Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a 12-part series in which Browns beat writer Nate Ulrich analyzes players who will vie for starting jobs or other important roles during training camp, which opens to the public today in Berea.
BATTLES OF BEREA: QUARTERBACKS
Players to watch: Jason Campbell (6-foot-5, 230 pounds, ninth year); Brian Hoyer (6-2, 215, fifth year); and Brandon Weeden (6-3, 220, second year).
2012 stats: Campbell (with Chicago Bears — six games played, including one start, 0-1 record, 32-of-51 passing, 62.7 percent, 265 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, 72.8 passer rating, seven carries for 28 yards, six sacks, two fumbles); Hoyer (with Pittsburgh Steelers — did not play; with Arizona Cardinals — two games played, including one start, 0-1 record, 30-of-53 passing, 56.6 percent, 330 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, 65.8 passer rating, one carry for 6 yards, four sacks, one fumble); Weeden (15 starts in 15 games, 5-10 record, 297-of-517 passing, 57.4 percent, 3,385 yards, 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 72.6 passer rating, 27 carries for 111 yards, 28 sacks, six fumbles).
Analysis: The starting job is Weeden’s to lose heading into camp. He took all of the first-team reps during organized team activities and minicamps, threw fewer interceptions than he did last spring as a rookie and displayed better footwork while dropping back. He also appeared to be far more comfortable in the downfield, vertical passing game installed by new coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner than the West Coast offense used by ex-Browns coach Pat Shurmur. Barring injury or an epic meltdown in the preseason, Weeden will retain his starting job and receive a one-year trial under the new regime, which will need to see significant progress from him this season because he’ll turn 30 on Oct. 14. With Weeden on track to start, the real competition is between his backups. Campbell took the majority of the reps with the second-team offense during spring practices, but Hoyer received some as well. So even though Hoyer, 27, is No. 3 on the depth chart entering camp, he’ll get a legitimate opportunity to surpass Campbell, 31. Campbell, who signed with the Browns in March, has a better arm than Hoyer. Still, Hoyer was sharp in team drills despite his late arrival. He signed with the team May 17 in the midst of OTAs. Of course, the backup quarterback job is vital, especially in Cleveland. No Browns quarterback has played a full 16-game season since Tim Couch in 2001. Weeden came close to ending the streak last season, though he missed the finale with a sprained throwing shoulder.