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Cleveland Browns training camp: Brandon Weeden ready to lead

  • By Aditi Kinkhabwala
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NFL.com has dispatched several writers to report on the 32 training camps over the next few weeks. Aditi Kinkhabwala details her visit with the Cleveland Browns below. (Click here for the complete archive of Training Camp Reports.)

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In Berea, Ohio, where the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Then again, how else would it be on Day 1, the rookies-and-quarterbacks session of training camp? Hopes are high and any kind of game action is far off.

OBSERVATION DECK

1. A person who doesn't feel for quarterback Colt McCoy probably doesn't have a heart. McCoy has started 21 games over two seasons for the Cleveland Browns, he's operating like he's still competing to be the starter again, and yet ... he's not. A veritable class act, McCoy is just days from being officially demoted. As a small consolation, coach Pat Shurmur did say McCoy made several throws -- and went through several progressions -- he just wouldn't have a year ago.

2. Brandon Weeden is ready. The 28-year-old rookie quarterback -- and 22nd overall pick -- commanded the huddle and definitely had the playbook down. Shurmur wouldn't officially anoint him the starter Wednesday, but he said "sooner is better than later" in terms of naming a No. 1 signal-caller. Shurmur added that he does not need to see Weeden or McCoy (or backup Seneca Wallace, for that matter) in a preseason game before making his decision.

3. If receiver Josh Gordon isn't sincere, he sure sounded like someone who is desperately trying to be. Cleveland selected Gordon in the second round of the supplemental draft two weeks ago. The one-time Baylor receiver, who left the Big 12 school after two failed drug tests, admitted Wednesday to failing another drug test last year at Utah. Gordon said he did his best to convince Cleveland's brass that he's "a changed individual." He talked about owing the Browns his best effort, having "a new foundation" and having "no thoughts" of reverting to old behavior: "I don't want to be that person."

THE NEW GUYS

Gordon: If the past does indeed stay in the past, the Browns have themselves a playmaker. Gordon is as big as advertised (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and looks absurdly smooth for a guy who hasn't played in a game since 2010 (after transferring to Utah, he had to sit out a year, per transfer rules). He showed great hands; Shurmur said he lines up well and understands coverage adjustments. Even Weeden raved about having him as a target.

Trent Richardson: The Browns will rush the ball better. Trust me.

Brad Childress: Shurmur will still call the Browns' plays on offense, at least to start, but the former Minnesota Vikings head coach, Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator and University of Illinois quarterback is taking over coordinator duties in Cleveland. He's already made an impression; Weeden called him "awesome," even as he admitted Childress routinely puts his players on the hot seat by barking out the beginning of play calls ... and expecting them to finish.

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"Is that really true?"
-- Weeden, upon hearing that New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow had been working with former major league pitcher/pitching coach Tom House on his throwing motion.

A former New York Yankees prospect with a 90 mph fastball and five years of minor-league experience, Weeden said he'd think a catcher could better approximate a football throw. (He then demonstrated to illustrate his point -- which, to be perfectly honest, was pretty cool.)

EXTRA POINTS

1. Several of Weeden's passes netted a "Good throw!" holler from the field.

2. Richardson is very soft-spoken. If all goes as planned, he'll be doing a lot of interviews for a long time, so he'll have to work on that.

3. Shurmur smiled a lot. And was friendly. And even joked when asked about "some" prognosticators expecting little of the Browns, saying he thought it was "most," not just "some." Point is: He didn't look like a man who thinks he's stepping in front of a firing line.

OUTLOOK

Their schedule is brutal and their division is nasty. But after finishing 29th in total yards and 28th in rushing, and producing just 218 measly points, the Browns' offense has to be better. After all, there's a new coordinator (Childress), a new running back (Richardson), a new quarterback (Weeden), two new wide receivers named Josh (Gordon and Cooper, Weeden's former Oklahoma State teammate) and probably a new tight end (Jordan Cameron is in his second year; Brad Smelley was picked in the seventh round). Besides, remember what we said about Shurmur smiling? A man who's afraid for his team doesn't smile.

Follow Aditi Kinkhabwala on Twitter @AKinkhabwala

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