BEREA: As rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden watched the Browns’ Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on his iPad Tuesday night, he refused to torture himself by reliving his crucial interception.
“I fast-forwarded right through it,” Weeden said Wednesday after practice.
On third-and-5 from the Ravens’ 43-yard line, Weeden tried to connect with rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin on an out route, but cornerback Cary Williams gained position, caught the pass and ran 63 yards down for a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the third quarter. Weeden rallied and took a couple of shots at the end zone in the waning moments before the Browns fell 23-16.
Ultimately, the Browns left M&T Bank Stadium haunted by the type of backbreaking mistake Weeden has desperately tried to avoid since.
“I’m making a huge emphasis on it,” said Weeden, who will get another crack at the defending AFC North champion Ravens (5-2) when they visit the Browns (2-6) Sunday. “I had four [interceptions] in the first game, then I bounced back. I saw how important it is. You cannot turn the ball over.
“There’s just not enough opportunities to make plays to win games, so you’ve got to be smart with the football. I’m taking a lot of pride in that. They’re going to happen every once in a while because I’m an aggressive thrower. But if I can limit those, minimize those and just continue to take what they give me, I put our team in a lot better spot, and I’ve noticed that the last few weeks.”
In the past four games, Weeden completed 75-of-132 passes (57 percent) for 915 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions for a passer rating of 83.9. In the first four games, he completed 90-of-167 passes (54 percent) for 997 yards and three touchdowns with seven interceptions for a passer rating of 60.4.
Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh has noticed the progression. He believes Weeden, 29, has the talent to hang with the other quarterbacks in the division — Joe Flacco of the Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It looks like he’s really smart, he’s got a nice arm and he’s got good poise back there,” Harbaugh said during a conference call. “He’s got a really good feel for the rush and getting the ball out and those kind of things. So one of the main things for a young guy is just not turning the ball over much, and he’s done a good job with that. I’m very impressed with him. There are four really good quarterbacks in this division, and that makes it a tough division.”
Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, believes he still must prove himself.
“I don’t know if I’m there yet,” Weeden said. “I think [Harbaugh is] giving me a little too much [credit]. I’ve got to win some more games, and I need to do some better things to help this team out before I get there. But you know, from a confidence standpoint, I feel like I’m making some strides in the right direction. But for him to say that, I’m very appreciative. That’s saying a lot considering how good these other three quarterbacks are.”
Weeden has shown signs he can definitively reach that level. Limiting the moments he’d rather fast-forward through will go a long way in helping him get there.
Almost in Cleveland?
On draft day six years ago, Ravens three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata thought he’d end up with the Browns.
During a conference call Wednesday, Ngata said he was on the phone with the Browns when they traded the No. 12 overall pick to the Ravens in exchange for the No. 13 selection and a sixth-round choice (No. 181).
“I was actually on the phone with them when it was their turn to pick, and that’s when Baltimore came in and traded picks and picked me up,” Ngata said. “It was really close. I actually thought I was going to be a Brown.”
Former Browns General Manager Phil Savage then picked linebacker/defensive end Kamerion Wimbley 13th overall and defensive tackle Babatunde Oshinowo 181st overall. The Browns traded Wimbley to the Oakland Raiders in 2010 after his production in the Browns’ system dwindled following his rookie season. Oshinowo played in two NFL games before his career ended.
Does Ngata wonder how his career would have been different had the Browns drafted him in 2006?
“I think it would’ve been different,” Ngata said. “I think you guys picked Kamerion Wimbley after I got picked, and he’s been on three different teams. So I don’t know if I would’ve been on the same boat or still there, so it’s tough to call.”
Second-year cornerback Buster Skrine will serve as the Browns’ fourth captain Sunday.
“That’s a big honor because you just know that your team has a lot of respect for you and [is] seeing things that you’re doing on and off the field,” Skrine said.
Skrine broke up San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers’ final pass to seal the Browns’ 7-6 victory, but he believes his teammates selected him as a captain for reasons other than his clutch play on fourth down.
“I just think it starts way back from training in the offseason, coming in with the same attitude every day,” Skrine said. “I’m just looking to get better.”
Rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson was credited with forcing a fumble Sunday, but the statistic has been changed in favor of middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. Regardless of who forced Chargers running back Ryan Mathews to lose the ball, rookie defensive tackle Billy Winn recovered it with 41 seconds left in the first quarter.
“[Jackson] just told me, ‘Try again next year, rook,’?” Johnson said. “He pulled a seniority card on me and took it away from me. When they slowed [the replay] down, his hand was there, but I felt like when I tackled him, the ball flew forward. He might have loosened it, but I felt like my hit pushed the ball forward. So I feel like if it wasn’t for me, he would have still had the ball. It doesn’t matter, though. We still got the turnover either way.”
Dimitri Patterson, the Browns’ top nickel cornerback, graduated last week from the walking boot he had been wearing on his left leg, but he still doesn’t know when he’ll be able to begin practicing again. Patterson said he suffered the worst sprained ankle of his life Oct. 7 against the New York Giants. He has missed the past three games.
“I had a sprain like this last year during training camp and it bothered me all year,” Patterson said. “I was able to still function. I wasn’t happy with how I felt during the season last year, but I was just able to function.
“This is worse, obviously, so we’re just going to have to see. I don’t want it to turn into a chronic situation. When you’re talking about an ankle, you’ve gotta really be careful because they can be tricky, and they can turn into a chronic deal to where I’m having issues in the offseason. It’s tough.”
Patterson and starting defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (calf) were the only Browns players who did not practice Wednesday.
Jackson (foot/toe), defensive tackle John Hughes (arm), running back Trent Richardson (chest/rib), defensive end Brian Sanford (knee), special teamer Ray Ventrone (hand/calf) and strong safety T.J. Ward (hand/shoulder) were limited.
Weeden (groin/thigh), Johnson (knee/groin), special teamer Johnson Bademosi (hip), free safety Tashaun Gipson (knee), guards Shawn Lauvao (groin) and Jarrod Shaw (illness), wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), Chris Ogbonnaya (chest/ribs), defensive end Frostee Rucker (shoulder/toe) and long snapper Christian Yount (shoulder) fully participated.
New CEO Joe Banner began working at the Browns’ headquarters Wednesday, a team spokesman said. Banner’s original start date of Oct. 25 was pushed back because his father, Ralph, died that night at age 89. Banner spent several days in the Boston area with his family. … The Browns signed defensive end Hall Davis to their practice squad. Davis spent the preseason with the Oakland Raiders before being waived on Aug. 31. In 2010, the St. Louis Rams drafted him in the fifth round (No. 149 overall). … Owner Jimmy Haslam and outgoing team president Mike Holmgren attended practice. … Ngata said the Browns’ Alex Mack is the best center in the AFC North. “He’s a great center, real physical and real smart,” Ngata said.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at https://ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com.browns.abj.