Weeden probable starter, despite coach speak


Rob Chudzinski actually had the audacity to look reporters straight in the face Tuesday and say that the Browns quarterback competition is close.

That might have come as a shock to Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, both of whom would seem to be the players involved in the conversation. By all accounts, Weeden has consistently performed better than Campbell and third-stringer Brian Hoyer in all aspects of training camp.

If this were a horse race, Weeden would be Secretariat on the stretch run at the Belmont Stakes.

Yet there was Chudzinski following the company line and acting as if he’s not sure which quarterback will start the opener against the Miami Dolphins. Considering that Weeden has taken every snap with the first-team offense, the idea that it’s still a close competition is ludicrous.

“There are still three preseason games left,” Chudzinski said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done. We have plenty of practice time as well. Every day is an evaluation along the way. They each have done well.”

Weeden and Campbell should be credited with keeping straight faces when asked about Chudzinski’s comments. This is Campbell’s ninth season in the NFL and he’s now playing for his fourth team. He’s seen enough to know that a quarterback who takes every snap with the first team in practices isn’t going to be wearing a baseball hat in the season opener.

“He wants all of us to keep pushing to get better,” Campbell said. “He doesn’t want us to become complacent because when you look at the (AFC North) division, it’s a tough division. We have a lot of tough games, so everyone has to be prepared to play.”

Weeden has seen both sides of the naming-a-starter issue in his two NFL seasons. Last year former coach Pat Shurmur named him the starter before the first preseason game, which came as a surprise to Colt McCoy. The opposite has played out this year.

“He (Chudzinski) makes all the decisions,” Weeden said. “All I can do is what I control out here. If I continue to impress, then everything will take care of itself. I have to worry about me, and then the rest will follow suit.”

Weeden has clearly made strides in comparison to last year’s training camp. He still makes an occasional bad decision, but his arm strength and accuracy have been impressive.

“Overall, fairly good,” Weeden said of his performances to date. “Obviously, some days are better than others and plays are better than others, but that’s part of camp. We’re not scheming against our defense. It’s good for us because it challenges us. We have to adjust on the fly. It’s been up and down, but overall I think I’m making steady progress.”

Weeden started the preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams and will get the call again Thursday at home against the Detroit Lions. Barring an injury, it can be safely stated that he will be the starter Sept. 8 against the Dolphins.

“I’m confident I’m going to be (the starter),” Weeden said. “I also have to prove to the guys upstairs that I am the guy. The only way I can do that is to continue to play well and keep continuing to get better.”

The men “upstairs” at team headquarters already know which quarterback is the starter, and it’s not Campbell or Hoyer.