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Browns won’t hand starting quarterback job to Weeden, but Heckert says 'we expect him to be the guy'

By Nate Ulrich Published: May 9, 2012

Cleveland Browns first round pick quarterback Brandon Weeden, left, poses with general manager Tom Heckert at the NFL football team's headquarters in Berea, Ohio Friday, April 27, 2012. Weeden was taken with the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Photo: Mark Duncan / AP

The Browns’ decision makers have repeatedly said they won’t hand the starting quarterback job to anyone, but they certainly expect Brandon Weeden to fill the role as a rookie.

After all, they wouldn’t draft a 28-year-old quarterback in the first round (22nd overall) unless they believed he would provide an instant upgrade.

Still, Browns General Manager Tom Heckert and President Mike Holmgren want affirmation from Weeden. They have expressed their feelings about the team’s quarterback situation while making the rounds this week on national and local sports talk shows.

So will Weeden be installed as the starting quarterback right away?

“Yeah, that’s the overall view,” Heckert said today during an interview with Pro Football Talk Live. “That’s what we think he’s gonna be. We took him there, so we expect him to be the guy. Now if it doesn’t work out that way right away, we’re not gonna throw him out there just because we took him at 22. We’re not in this thing to look good in our draft picks and all that stuff. We want to win football games, so we’re gonna play the best guy. But obviously when we took him at 22, we expect him to be the guy.”

When asked if Colt McCoy could be the starting quarterback if he ends up being the best guy, Heckert said, “Yeah, I mean I think that’s the way we look at it in all positions. It’s the same thing to a lesser extent with Trent [Richardson]. If Trent is not the guy, we would play the best guy. But our feelings going in [are] that those two guys [Richardson and Weeden] are gonna be hopefully what we thought they were and be the guys.”

In an interview today with ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, Holmgren reiterated what he said Tuesday during two interviews with local radio stations: Weeden must earn the starting job.

“I told Weeden, I've never had a player that we were gonna draft, as a coach or now in my current role, sit in my office prior to the draft and say, 'OK, If we pick you, you're the starter,'" Holmgren said. "I've never said that. I don't think it's the right thing to say ‘cause if they don’t become the starter, then they feel you've lied to them and been dishonest, so I'm not gonna do that.

“But they're gonna compete. Because of [Weeden’s] age, you kind of think 'OK, he can't sit and watch for two or three years. That doesn't make any sense.’ But he's gotta prove it. He has to prove it like every other player we have, and that's how we're approaching it. And then what happens down the road on a trade or who we go to camp with, that’ll play out, I think. We're not forcing that at all.”

Holmgren’s reference to a potential trade suggests the Browns have not ruled out the possibility of eventually dealing McCoy. But for now, they’re going to publicly pitch a “wait and see” approach when it comes to their quarterbacks.

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