By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden threw a football Friday morning for the first time since he sprained his right thumb Sept. 15 in a 14-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. It represented a significant step for Weeden as he attempts to bounce back from the injury and reclaim his starting job.
However, nothing has been guaranteed.
“Don’t get hurt,” Weeden said. “I don’t know how else to put it. Injuries suck. They happen. Things happen for a reason, and we’ll see how it plays out.”
With Weeden ruled out for the second consecutive game, quarterback Brian Hoyer will start Sunday when the Browns (1-2) host the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1). Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has said he wants to keep his options open at the position, even when Weeden is healthy.
“That’s out of my control,” Weeden said when asked if he expects to get his starting job back. “My focus is making sure this thumb continues to make the steps that allow me to get back and be 100 percent. There’s no reason to rush back and get to where I’m not completely healthy. So my main goal is getting healthy and whenever I am, then I’ll sit down with Chud and we’ll go from there.”
Last week, Chudzinski said he discussed how he’s approaching the quarterback situation with Weeden and that he understood. But Weeden said Chudzinski hasn’t given him an explanation about his plans for the position.
“We really haven’t talked about it,” Weeden said. “My main focus, our main focus, is me getting healthy, and once I get healthy, then we can cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Hoyer capped an 11-play, 55-yard drive by throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Cameron with 51 seconds remaining that lifted the Browns to a 31-27 win Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings (0-3). Hoyer had wide receiver Josh Gordon at his disposal, and he caught a career-high 10 passes for 146 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown.
Gordon served a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy to begin the regular season, so Weeden has yet to play with the team’s top receiver. He wasn’t shy about pointing it out, either.
“Brian played well,” Weeden said. “He played really well. He took advantage of the opportunities that are in front of them. I think as a whole, offensively, I thought we played really good. I thought we played really well. Obviously, having Josh back, it was nice for Brian. That’s a big weapon for him. But I thought he played real well.
“It’s nice seeing Josh out there, first of all. It’s nice having him as an offensive weapon. He’s just a huge asset for this offense and the passing game. So, yeah, it’s nice being out there with [No.] 12. Other guys made plays. Jordan Cameron had a huge game. We played well offensively, did a lot of really good things.”
Weeden threw a baseball and a softball Thursday before tossing a football about 40 times Friday. He said he was able to grip the ball without pain.
“It felt great, felt good,” Weeden said. “Everything has been above and beyond what I was hoping, and it’s getting there. It’s definitely ahead of the curve.
“[Cleveland Clinic hand specialist] Dr. [Thomas] Graham, [Browns head athletic trainer] Joe [Sheehan], all the training staff have done an unbelievable job. It was a legit injury, and I healed faster than maybe they originally thought that I [would].”
Weeden did not don the black brace Friday that he had been using since he suffered the injury when he smacked his throwing hand against left guard John Greco’s helmet in the fourth quarter against the Ravens. Weeden, though, still wears the brace at night.
“I think the worst part is, you go out in public and people want to shake your hand,” Weeden said. “That’s probably the most painful thing. So if I ever go see a movie or something, I definitely wear [the brace] there. But [I wear it] just really to keep from banging it. It’s been in a brace for 10 days now, so it’s healed, and I just want to keep progressing and getting better.”
Still, Weeden insisted he doesn’t know when he’ll be back. He hasn’t practiced the past two weeks.
“I’m still playing it day by day,” Weeden said. “[I’ll] test this thing and keep pushing it and whenever Chud and the staff is ready for me to go, I’ll be ready to go.”
Until then, Weeden won’t be comfortable remaining idle.
“It’s terrible,” Weeden said. “I’ve never done it before. I felt like a duck out of water on the sidelines the other day. In pregame warm-up, it was a unique feeling. I’ve never felt it, honestly, ever in any sport. It’s frustrating. As a competitive guy and a guy that wants to be out there and even though the points and all those things we were getting into a rhythm offensively and go on the road, it sucks. It’s not how you draw it up just because as a competitor, I want to be out there.”
Weeden should be out there again. But it remains to be seen whether he’ll be out there as a starter or as a backup.
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.