Quarterback Brandon Weeden took the reps with the first-team offense today as the Browns opened their voluntary minicamp, coach Rob Chudzinski said this evening after practice.
Weeden is now looking to take charge.
“Now that it’s my second year, it’s my job to take control, be the guy, be the leader, be the leader on offense, be the leader in the locker room,” Weeden said. “I lead by example, but there’s a comfort level there now that maybe wasn’t there last year just because I was still learning.”
Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft, is penciled in as the starting quarterback, but veteran Jason Campbell was signed this offseason to push him.
Chudzinski said Campbell, who has a career record of 31-40 as a starter, also will receive some reps with the first-team offense during future practices. Campbell took second-team reps today, and third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis followed.
“The guy has been very successful in the game of football for a long time,” Weeden said. “I want to compete. I want to push each other, make each other better and I think it’s better for everybody involved.”
Despite CEO Joe Banner repeatedly insisting Weeden, 29, will receive every chance to succeed and that he doesn’t expect the Browns to pick a quarterback in the first round April 25, there is still plenty of speculation the Browns will draft one sixth overall.
“That’s the nature of this business,” Weeden said. “One, I’m worried about me. I’m not really worried about what’s going to go on outside of me and what I can’t control. There’s always speculation. It’s this time of the year. I’m worried about me. I can’t control the other stuff. I’m going to continue to learn this offense. I’m going to continue to get better as a player and grow from Year One to Year Two.”
Weeden believes the system Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner are installing caters to his strengths because it features a vertical, downfield passing game and more shotgun formations.
But Weeden knows he must win the new regime over.
“They’re not going to stick me out there if they don’t think I’m the guy that can win games,” Weeden said. “That’s just the way this position works. That’s the way this business works.”
Left guard Jason Pinkston and wide receiver David Nelson sat out practice today.
Pinkston’s 2012 season was cut short after doctors discovered a blood clot in his lung, but Chudzinski said team doctors have medically cleared Pinkston to return.
“Good news for Jason,” Chudzinski said. “We’ve cleared him. We’ll incrementally get him going back to where he can get on the field and start practicing again. That’ll take a little bit of time to do that.”
Nelson, who signed with the Browns on April 8, is continuing to rehabilitate from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered last season as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
“David’s rehabbing his knee right now, and we’re expecting him to be ready for training camp,” Chudzinski said.
With Pinkston and Nelson sidelined, the Browns had 65 of the 67 players on their roster practicing.
Time to talk
The Browns plan to hold a pre-draft news conference Thursday. Banner and General Manager Mike Lombardi are expected to address the media then.