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Browns notes: Chudzinski says he’s keeping QB options open while waiting on Weeden’s status

By Nate Ulrich Published: September 16, 2013

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski isn’t ready to commit to Jason Campbell or Brian Hoyer as his Week 3 starting quarterback in the event Brandon Weeden is sidelined with a sprained right thumb Sunday on the road against the Minnesota Vikings.

WTAM (1100-AM) talk show host Mike Trivisonno reported today that Weeden could be out for most of the season and possibly for the rest of the season. But Chudzinski, through a team spokesman, said the report is untrue.

It wouldn't be surprising if Weeden is ruled out this week against the Vikings, but that hasn't happened yet.

Weeden underwent an MRI on his thumb, a team spokesman confirmed. ESPN first reported the news today.

It is a bit surprising Chudzinski wouldn’t declare Campbell his top contingency plan because he has been the No. 2 quarterback since the spring while Hoyer has been third on the depth chart. The Browns’ new regime signed Campbell and Hoyer in the offseason.

“We’re really waiting on Brandon to kind of see where he’s at and make the determination in the next few days with Brandon, and we’ll go from there,” Chudzinski said today, less than 24 hours after his team suffered a 14-6 loss to the host Baltimore Ravens. “I’m going to keep all our options open right now. Obviously we have two options, and that’s Jason and Brian both.

“I’m confident in all the guys that we have. We’ll put the guy out there that I feel like is going to give us the best chance on Sunday if it’s not Brandon.”

Chudzinski would not reveal his gut feeling about whether Weeden will be able to play when the Browns (0-2) face the Vikings (0-2).

“I think the next couple of days will give us a good indication on that,” Chudzinski said, adding he doesn’t know whether Weeden will practice Wednesday.

Weeden suffered the injury when he smacked his throwing hand against a helmet — it appeared to be left guard John Greco’s — while delivering a pass over the middle that wide receiver Greg Little dropped with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter. Chudzinski said X-rays on Weeden’s thumb were negative.

Campbell replaced Weeden with 3:34 left in the game and completed 1-of-4 passes for 6 yards. The lone completion was the result of an under-handed toss to tight end Jordan Cameron on fourth-and-10 at the Browns’ 22-yard line that clinched their loss with 3:01 remaining.

Campbell was asked if he’s frustrated that Chudzinski wouldn’t commit to him even though he is listed as the primary backup to Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft.

“We’re all on the same team,” said Campbell, who’s in his ninth NFL season. “Whatever the situation is, you have to be a pro. That’s how I approach it, and just continue to keep pushing forward and striving to help guys around me become better and at the same time just worry about trying to do my job.

“We still don’t know the extent [of Weeden’s injury], but I’m just going to prepare like I always do, that you’re going to play in the game and prepare to be a starter. We’ll find out more details as the week goes along. But I’ve been in this thing for a long time, so you’ve just got to lean on your experience in these situations.”

Hoyer, who’s in his fifth NFL season, said Chudzinski had yet to tell him he was still under consideration to start Sunday.

“You prepare every day like you’re going to be the one playing,” Hoyer said. “In this league you never know what could happen, and that’s just what you’ve got to prepare for and go from there.”

Last strike

Wide receiver Josh Gordon’s two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy has ended. Gordon was granted a roster exemption today by Commissioner Roger Goodell, so the Browns don't need to make a roster move to create room for him until Wednesday.

Gordon blamed prescription cough medicine that contained codeine for triggering a failed drug test in the offseason. Gordon, who failed three marijuana tests in college before the Browns drafted him the second round of last year’s supplemental draft, believes he’ll face a full season banishment from the league if he violates its substance-abuse policy one more time.

“I think that’s what it is,” Gordon said. “I believe so.”

Gordon knows one more strike could cost him his career.

“I feel like it’s a last-chance opportunity for the league,” Gordon said. “Nobody wants a problematic type of person in their program, in their organization because of how it perceives to be. I definitely want to stay away from any controversy as long as I can, forever. That’s definitely my No. 1 priority.”

Comeback trail

Right guard Shawn Lauvao has been running the past few days as he tries to come back from his left high-ankle sprain. Lauvao said he doesn’t know whether he’ll practice Wednesday.

“I'm battling my butt off to come back,” Lauvao said. “I will see how it feels and do what they tell me to do.”

Lauvao suffered the injury during training camp Aug. 5. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on the ankle Aug. 9 and had bone and ligaments cleaned out.

In Lauvao’s absence, Oniel Cousins has started each of the first two games at right guard. He committed four penalties in the season opener, and the offensive line has allowed 11 sacks in two games.

“It’s tough,” Lauvao said. “I want to be out there with my guys, but right now I'm just doing the best I can to support them and cheer them on.”

Feeling good

Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo was in game Sunday for 25-of-63 (35 percent) defensive snaps and 10 special-teams plays during his NFL regular-season debut.

Mingo missed the final two exhibition games and the season opener with a bruised lung he was diagnosed with Aug. 15.

“It took some time to get back in shape, but for the most part I’ve been feeling fine, no health-related problems,” Mingo said. “I’ve been running good, feeling good, breathing good.”

Mingo tallied a sack, two solo tackles, including one for a loss, and a quarterback hurry against the Ravens. He also drew two holding penalties, one on defense and another on special teams.

Scouting tidbit

Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer scouted the game Saturday between Alabama and Texas A&M, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported. Alabama won 49-42, even though Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel threw for 464 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions and ran for 98 yards.


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