The Browns began their second set of organized team activities today. Here are some highlights from practice and subsequent interviews:
Quarterback Colt McCoy took the snaps with the first-team offense last week when the Browns started their OTAs. However, rookie Brandon Weeden stepped in as the first-string quarterback this morning, taking the first snaps with the starters in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 sessions. The only exceptions were during two-minute drills, when McCoy went first, followed by Weeden and Seneca Wallace.
Although the Browns expect Weeden to win the starting job, they’re still not naming him their No. 1 quarterback yet.
“One thing I’d caution you against is looking out there and trying to decide who’s a starter and who’s a backup,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said after practice. “I think right now we’re just out there at most positions competing and trying to get better.
“I don’t think you can read into [Weeden taking the first-team reps]. I think last week Colt started all the team drills. This week -- or at least today -- and it’ll change throughout the week, we let Brandon start the drill. But they all got similar amount of reps with guys that are competing at the skill positions to be starters. So I wouldn’t read into that.”
Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, echoed Shurmur’s comments.
“I don’t think it means anything,” Weeden said.
Weeden continued to display his strong arm during practice, but he made some poor decisions. In an 11-on-11 drill, Weeden rolled to his right and didn’t put enough zip on a short pass to wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, allowing free safety Eric Hagg to swoop in for an interception. Later in a two-minute team drill, Weeden lobbed a deep pass intended for wide receiver Travis Benjamin into double coverage, and rookie cornerback Trevin Wade picked it off.
McCoy certainly did not have a great day, either. He missed receivers with a few wobbly passes and showed frustration afterward by pounding his fist against his leg and motioning to his teammates.
None of the quarterbacks commanded an impressive two-minute drill. Weeden had two attempts, and the second one ended with a missed 55-yard field goal.
Thankful for return
Defensive end Marcus Benard spoke to reporters for the first time since a motorcycle accident ended his 2011 season in October.
Benard has a long scar on the back of his right hand, which he broke as a result of the accident. Benard wouldn’t disclose his other injuries, but he expressed gratitude for getting a second chance at life and his football career.
“[I’m] blessed above anything,” Benard said. “I’m happy to be here. It was an event. It’s not something I can just shrug off or anybody else can shrug off. I’m not gonna say that it was nothing. It was definitely something. It’s a blessing. I feel like it’s a plan. I’m very happy to be here.
“It was very serious. I feel like it was a blessing. You learn your lessons. You learn more about life. You learn about yourself. Sitting out and going through what I went through, rehab and everything, you always sit back and evaluate yourself and evaluate your position in life and definitely [gain] a little bit of insight.”
Benard said he is completely recovered from the accident, weighs 260 pounds and is back in shape. He’ll fight this summer for a role as a pass rusher.
Eric Hagg continued to practice at free safety with the first-team defense while Usama Young worked with the second unit. Hagg had an interception, and during another play defensive backs coach Tim Hauck yelled, “Good job, Eric Hagg.”
Running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, the 37th overall selection, practiced with the first-team offense.
Here’s the entire first-team offense from today: Weeden (quarterback); Richardson (running back); Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi (wide receivers); Jordan Norwood (slot receiver); Benjamin Watson (tight end); Joe Thomas (left tackle); Jason Pinkston (left guard); Alex Mack (center); Shawn Lauvao (right guard); and Schwartz (right tackle).
Here’s the first-team defense from today: Jabaal Sheard and Frostee Rucker (ends); Ahtyba Rubin and Scott Paxson (tackles); D’Qwell Jackson and Chris Gocong (linebackers); Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown (cornerbacks); Dimitri Patterson (nickel corner); T.J. Ward (strong safety); and Hagg (free safety).
Little said he lost 11 pounds since the end of last season, and he feels quicker as a result. He missed his entire senior season at the University of North Carolina because of an NCAA suspension, and he concedes he added too much bulk during that time.
“When I took the year I off I was just in the gym so much that I gained so much weight physically, just not from sitting around, but just always wanting to pump iron and not running as much and just gaining muscle weight,” Little said. “That was kind of the thing I went into the combine with, I was just so jacked they were like, ‘You’ve gotta get out of the weight room.’ So I mean that was kind of one of the things that I stepped back from this year and just did more on-the-field things.”
Little said coach Pat Shurmur joked with him about looking like a good running back last season. Now Little looks more like a receiver, and he’s hoping the change pays off in his second professional season.
Defensive lineman Brian Schaefering is recovering from surgery he had this offseason to repair a sports hernia, Shurmur said. Schaefering has not practiced during OTAs, but he has been on the field watching.
“He’s looking and feeling very good,” Shurmur said. “We might be able to get something out of him here the last week of the offseason, so we’ll wait and see. But he’s doing well.”
Fullback Eddie Williams sat out practice with a stiff back, Shurmur said. Like Schaefering, Williams watched the action from the field.
Jackson participated in team drills after a stiff back kept him out of them last week.
Linebacker Scott Fujita missed practice today because he attended a hearing for the NFL Players Association’s grievance against the league stemming from the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal, Shurmur said.
As expected, kicker Phil Dawson continued to skip the voluntary OTAs. Dawson is expected to participate in the team’s mandatory minicamp next week.
Undrafted rookies Johnson Bademosi, a defensive back from Stanford, and Jeff Shugarts, an offensive lineman from Ohio State, did not attend practice because their schools are still in session.
Defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who tore his left pectoral muscle and had surgery earlier this month, continued to miss practice, too.
Offensive right tackle Oniel Cousins got involved in two brief scuffles during practice, one with linebacker Kaluka Maiava and another with defensive lineman Brian Sanford. … McCoy had consecutive passes knocked down by Sheard and Rubin. … Perhaps Weeden’s best throw of the day, a sharp pass over the middle and in traffic, hit wide receiver Carlton Mitchell in the chest and was dropped. ... Wide receiver Josh Cribbs and Haden will attend the NBA Draft lottery tonight in New York City with a contingent representing the Cavaliers.