -- it’s a pretty ball. It’s easy for the receivers to catch, and some of the guys he was working with for the first time really performed extremely well because there’s synergy there when you get good quarterback play.”

Quarterback situation

A member of the audience asked Shurmur to compare Colt McCoy and Weeden.

“Colt McCoy is a gritty guy,” Shurmur said. “I think Colt McCoy is a fine football player and can play quarterback in this league. We think Brandon Weeden can do the same thing. Obviously one guy’s a little bit taller than the other. … They’re both guys that I want on this team and I want to see them compete. The best one will play when we play Philadelphia in September.”

So what will happen to Seneca Wallace?

“I think there’s a case to be made that Seneca, Colt and Brandon are all [on the roster] together,” Shurmur said. “We’ll see. I think that’s yet to be determined. But we’re gonna just watch them all compete and interact, and we’ll see what happens.”

Reliable running back

Shurmur touted running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, as a key piece to the team’s future.

“Trent Richardson is 5-9 ½, but he is a full-grown man,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s gonna be a tremendous player here for a very long time. He’s a quarterback’s best friend. When things get a little dicey, you just turn around and hand it to him, and I really believe he’s gonna be a big part of what we do.

“We could tell from the meeting room interaction to the field that he learns extremely well. All that’s in his favor, and I think this weekend helped him.”

New back in mix

Shurmur said the Browns have signed Toledo running back Adonis Thomas, who spent rookie minicamp with the team on a tryout basis.

“He actually came in on a workout basis,” Shurmur said. “It was just a weekend tryout, and [he] impressed us enough where we signed him to our 90-man roster. So he’ll be coming to training camp with us. He did a terrific job and we feel like he’s got a chance to contribute.”

Shurmur said Adonis filled the vacancy left on the roster by Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat, who signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent but decided not to pursue an NFL career.

Phil Taylor update

Shurmur said defensive tackle Phil Taylor will have surgery Wednesday to repair the left pectoral muscle he tore while lifting weights last week.

Third-round pick John Hughes is a candidate to replace Taylor in the starting lineup.

“Unfortunately with what happened to Phil Taylor, John’s gonna have to step it up and be a quicker part of what we do,” Shurmur said. … “We’re not gonna plug him in. He’s gonna have to get in there and compete with the other defensive tackles to win that spot. If he ends up being the guy, he’s obviously not as big as Phil. But I really believe he can create pass rush inside and play well against the run.”

There’s also a chance the Browns could acquire a veteran defensive lineman.

“We’ll continue to look at a veteran really at any position,” he said. “And we’ll know about how it all fits once we can get into the OTAs, and they’re all out there working together.”

Golden opportunity

Rookie linebackers James-Michael Johnson, a fourth-round pick, and Emmanuel Acho, a sixth-round selection, could receive a chance to crack the starting lineup right away if starting strongside linebacker Scott Fujita’s three-game suspension is upheld. The NFL punished Fujita for his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal. Fujita has denied involvement and reserved the right to appeal the suspension.

“I do think they did some things in the rookie minicamp that would make you say these guys got a chance,” Shurmur said of Johnson and Acho. … “I wouldn’t say one’s ahead of the other right now.”

Time to step up

This could be a make-or-break year for Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, who was plagued by injuries and didn’t produce much last season.

“It’s time for him to show us what we know he can do,” Shurmur said. “I think last year he was hampered by injury, which can be tough for a receiver. What I’ve seen thus far in the offseason, it looks like he’s gonna be ready to go.”

Reunion in cards?

Shurmur was asked if the Browns will re-sign left guard Eric Steinbach, who was cut in March after he missed last season with a back injury that required surgery. The Browns and Steinbach couldn’t agree on a restructured contract, leading to his release.

“There’s a chance [he could be brought back],” Shurmur said. “I know he’s out in that free-agent world right now trying to find a home. I don’t know the specifics right now, but I have a strong appreciation for Eric and what he did prior to being here last year. Unfortunately last year, he sustained his injury. So maybe. I couldn’t say yes at this point.”

Tight ends ready

Benjamin Watson suffered three concussions last year and ended the season on injured reserve, but Shurmur said Watson is poised to come back.

“He’s fine,” Shurmur said. “He looks great. He’s ready to go.”

Shurmur expects a significant jump in production from Jordan Cameron, who appeared in eight games last season as a rookie.

“The guy that looks way different is Jordan Cameron,” Shurmur said. “Oh, gosh -- the size -- and he’s had a great offseason. He’s a guy that hadn’t played much football, so I think he’ll make a big improvement this year.”

Uniform change

Shurmur indicated the Browns will wear brown jerseys for at least some of their home games this year. Last season, they wore white jerseys and white pants at home.

“Yeah, there’s a chance we can wear the brown [jerseys] this year,” he said.

Lots of laughs

Shurmur always seems to let loose at this event, showing the luncheon club his sense of humor for the second year in a row. He got big laughs from the following jokes:

  • On returning to the luncheon club: “I feel like coming back the second year I’m a little bit more like you guys. I’m a little balder, a lot grayer. Being the coach of the Browns will do that to ya.”
  • On the 28-year-old Weeden’s age: “I think he’s older than me. I know he’s more mature than me for sure.”
  • On being the last speaker of the luncheon club’s season: “It’s tough to stand here as the last guy. I’m sure you’ve heard some real funny guys, and you’ve probably been inspired and all that stuff. Well, sorry. They didn’t even feed me [lunch].”
  • On why the team won’t put the Brownie Elf on its uniforms: “That’s way above my pay grade. I’ll take that under advisement. [Vice president of media relations] Neal [Gulkis] tries to prepare me for all questions. That’s from the warning track in left field right there.”
  • On the increase in media coverage over the years: “If there was NFL Network when I was in college, I would have flunked out. I mean Euchre kept me grades down.”
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