BEREA: Colt McCoy entered training camp last year as the Browns’ starting quarterback, and he represented hope for the future of the franchise.
This year, he didn’t even speak to the media until after the fifth full-squad practice of camp wrapped up Wednesday evening.
“You guys never asked for me,” McCoy told reporters. “I missed you guys.”
Not only is rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden taking the snaps with the first-team offense and in line to be named the starter in the near future, but he also is frequently propped in front of cameras as one of the faces of the organization. McCoy used to play that role, but the spotlight has shifted since the Browns drafted Weeden 22nd overall in April.
“All I’ve been told is to come out here and compete,” McCoy said. “With that mindset that I love the game of football, I want to play. I love Cleveland and that’s what I want to do for my team — come out here and get better every day and compete. That’s all I’m doing.”
In May, McCoy said all he wanted was a fair shot at the starting job. During camp, he has worked almost exclusively with the second-team offense.
When asked whether it’s a fair competition, McCoy said: “That’s a good question for [coach] Pat [Shurmur] or [offensive coordinator Brad] Childress or somebody. For me, all I’ve been told is to compete. That’s something I would do regardless, especially in this situation. I want to go out and get myself better each day. I think we’re accomplishing that.”
McCoy and Weeden completed several touchdown passes Wednesday during red-zone drills. Free safety Usama Young intercepted a pass from McCoy in a session of seven-on-seven, but Shurmur said McCoy has shown improvement during his second year in the West Coast offense.
“Colt’s doing great,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s continuing to improve. I’m seeing him do things in this camp that he didn’t do a year ago, and he’s getting more comfortable within our system and he’s coming to work every day and working hard.
“I just think he’s more comfortable in the progressions. If it doesn’t go to No. 1 or No. 2, he’s throwing it to 3 instead of taking off and running. Those types of things — commanding the huddle, knowing what his receivers can do and where he can put the football.”
Regardless of his development, McCoy’s future has been enveloped by uncertainty. It would not be surprising if the Browns trade him at some point during the preseason.
“I can’t control anything other than coming out here and getting better,” McCoy said.
Rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon, whom the Browns drafted in the supplemental draft on July 12, made an impressive one-handed catch and another leaping grab as the receivers were working on running fade routes into the end zone. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Gordon seems to be an ideal target for such plays.
“I think the fade, you know, it can be a good play if you have a guy that is a mismatch size-wise or whatnot,” Shurmur said. “It’s something I think is important to have in your red-zone package, but from that standpoint too, they can take that away, and that’s why you have all of the other route combinations. Just by [Gordon’s] natural size, he should have the potential to be a pretty good fade runner.”
Gordon said he has used the fade route as a weapon since middle school.
“It’s a timing route, 100 percent timing,” Gordon said. “[There’s] just got to be a good relationship with the wide receiver and the quarterback. That’s why [we] practice a little bit here after practice, try to get some extra help on double moves and the fade route.”
Second-year tight end Jordan Cameron continued to shine. He caught touchdown passes from Weeden, McCoy and Seneca Wallace in red-zone drills.
Shurmur said Cameron will receive several opportunities to prove himself in preseason games.
“I think he needs to get lots of reps in the preseason games, and he will,” Shurmur said. “He’ll be a guy that can play the Y [receiver position] or the tight end position and then also the second tight end position in two-tight end sets. He’ll play quite a bit in the preseason for sure.”
Cameron has been working with the first-team offense in double-tight end sets while Evan Moore has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
Frostee Rucker, the projected starter at right defensive end, missed practice with an undisclosed injury. Shurmur said, “He won’t be out long.”
Moore, defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin (reported pelvis tear) and Phil Taylor (torn pectoral muscle), fullback Eddie Williams (undisclosed) and wide receiver Carlton Mitchell (leg) continued to sit out.
Shurmur said Moore will be back soon. He said Williams “probably won’t be out there for a while.”
With Rubin sidelined, defensive tackle Kiante Tripp took his spot with the first-team defense. Brian Schaefering filled that role in previous practices.
When asked what Tripp did to earn reps with the first unit, Shurmur said, “He maybe bought somebody lunch. I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Marcus Benard replaced Rucker at right end with the first-team defense.
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 at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.