BEREA —There are several Cleveland Browns players who will make their NFL debuts on Sunday, including top picks Trent Richardson, Mitchell Schwartz and Josh Gordon.
However, the biggest debut will be of quarterback Brandon Weeden, the 22nd overall pick from Oklahoma State.
Weeden knows this is not the same stage as when he made his professional debut as a pitcher in the Yankees organization in Tampa in a Class A game.
“I realize how big of a stage this is, and how important it is to this town and to the guys in the locker room,” he said. “This is the big leagues. This is the show.
“I don’t think there was a person in the stands when I pitched my first game in Tampa when I was with the Yankees. So I’ve got a lot more on my plate, a lot more on my shoulders, but I’m extremely excited to play this first one against Philly.”
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress said he thinks Weeden’s experience in baseball will help him because when you give up “a homerun, you can’t blame the shortstop.”
“He never lets you see him sweat,” Childress said. “He’s wired the way you want him to be.”
Shurmur said he likes the way Weeden handles adversity.
“That’s one of the traits that you like to see in a guy that’s very competitive,” Shurmur said. “…You don’t want a player that’s going to reel. We’ve seen it with quarterbacks and other players, how many times have you seen a guy make a mistake and then turn around and make another one?
“There’s something about the way these guys train themselves when you don’t want to see that. The fact that he can get rid of a mistake, because he’s going to make a few Sunday, let’s just face it. Every player out there’s going to make a few. Now, they’ve got to limit the ones they make, so that we can win. When you make one, you’ve got to get it correct, forget and move on.”
Childress said he hasn’t seen anything that makes him think Weeden is over his head.
“He’s plenty smart,” Childress said. “He’s probably his own worst critic. It remains to be seen how he does over 16 games. He’s a tough enough kid.”
Shurmur says he’s been around Weeden enough to feel he can handle to pressure of an NFL game.
“I’ve seen him operate here in the offseason,” Shurmur said. “I’ve seen him operate in training camp. I’ve had a chance to interact with him on a daily basis for a very long time now. I’m very confident that he’s going to do a good job.”
Shurmur said he’s seen the maturity in Weeden, despite being a first-year player.
“I think there’s a veteran presence there even though he’s a rookie, which you need because sooner or later you’re standing out there in the middle of the field, and it’s the crowd and the opponent and you have to make a play,” Shurmur said. “There’s just got to be something in you deep that’s just going to help you do that. I think I see that.”
Shurmur said he has not seen the ‘deer in the headlights’ look or ‘rookie stare’ from Weeden.
“I think when you watch him play in practice there are times when he’ll make a rookie mistake,” Shurmur said. “I haven’t seen the rookie stare though. That’s a good phrase.”
“By all measures, this is the next step,” he said. “I think he has come along about as expected. He’s a flat line guy and you appreciate that.”
Weeden said the task at hand for the Browns isn’t monumental, but they are going up against a very good team in the Eagles.
“Obviously, their defensive line is solid,” he said. “You’ve got to get the ball out quick. But you’ve got to protect them. That’s really the moral of the story. In order to be able to win, you’ve got to be able to run the football and you’ve got to be able to throw the ball down field-- you’ve got to do the small things.”
Albeit the preseason, Weeden got a rude awakening when the Eagles pressured him the majority of the time he was in the game, causing a strip sack and fumble.
“But it all starts with protecting, especially with out front five, including our backs,” he said. “Obviously, they’re extremely fast off the football and their main objective is to hit me in the chin, so they’re good. They’re great football players.”
Modell’s Passing: Former Browns owner Art Modell died early Thursday morning in Baltimore. Modell owned the Browns for 34 years before moving the team to Baltimore in November 1995.
The Browns released a short statement on Modell’s passing:
“The Cleveland Browns would like to extend their deepest condolences to the entire Modell family.”
“When I first came into the league, (Modell) was one of the owners that reached out to me,” Mike Holmgren said. “I knew David (Modell) and my heart goes out to the family.”
Holmgren said he was to interview with Modell in 1999 with the Ravens before he took the job with the Seahawks and Modell always teased him about that.
Injury Report: Did not practice: OL Oniel Cousins (ankle), OL John Greco (calf), LB James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique). Limited in practice: TE Jordan Cameron (groin), DB Eric Hagg (illness), QB Thaddeus Lewis (thumb), RB Chris Ogbonnaya (ankle), DB Dimitri Patterson (knee), DB Ray Ventrone (hamstring), TE Ben Watson (thigh) and DB Usama Young (thigh).
Jauron Wary of Vick: Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said the defense will have a tough time trying to contain the weapons of the Eagles starting with QB Michael Vick.
“Not many people really ever have (contained him),” Jauron said. “He’s an extremely talented player, who can do it all. I believe you have to play your game. He’s going to make plays and hopefully you can limit him.”
Mike Holmgren said the other day that he was confident the defense would be all right despite missing several starters to start the season.
“That was nice of him to say that,” Jauron said. “I’ll thank him when I see him. I don’t make any plays. I like our guys. I like our staff a lot. I believe we’ll be tested.”
Childress Appreciates Richardson: Offensive coordinator Brad Childress coached RB Adrian Peterson as a rookie and said the Browns are on a different path with Richardson because of his injury. However, he is looking forward to seeing him play.
“He’s gifted,” Childress said. “I don’t think you get an appreciation and full measure until you see him in pads.”