By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Armed with a new playbook, improved fundamentals and a season of NFL experience, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden will enter training camp with some swagger.
“I feel like a completely different player,” Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft, said Monday at the team’s headquarters. “It’s knowing what to expect. I didn’t know anyone in the locker room [last year]. I didn’t know the routine. There are just so many unknowns. Now I’ve been in it for a year, and I know how the weekly routine goes, and I’ve got myself into a routine.
“I’m going to go out there with confidence. I’m not going to be timid. I’m going to go out there and play hard and leave it on the line and take the chances I did and always have. [I’m going to] throw the ball and throw the ball in tight windows and trust my arm. It’s hard to play this position when you are aiming throws and second-guessing throws. You have to play aggressive and be aggressive at all times.”
Weeden reported to camp Friday, along with rookies and some other veterans, and has been working on the field since Saturday. The Browns will hold their first full-squad practice of camp from 4-6:30 p.m. Thursday, and it’ll be open to the public.
Although Browns coach Rob Chudzinski listed quarterback as an unsettled position Monday, Weeden clearly is on track to secure the top spot on the depth chart for the second consecutive season.
Weeden will continue to take the reps with the first-team offense like he did in spring practices, Chudzinski said. Jason Campbell will work with the second unit, and Brian Hoyer will receive third-team reps.
Weeden believes he’ll capitalize on his new opportunity in the vertical, downfield passing game Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner want to feature partly because of the work he has done this offseason. Weeden has shown better footwork this summer and displayed “big improvement” as a leader, Chudzinski said.
A couple of weeks ago, Weeden spent a few days building chemistry and working out with Browns receivers Greg Little and Josh Cooper in Oklahoma.
“We got three really hard days of work in,” Weeden said. “I threw until I couldn’t throw anymore, and [Little] ran until he couldn’t run anymore.”
Now Chudzinski said he’s eager to see how Weeden responds when the defense plays faster and the competition intensifies during camp.
Happy to report
Browns rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, was relieved to sign his rookie contract Sunday and join the team at practice.
“A weight’s been lifted,” Mingo said Monday. “I know I need to be here in camp. I need to get ready for the season. Just being here on time is going to help me do that.”
The 6-foot-4 Mingo had consistently weighed in at 237 pounds since the Browns drafted him April 25, but he planned to come to camp at about 240 pounds.
“I’m pleased with where I’m at,” said Mingo, who declined to reveal his weight Monday. “The coaches aren’t concerned. I’m bigger than what I was when I got here, and I’m not trying to stop right there, just keep on going and our strength coaches have been doing a great job. So I’m getting stronger, getting bigger, but I’m keeping my quickness, and I think that’s the best way to go about that.”
Chudzinski said wide receiver David Nelson and undrafted rookie offensive tackle Chris Faulk will start training camp on the active physically unable-to-perform list. They can be brought off the list at anytime.
As a member of the Buffalo Bills, Nelson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the 2012 season opener, underwent knee surgery and missed virtually the entire season. His knee buckled Monday as he ran routes after practice in the Browns’ fieldhouse, but he shook it off and continued the workout.
Faulk suffered torn medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee during practice four days after Louisiana State University’s 2012 season opener. Like Nelson, he worked out in the field house Monday after practice.
Rookie free safety Jamoris Slaughter, a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft, has been practicing, Chudzinski said. As a senior with the University of Notre Dame, Slaughter suffered a torn Achilles tendon Sept. 15.
Chudzinski said the first padded practice of camp will be held Saturday. “We’ll rarely be full-speed tackle to the ground, but it’ll be full speed,” Chudzinski said. “You’ll see contact.” … Chudzinski said, during camp, players’ workdays begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 9:30 p.m. with a break in the afternoon. The team will have weightlifting sessions in the morning, followed by morning meetings, morning walk-through practices, afternoon meetings, evening practices and night meetings.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. 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.