09/17/2013 04:05 PM
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden underwent an MRI on his sprained right thumb today, and his status for Sunday's game in Minnesota in uncertain. Browns spokesman Zak Gilbert denied a report by Cleveland station WTAM's Mike Trivisonno that Weeden's thumb is "really screwed up'' and that he could be out a "long, long, long time, possibly the season.'' Trivisonno attributed it to a very good source.
But Gilbert checked it out with coach Rob Chudzinski and said the report is untrue. He said that Weeden hasn't even been ruled out for this week's game let alone possibly missing the season. Chudzinski said today that he'll wait until Wednesday to see if Weeden can practice, and won't know for a few days if he can play. "We’ll see how it responds in the next couple of days,'' he said. "It’s the next morning. You don’t always get an indication on how quickly guys start feeling better.”
Chudzinski also revealed that in the event Weeden can't play, he's deciding whether to start No. 2 Jason Campbell or No. 3 Brian Hoyer. “I’m going to keep all of our options open right now,'' Chudzinski said. "Obviously we have two options in Jason and Brian both.”
Chudzinski was asked why he's not committing to Campbell for the start considering that he's been the No. 2 since the beginning of camp and has more starting experience. “I want to keep [the options] open,'' said Chudzinski. "We’re really waiting on Brandon to see where he’s at and make the determination in the next few days and we’ll go from there.”
He indicated he'd feel comfortable starting either backup. "I’m confident in all the guys that we have,'' said Chudzinski. "I think I mentioned that a few weeks back. We’ll put the guy out there that I feel like is going to give us the best chance on Sunday if it’s not Brandon.”
Of course, Chudzinski could just be trying to keep the 0-2 Vikings guessing, but Campbell and Hoyer have shared second-team reps since camp, and Hoyer has been a longtime favorite of Browns general manager Mike Lombardi.
Whatever the case, Campbell took the news in stride that he's not necessarily the next man up. "We're all on the same team,'' said Campbell. "Whatever the situation is, you have to be a pro and that’s how I approach it. I'll just continue to keep pushing forward and striving to help guys around me to become better, and at the same time just worry about trying to do my job.''
He stressed that he won't worry about things he can't control. "In these situations, you be supportive as much as possible,'' he said. "We don’t know what’s the status of Weeden yet. Also I don’t know the status of my own position just yet. So the only thing I can do is just keep preparing and just try to stay focused as best as possible and not worry about those things.''
A ninth-year pro, has gone 31-40 in his 71 starts with a career rating of 82.5. In his last two seasons as a full-time starter in Oakland before the Browns broke his collarbone, he went 11-7. "I've been in this for a long time, so you’ve just got to try to lean on your experience in these situations,'' he said.
Campbell replaced Weeden with 3:34 left in Sunday's 14-6 loss to the Ravens with the Browns trailing by that margin and Campbell backed up to his 1-yard line. His drive fizzled at the 28, where his fourth-down flip to Jordan Cameron came up short. He completed one of four attempts for 6 yards and a 39.6 rating."
Hoyer, signed as a free agent in May, said didn't know that he was in the running for the start until informed Monday by reporters in the locker room.
"I haven't even talked to Chud yet,'' he said. "You guys come in here and tell me that, but nothing's been told to me. I prepare every week the same way. In this league, you never what could happen and that's just kind of what you've got to prepare for and go from there.''
Hoyer, who backed up Tom Brady for three seasons in New England, has started one career game, a loss to San Francisco last season shortly after he joined the Cardinals.
But he feels 100% ready if called upon to face the Vikings.
"Yeah, I shouldn't be here if I didn't feel that way,'' Hoyer said. "I've had experience of being a guy who you never know when you're name's going to get called and you can get thrown in there at a moment's notice. It's taught me to prepare like you're the one that's going to be playing the whole game. Same thing in that preseason week (his start against Chicago). I didn't know if Brandon was going to play or if Jason was going to play. Mentally, I prepared myself to play every game like I do every time, and I think that paid off.''
Regardless of who starts, they'll receive the benefit of having deep threat Josh Gordon back on the field after his two-game suspension for a failed drug test. In Gordon's absence, the Browns have scored a total of 16 points -- and one touchdown -- in their two losses.
"Oh, he's a huge difference,'' said Campbell. "He’s a big target, he’s a big guy, and he’s a big part of what we do offensively. Not having him out there, definitely hurts a little bit, he definitely adds another dimension of helping us stretch the field. But at the same time, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Everyone just has to go to work, go to practice and focus on doing your job.''
Neither Campbell nor Hoyer gets many reps with the first-team offense, but Hoyer doesn't view it as a problem.
"It's football,'' he said. "You take a few extra snaps with (center) Alex (Mack) because you haven't taken as many. You make sure you get that down and we always throw one-on-ones and it's a constant rotation. There's not a guy over there that I haven't thrown to. I'm used to not getting a ton of reps and being expected to be ready to play.''
Hoyer looked sharp at times during his preseason start in Chicago, an 18-16 Browns victory. Playing with and against backups, he completed 24 of 35 attempts for 307 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions for an 81.5 rating.
"We go through the same drills as Brandon in individual and things like that,'' he said. "You're still throwing routes, and when you get your scout team reps, I always try to translate it to a play that we have. That doesn't always happen. Some teams, they throw up a card and I'm like, 'I've never seen this player ever.' But you try to relate it to something you can do and you still get your reps that way. And as far as when our offense is up, I'm sitting back there and I always try to get right behind the quarterback and try to go through the read on my own.''
Despite the Browns giving up 11 sacks in two games, Hoyer still has total faith in the offensive line.
"I think they're great,'' he said. "That defensive front we just played the other day is pretty darn good and they're getting paid too and that's the point of the game. That's what's great about this league. Everyone's competing against each other and sometimes you're going to win some, sometimes you're going to lose, but you have to be able to move on and I think we have a resilient team that's able to bounce back and you've seen it. We fight until the end and like I said, I'm just sitting over there in street clothes, but you can see it even there. There's no give-up in any of these guys and that's something that can be built upon. You've just got to keep going at it, and eventually things are going to break.''