CANTON: Browns coach Pat Shurmur says Brandon Weeden is off to a strong start in his pursuit of the team’s starting quarterback job.
The Browns’ decision makers said they drafted Weeden 22nd overall with the intent of starting him, but they have insisted he won’t be handed the reins of the offense unless he proves himself worthy in a competition. Well, Weeden certainly made a convincing case for himself last weekend during rookie minicamp.
“There’s no question I think he’s headed in the right direction,” Shurmur said Monday after he spoke to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club. “He showed us in the first minicamp that he can throw the ball in this league, and now we’ll get a chance to see him interact with the team, the full squad, and see how he does.”
The rookies were integrated with the veterans for the first time Monday morning as the Browns’ offseason conditioning program resumed. Weeden finally got a chance to work with quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace. The three are expected to continue their competition when organized team activities begin May 22.
Weeden could separate himself if he continues to dazzle.
“I think he’s extremely accurate,” Shurmur said. “His strong arm really showed up in this minicamp. There’s something natural about his play. He hadn’t really thrown to these receivers before, and to be able to throw somewhat precise routes and be very accurate, that was good to see.
“He throws a very, very — wow — it’s a pretty ball. It’s easy for the receivers to catch, and some of the guys he was working with for the first time really performed extremely well because there’s synergy there when you get good quarterback play.”
Although Shurmur gushed about Weeden, he also complimented McCoy when a member of the crowd at Tozzi’s on 12th restaurant asked for a comparison of the two.
“Colt McCoy is a gritty guy,” Shurmur said. “I think Colt McCoy is a fine football player and can play quarterback in this league. We think Brandon Weeden can do the same thing. … They’re both guys that I want on this team, and I want to see them compete. The best one will play when we play Philadelphia in September.
“I think there’s a case to be made that Seneca, Colt and Brandon are all [on the roster] together. We’ll see. I think that’s yet to be determined. But we’re going to just watch them all compete and interact, and we’ll see what happens.”
Phil Taylor update
Shurmur said defensive tackle Phil Taylor will have surgery Wednesday to repair the left pectoral muscle he tore while lifting weights last week.
Third-round pick John Hughes is a candidate to replace Taylor in the starting lineup.
“Unfortunately, with what happened to Phil Taylor, John’s going to have to step it up and be a quicker part of what we do,” Shurmur said. “ ... We’re not going to plug him in. He’s going to have to get in there and compete with the other defensive tackles to win that spot. If he ends up being the guy, he’s obviously not as big as Phil. But I really believe he can create pass rush inside and play well against the run.”
Shurmur touted running back Trent Richardson, the third overall selection in this year’s draft, as a key piece to the team’s future.
“Trent Richardson is 5-9½, but he is a full-grown man,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s going to be a tremendous player here for a very long time. He’s a quarterback’s best friend. When things get a little dicey, you just turn around and hand it to him, and I really believe he’s going to be a big part of what we do.”
The Browns signed running back Adonis Thomas, an undrafted rookie from the University of Toledo who participated in minicamp on a tryout basis, and linebacker JoJo Dickson, who spent part of training camp last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars after signing as an undrafted free agent from Idaho, the team announced Monday.
The Browns also waived running back Armond Smith and placed linebacker Andrew Sweat on the reserve/retired list. Smith appeared in three games last season for the Browns. Sweat recently signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State, but he later decided not to pursue a career in the NFL.
The Browns also announced that they signed sixth-round pick Emmanuel Acho, a linebacker from Texas. Scout.com previously reported the move.
Richardson and Weeden are the team’s only rookie draft picks who have yet to sign.
Grievances to be heard
The NFL Players Association’s grievances against the NFL in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal will be heard Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
The union argues that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t have the authority to discipline players for conduct that occurred before the collective bargaining agreement was finalized last summer and that an arbitrator, not Goodell, should decide player punishment under such circumstances and rule on appeals.
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita has received a three-game suspension for his alleged role in the scandal. He has denied involvement and reserved the right to appeal pending the grievances.
Tight end Benjamin Watson suffered three concussions last year and ended the season on injured reserve, but Shurmur said, “He looks great. He’s ready to go.”
Shurmur indicated his players will wear brown jerseys for at least some of their home games this year. “Yeah, there’s a chance we can wear the brown [jerseys] this year,” he said.
Last season, they wore white jerseys and white pants in all 16 games.