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Browns rookie QB Weeden brushing off hits, criticism

By Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal –

BEREA, Ohio — Brandon Weeden has taken shots on and off the field through two preseason games. He’s still standing.

Weeden said he was surprised to feel fine Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Green Bay Packers cornerback Brandian Ross blasted him in the chest. The hit didn’t force Weeden out of the game, but he clearly was shaken up.

“I just lost my breath,” Weeden said Friday after the Browns got some light work done during a short practice. “I tried to call the next play in the huddle, and I couldn’t even spit out a word. I’d try to imitate it, but I’d make a fool of myself. It was bad. The offensive line was laughing at me. I called the wrong direction. I was hurting there for a second, but I feel good today. I feel 100 percent healthy.”

Right before he absorbed the blow, Weeden got rid of the ball and completed an 8-yard pass to wide receiver Jordan Norwood on third-and-5 from the Browns’ 29-yard line.

“You don’t want to put yourself in that position, but every once in a while you’re going to step into a throw like that,” Weeden said.

Weeden took 40 snaps and played the entire first half in the Browns’ 35-10 preseason win over the Packers. He completed 12-of-20 passes for 118 yards, led the Browns on four scoring drives (a touchdown and three field goals) and finished without a turnover.

It was a significant improvement over his performance in the Browns’ exhibition opener Aug. 10 against the Detroit Lions. Weeden took 15 snaps in his NFL debut, completed 3-of-9 passes for 62 yards, threw an interception, lost a fumble and failed to produce a scoring drive.

The shots off the field followed. Weeden said he read a bunch of criticism from fans on Twitter.

“You can’t really grade an outcome of a game over nine passes, much less 15 plays and especially (since) it was my first-ever NFL start,” said Weeden, 28, who spent five seasons in minor-league baseball before pursuing a football career at Oklahoma State University. “You’ve got to keep that in mind. Regardless of how old I am, it’s still a big jump from college football.

“I don’t listen to (criticism) fortunately. I’ve been there. I’ve played the baseball thing. I didn’t listen to it then. I didn’t listen to it in college, and I’m going to continue to not listen to it. But I think (the fans) want a winner and so do I. I want to win games just as much as they do and for that to happen, I’m going to have to play well.”

Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Weeden was better in his second NFL game, but he still has a lot of work to do.

“There were a couple of progressions there that I think Brandon could be better,” Shurmur said. … “He’ll be better with that the next time, but for the most part he led us on a touchdown drive and did some other things better than he did in the first game. As you work your way through the preseason, training camp and the games, you just want to see steady improvement, and I think I saw that from him.”

Developing chemistry

Weeden, of course, will only benefit once he’s on the same page with his wide receivers. He said he’s getting there with Greg Little.

His connection with rookie Josh Gordon is another story.

In both of the Browns’ exhibition games, Gordon didn’t break to the ball hard enough on hook routes. The sloppy technique gave Lions cornerback Dwight Bentley and Packers cornerback Casey Hayward prime chances for interceptions, though both had drops.

“The route with Gordon — I talked to him before the game, during the game and after the game about certain things I see I think he can do,” Weeden said. “I’m not a receivers coach, so I don’t know how to tell him to run a route, but (I can tell him) what I’m thinking as far as when I’m going to pull the trigger.

“I think that’s the main thing — the timing of that route. The DB made a great play on it, but (Gordon) was a yard or two long. If he runs it at the right depth, maybe it’s a completion versus almost a pick-six. It’s getting on the same page.”

Weeden is urging Gordon to step up because his development is vital for the offense.

“They’re throwing him in the fire,” Weeden said. “He’s going to be out there. He’s got way too many tools and he’s way too good of a player to not be on the field. You’ve got to kind of tailor stuff to fit him, what he does well. There’s certain things he does extremely well. We’re going to try to tailor those things to him to put the ball in his hands.”

Injury updates

Tight end Jordan Cameron, wide receiver Travis Benjamin and defensive end Frostee Rucker returned to practice Friday.

Cameron said he suffered a bone bruise in his lower back Aug. 10 when he caught a 42-yard pass from quarterback Colt McCoy and Detroit Lions safety Sean Jones landed on him.

“I was just bugged,” Cameron said. “It was just annoying. I wanted to be out there and keep playing. And for it to end like that, I wanted obviously to get out there and try to make some more plays and kind of showcase what I’ve been doing during camp. But it happens. It’s part of the game. (I’ll) bounce back, and I’ll be good.”

Benjamin practiced for the first time since he was hurt against the Lions.

“I had a few minor problems, but it’s OK now,” he said, declining to reveal the nature of his injuries. … “I knew my intentions, and I could’ve gotten in the game. Coach Shurmur knew my intentions, so it was just a detailed thing that he just didn’t want me to play.”

Rucker had been sidelined since Aug. 1. He has been wearing a bulky brace on his right knee as of late.

Rookie cornerback Trevin Wade also practiced. His participation is notable because he was carted from the sideline to the locker room during the fourth quarter Thursday.

Meanwhile, the following 14 players were sidelined during practice Friday: wide receiver Rod Windsor (undisclosed), wide receiver Carlton Mitchell (right leg), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (right ankle), strong safety Usama Young (reported hamstring), rookie running back Trent Richardson (left knee), weakside linebacker Chris Gocong (right Achilles tendon), middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (reported sore shoulder), linebacker Emmanuel Acho (undisclosed), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (right knee), offensive lineman Oniel Cousins (Shurmur cited soreness), tight end Benjamin Watson (undisclosed), defensive end Juqua Parker (undisclosed), defensive tackle Phil Taylor (left pectoral muscle) and strongside linebacker Scott Fujita (left leg).

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