As expected, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden took the reps with the first-team offense today during the third session of organized team activities and the first one open to the media.
Weeden, though, isn’t taking anything for granted. He’s confident he can retain his starting job, but he knows the new regime signed Jason Campbell to push him.
Weeden said he has spent a “crazy” amount of time studying the new playbook with help from his wife, Melanie. He hopes coach Rob Chudzinski and his staff notice all the hard work and view him as the starter.
“I hope they see not only what I'm doing out here, but the way I'm handling myself and working and spending time studying and doing all of those things,” said Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft. “This means a lot to me. This is my job. I take it seriously. I want to be the guy. I want to build off of last year. I think we're going to be a better football team in a lot of ways, and I want to be a part of it and prove to them that I am that guy to make this team better.”
Weeden is carrying himself as if he’ll be the starter in Week 1.
“I'm approaching it that way,” he said. “I'm approaching it that I'm going to take the next step and be that guy. And if I were to do it any other way, I would be doing a disservice to myself and also this team.”
Weeden, 29, said Campbell, 31, is bringing out the best in him.
“Absolutely, yeah, because he's playing well and he's doing a lot of good things,” Weeden said. “He's been in this offense, so he kind of knows a little bit of the ins and outs, so I can kind of ask him questions and we can help each other. But he's throwing the ball good and he's pushing me and that's the way it should be.”
Weeden is convinced he can make significant progress from last season, when he threw 14 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions as a rookie. He believes improvement from wide receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little along with the addition of slot receiver Davone Bess will help him.
Weeden also thinks the downfield, vertical passing game installed by Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner fits him better than ex-Browns coach Pat Shurmur’s West Coast system.
“As far as an offense, even though we’re in day three now versus day three last year, I’m way ahead of the curve -- just because this offense kind of makes more sense to start with,” Weeden said. “There is a lot more up front as far as formations and stuff. But once you get it, you can hear a play and kind of piece it together by the verbiage.”
Weeden said the new scheme reminds of him the offense he ran at Oklahoma State University.
“A lot of stuff,” Weeden said. “Not only tempo. Some of the route combinations, obviously being in the shotgun a little more – even some of the single routes. We were able to have success there and throw for a lot of yards and a lot of completions. Hopefully we’ll keep that going.”
Weeden is aiming to drop back faster and break his bad habit of patting the ball with his left hand before throwing it. He said he’s improving in both areas.
“Good on both,” Weeden said. “I don't think I've patted in three days.”
Weeden entered OTAs penciled in as the Browns’ starting quarterback after the organization stood pat at quarterback in last month’s draft despite rampant speculation they would select West Virginia’s Geno Smith.
“I didn’t really read into it one way or the other,” Weeden said. “I wasn’t really concerned with it one way or the other. I was up here the days before the draft and the days after preparing just like I have every other day. That’s the way I was all along. I was telling someone the other day, ‘I’ve been drafted twice [once in baseball, once in football].’ You never know what’s going to happen in the draft. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket. I wasn’t concerned about it. That was probably my least concern. I was worried about this team getting better and getting back to work.
“I don't listen to it. No one is pushing me. I don't listen to it. No one has come up to me and said anything. I don't listen to it and it's not really my concern. I'm here now and my concern now is going and watching the film today and getting better. If I worried about all that other stuff, there is no way I could function.”
Here is the first-team offense the Browns used today: quarterback Weeden, running back Trent Richardson, wide receivers Gordon and Little, tight ends Jordan Cameron and Kellen Davis, left tackle Joe Thomas, left guard Shawn Lauvao, center Alex Mack, right guard John Greco and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.
When the Browns used two running backs, Chris Ogbonnaya joined Richardson in the backfield. When they used only one tight end, Cameron was on the field.
Here is the first-team defense the Browns used today: left end Ahtyba Rubin, nose tackle Phil Taylor, right end Desmond Bryant, left outside linebacker Paul Kruger, inside linebackers D’Qwell Jackson and Craig Roberton, right outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard, cornerbacks Joe Haden and Buster Skrine, strong safety T.J. Ward and free safety Tashaun Gipson.
Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year's draft, worked at right outside linebacker with the second-team defense.
Lauvao spent the first three years of his career at right guard, but he practiced on the left side today. Meanwhile, Greco moved from left guard, the position he played last season, to right guard.
Johnson Bademosi moved from cornerback to free safety. He worked with the second-team defense.
Left guard Jason Pinkston practiced this week for the first time since he was sidelined Oct. 14 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Doctors discovered a blood clot in Pinkston’s lung, and his 2012 season was cut short. He was cleared to return on April 12, the same day his first child, Martha Jane, was born.
Pinkston, a starter for the first 22 games of his career until his blood disorder sidelined him, worked with the second-team offense today.
Free safety Jamoris Slaughter (Achilles’ tendon), offensive tackle Chris Faulk (knee) and wide receiver Cordell Roberson (unknown) did not practice today. They did light exercises on the sidelines. Wide receiver David Nelson (knee) also sat out as he continues to rehabilitate, though he was not on the field.
Cornerback Leon McFadden, a third-round pick in this year’s draft, missed practice because he’s still in school at San Diego State University. Wide receiver Keenan Davis, running back Robbie Rouse and tight end Travis Tannahill were also absent because of school.