BEREA: The last time Browns rookie Brandon Weeden faced fellow quarterback Andrew Luck, he emerged from a shootout victorious.
“I hope it’s the same outcome,” Weeden said. “He’s a great player. We’ll see.”
In January, Weeden threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns to carry Oklahoma State to a 41-38 overtime win over Luck and Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.
“It was probably the most pressure-packed game I had ever played in until I got here,” Weeden said. “The thing I remember about it is how close it was back and forth. … What it did for the state of Oklahoma, what it did for us and kind of the legacy we left behind, it’s something people at Oklahoma State are going to talk about for a long time.”
Weeden went on to become the 22nd pick in April’s draft. Luck, who threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns in the bowl game, was chosen first overall. The two first-round selections will reunite Sunday when the Browns (1-5) visit the Indianapolis Colts (2-3).
“I know Andrew pretty well,” Weeden said. “Great guy. He’s obviously the first pick. I think he has a chance to be a special guy and quarterback in this league.”
Weeden realizes his rematch with Luck is a hot storyline for the media, but he insists he won’t get caught up in the hype. He simply wants to help the Browns establish a two-game winning streak after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 34-24 this past weekend.
“[It’s] not necessarily if he throws for 300, I have to throw for 301,” Weeden said. “That’s not what we’re worried about. It’s all about the end of the game seeing that W, that L. That’s my mind frame.”
Weeden has a lot in common with Luck. But Weeden doesn’t have to deal with the pressure of being the No. 1 pick and replacing legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, who’s now with the Denver Broncos.
“We’re both young teams that are still trying to find our way,” Weeden said. “He’s still trying to figure out this league just like I am. There’s a lot of similarities there, but he’s got some pretty big shoes he’s having to fill. I think he’s worried more about that than having to face me. I’m just a peon compared to what he’s having to deal with.”
Luck, however, doesn’t think there’s anything insignificant about Weeden.
“I think he’s a great quarterback,” Luck said during a conference call. “I think he throws an unbelievable ball. He’s proven that he’s a winner, and he’s got great, great mental attributes. I don’t want to compare any quarterback because you’re always devaluing someone along the line, but I hold him in the highest regards.”
Colts interim coach Bruce Arians, who served as the Browns offensive coordinator from 2001-03, considered Weeden a top-three quarterback in this year’s draft. Weeden was taken after Luck, Robert Griffin III (No. 2 overall, Washington Redskins) and Ryan Tannehill (No. 8 overall, Miami Dolphins)
“He’s getting better every week,” Arians said. “As he understands and sees the different nuances of different defenses, I think he’s going to be an outstanding player. I liked him coming out and thought he was one of the top three guys, and he looks like he’s becoming one.”
Weeden hopes to show more promise Sunday.
Running backs ready
Coach Pat Shurmur said he believes rookie running back Trent Richardson will play Sunday. Richardson is listed as questionable on the team’s injury report.
Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, suffered a rib cartilage injury when he absorbed a blow from a helmet against the Bengals. He said he’ll be ready to play Sunday and a coach’s decision is the only thing that could prevent him from facing the Colts. He plans to wear a flak jacket.
“He practiced all the way through practice,” Shurmur said Friday. “Yeah, I think he’ll be there.”
When asked whether pain will be the biggest hurdle for Richardson, Shurmur said, “I think when he gets in there and gets rolling, a lot of things that tend to hurt until the adrenaline flows kind of go away. He’s cleared to play and my assumption is that he’ll be there Sunday.”
If Richardson’s workload is reduced because of the injury, backup Montario Hardesty would receive more playing time. He had 15 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals.
“In the NFL, you don’t know when [an opportunity is] going to come because you’re always one play away,” Hardesty said. “So [I’m] just making sure I’m ready and ready to go in.”
The Browns ruled out strongside linebacker Scott Fujita with a shoulder/neck injury, so rookie James-Michael Johnson will start for the second consecutive week. Johnson, who missed the first four games this season with a ribs/oblique injury, had two tackles and played 21-of-71 snaps (30 percent) while Fujita sat out against the Bengals.
Fujita watched practice on the field Friday. Shurmur declined to comment on reports that Fujita’s injury could be career threatening.
Regardless, Johnson said he believes he’s capable of becoming a long-term starter.
When a reporter told him the Browns are 1-0 with him in the starting lineup, Johnson said, “My mom said the same thing. She was like, ‘They should play you all the time.’ I was like, ‘You know what? I’m trying to get them to do that.’ ”
Drop the drops
Fullback Owen Marecic has dropped four passes and caught none this season.
“It’s kind of frustrating I haven’t had the results we all want,” Marecic said. “When it comes down to it, just catch the ball.”
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress said the coaches don’t need to continue to harp on the importance of catching the ball because Marecic already knows it.
“I think it can be paralysis by analysis sometimes,” Childress said. “He’s a very mindful kid. He’s a great person and he wants to do well so much that it doesn’t do any good to stick his head in a vice and give him one more crank I don’t think.”
Cornerback Buster Skrine will cover Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne when he goes into the slot. Wayne, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, has tallied 41 catches for 593 yards this season, the most he’s ever had through five games.
Cornerback Joe Haden is confident Skrine will hold his own.
“We had Buster in the slot last week and [Bengals receiver Andrew Hawkins] didn’t do anything,” Haden said. “Buster, he’s a hell of a player. Buster’s so quick and fast and strong. He can just get his hands on them. I think that’s where his strength is — it’s definitely in the slot.”
Dimitri Patterson, the Browns’ top nickel corner, has been ruled out for the second consecutive week with a sprained left ankle.
Colts running back Delone Carter, a Copley High School graduate, returned from a broken rib a couple of weeks ago and will face the Browns in his third game of the season. He had four carries for 13 yards Sunday in the Colts’ 35-9 loss to the New York Jets.
“I’m still anxious to see him,” Arians said. “I think he’s got a great future as a running back.”
Said Luck: “Hard-nosed runner, really powerful and strong, hard worker, good guy, good teammate to be around.”
Wide receivers Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) and Travis Benjamin (hamstring), defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (calf) and safety Tashaun Gipson (knee) are questionable.
Massaquoi said he’s feeling better, but he still might miss his fourth consecutive game.
“We’ll see,” Massaquoi said when asked if he’ll play Sunday. “If not this week, then I’ll be really eager and excited to get back out there next week and make up for lost time.”
Benjamin and Rubin expect to play.
Weeden (foot), linebacker Tank Carder (foot), wide receivers Josh Gordon (knee) and Greg Little (illness), defensive end Frostee Rucker (shoulder), special teamer Ray Ventrone (hand/calf), strong safety T.J. Ward (hand) and long snapper Christian Yount (shoulder) are probable. Little returned to practice Friday after sitting out Thursday with the flu.
The Colts ruled out running back Donald Brown (knee), cornerback Darius Butler (shoulder), linebacker Robert Mathis (knee), defensive ends Fili Moala (knee) and Cory Redding (knee) and nose tackle Martin Tevaseu (ankle).