Browns decisions to be made in near future
If you take Browns coach Rob Chudzinski at his word, he still has a quarterback to pick to open the season.
We all know that’s not the case. There are reasons why Brandon Weeden has worked exclusively with the first team from the first snap of training camp through tonight’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions at First Energy Stadium.
Assuming that Weeden is the guy, Chudzinski will use the game to hone in on other battles for starting jobs and depth spots as the stretch run of camp has arrived. A starting cornerback to team with Joe Haden has to be found. Will Johnson Bademosi or Tashaun Gipson be the starting free safety? Will any of the free-agent rookies make the roster? Who’s going to handle the kicking and punting duties?
Chudzinski should know plenty more about the 80-man roster after tonight. He’ll then have another week before making the first round of cuts, after a game in Indianapolis a week from Saturday.
The plan for tonight is to play the starters into the second quarter. Depending on the length of drives, it’s possible some starters might remain in the game for the entire first half.
Chudzinski plans to use rookie kicker Brandon Bogotay exclusively on kickoffs, field goals and extra points. Bogotay’s competition with 13-year veteran Shayne Graham remains close.
Bogotay’s leg strength is an asset on kick offs and lengthy field-goal attempts. He has to prove that he can consistently make short-range field goals.
“I want to see him make them all,” Chudzinski said. “It will be him going through that process of playing a whole game. Do the kickoffs, the extra points, the field goals; have to turn around and be ready when different situations come up. Give him a chance to show that he can handle that.”
Tonight will mark the initial preseason appearance of running back Trent Richardson, who missed all four last year recovering from knee surgery and the opener last week with a sore shin. Richardson has kept his goals team-oriented when dealing with the frustrations of not playing.
“You want guys to want to play, and Trent wants to play” Chudzinski said. “At the same time, he trusts us and me enough that we’ll make the right decisions to put him in a position that he’ll be ready to play opening day.”
It appears the trio of running backs entering the season will be Richardson, Dion Lewis and Brandon Jackson. Montario Hardesty, who’s dealt with an assortment of major and minor injuries dating back to college, is scheduled for arthroscopic knee surgery and is sidelined indefinitely.
“We’ll just have to see when he gets back and balance that with the other guys and how they’re doing and how they’ve done in the next couple of weeks,” Chudzinski said of Hardesty’s roster chances. “You just have to keep coming back and fighting and I think that theme we’ve talked about a lot applies everywhere. He’ll make it back.”
Tonight’s game is another step in deciding if Buster Skrine, Chris Owens or rookie Leon McFadden starts opposite Haden. Skrine has played better in practice. Owens and McFadden have missed time with injuries and have fallen back.
Weeden shrugged off talk of a close competition with Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer for the starting job. It’s something that may have come down from upstairs to use as a motivational tool.
“Competition makes everybody better,” Weeden said. “Regardless of position, it challenges guys to come focused each and every day to work and to play better.”