By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Browns coach Rob Chudzinski isn’t ready to commit to Jason Campbell or Brian Hoyer as the team’s starting quarterback for Week 3, even though Brandon Weeden will likely be sidelined Sunday with a sprained right thumb against the host Minnesota Vikings.
Weeden underwent an MRI on his thumb Monday after suffering the injury Sunday in the fourth quarter of the Browns’ 14-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, a team spokesman confirmed. X-rays on the thumb were negative, Chudzinski said.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Chudzinski ruled out Weeden against the Vikings in one of the next few days. But that hasn’t happened yet because the Browns want to see how Weeden responds to treatment.
On other hand, it is a bit surprising Chudzinski wouldn’t publicly 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 new regime signed Campbell and Hoyer in the offseason. Campbell has taken the majority of the second-team reps since the spring, but Hoyer has received some as well. When Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi worked as an analyst for NFL Network in 2011, he said Hoyer was a starting-caliber quarterback.
“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. “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, through a team spokesman, said WTAM (1100-AM) talk show host Mike Trivisonno’s report that Weeden could be out for most of the season and possibly the rest of it is “untrue.”
“I received a phone call from a very good source saying Brandon Weeden could be out for a long, long, long time, possibly could be out for the entire season,” Trivisonno said on the air a few hours after Chudzinski’s news conference Monday afternoon. “His thumb is really screwed up.”
Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft, suffered the injury when he smacked his throwing hand against a helmet in the fourth quarter. Weeden, 29, remained in the game for one more play, the Browns punted and Campbell replaced him when their next possession began with 3:34 remaining.
“It was tough to put pressure on the ball,” Weeden said Sunday after the game while wearing a black brace on his right hand. “It hurts. Doesn’t feel too good.”
Campbell completed 1-of-4 passes for 6 yards.
The Browns (0-2) have score just one touchdown and converted 5-of-29 third downs (17.2 percent) in their first two games. Weeden, meanwhile, has taken a pounding, absorbing 28 quarterback hits, including 11 sacks.
Campbell, 31, isn’t sure whether he’ll receive a chance to help the offense bounce back against the Vikings (0-2). Campbell has a career record of 31-40 as a starter, though he hasn’t been a full-time No. 1 quarterback since he was with the Oakland Raiders in 2011.
Campbell was asked if he’s frustrated that Chudzinski wouldn’t commit to him even though he is listed as Weeden’s primary backup.
“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, and that’s how I approach it. There’s things that you can’t control, things that you can. In these situations, you be supportive as much as possible. We don’t know what’s the status of Weeden yet. Also, I don’t know the status of my own position just yet. So the only thing I can do is just keep preparing and just trying to stay focused as best as possible and not worry about those things.”
Hoyer made his lone NFL start this past season for the Arizona Cardinals, completing 19-of-34 passes (55.9 percent) for 225 yards and one touchdown with an interception during their 27-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17. Hoyer, who’s in his fifth NFL season, spent three years backing up New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Hoyer, 27, was caught off guard when reporters told him that Chudzinski is considering him to replace Weeden in the third game.
“I haven’t even talked to Chud yet,” said Hoyer, a St. Ignatius High School graduate. “You guys come in here and tell me that, but nothing’s been told to me. I prepare every week the same way. I’m going to prepare the same way this week. In this league, you never know what could happen and that’s just kind of what you’ve got to prepare for and go from there.”
Hoyer has confidence that he’s 100 percent ready to step in.
“I shouldn’t be here if I didn’t feel that way,” Hoyer said. “So I’ve had experience of being a guy who you never know when your name’s going to get called and you can get thrown in there at a moment’s notice, and that way, it’s taught me to prepare like you are the one that’s going to be playing the whole game.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.