Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden is a rookie.
Yet at the age of 29, Weeden is the fourth oldest person on the Cleveland offense.
Weeden’s road to the NFL is a little more well traveled than that of his fellow rookies.
In 2002, Weeden was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft.
He spent five years in the minor leagues but as his baseball career fizzled out, he headed to Stillwater, Oklahoma to enroll at Oklahoma State University.
After redshirting in 2007, Weeden eventually became a starter at the beginning of the 2010 season and in his two years as the Cowboys quarterback, he set numerous school records.
The Browns took Weeden with the 22nd pick in April’s NFL Draft and the experience he has playing at this level has helped a team with over a dozen rookies.
“He’s getting better and better every game,” running back Trent Richardson said. “With Brandon being a professional before, he knows how to handle his time and he knows how to speak to the huddle and he had some great leaders around him when he was doing his thing.”
Of the five rookie quarterbacks starting around the league, Weeden leads the group with 1,519 passing yards.
The numbers finally translated into a win last week and head coach Pat Shurmur knows there will be ups and downs during any rookie season.
“He’s had pockets of good play and then he’s made some mistakes,” Shurmur said. “I feel like he’s grinding through this rookie year. He’s making improvements in every game and every practice and I anticipate that he will continually improve throughout the season.”
Perhaps the most impressive athletic achievement Weeden accomplished came when he picked up the game of golf in 2008.
Within two years, Weeden considered himself a low, single-digit handicap golfer and walked onto the OSU golf team, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation.
It has been a whirlwind athletic career for Weeden but now his sole focus is on the game of football and his teammates are starting to see a different quarterback than the one selected in April.
“Brandon is becoming more consistent and he’s become more of a believer in himself and his arm and he knows that we’re behind him 100 percent,” Richardson said. “That’s a big thing being a quarterback because quarterback is a hard position to play, and if you don’t think your team has confidence in you, that’s big.”
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The Indianapolis Colts injuries have seemed to dominate the storylines heading into this weekend’s matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
However, perhaps the most important injury from a production standpoint resides with Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson.
In the Browns 34-24 win over the Bengals last week, Richardson left in the first half after taking a helmet to the side of his body.
His status for this week remains in question.
“Health-wise, it’s day-to-day. Hopefully I’m out here and I’ll be playing on Sunday. I just hope some things come along,” Richardson said of his ribs injury. “(Head coach Pat Shurmur) has got a mind for me, he’s just waiting to see how I feel at the end of the week and then we’ll see if I can go on Sunday.”
If Richardson isn’t in the lineup Sunday afternoon, the Browns will be missing a player that has accounted for just less than half of the Cleveland touches this year.
Richardson is the leading receiving (22 catches for 186 yards) and rusher (95 carries for 340 yards) for the Browns.
“He’s very valuable,” Shurmur said of what Richardson means to the offense. “I think he’s a player that again established himself in the college ranks and he’s found a way to have some production here in the first games. I do think he’ll continue to improve and when you have a guy you can hand it to who has a feel for getting the end zone, of course it helps your offense.”
Leading the Browns in receiving comes as a surprise to Richardson, despite catching 68 passes over three seasons at Alabama.
“I kind of expected to lead the team in rushing. As far as receiving, I didn’t expect that,” Richardson said. “I expected to be a big part of the game, not as far as the passing game. It just means that they count on me a lot and I mean a lot to the program. My work load is going to be heavy so I’ve got to make sure that I’m on my stuff at all times.”
Colts rookie nose tackle Josh Chapman won National Titles with Richardson in 2009 and 2011.
Listed at 316 pounds, Chapman isn’t wowed by the strength of too many players but he knows first hand the type of punch the five-foot-nine-inches, 230-pound frame of Richardson brings to the field.
“He can block, he can run, and he can go out and catch a ball,” Chapman said. “He’s one of those guys that has everything you want in a running back.”
“He’s a strong guy with speed. You can’t underestimate his strength or his quickness and speed.”
Through six games, Richardson is second among all NFL rookies with 526 yards from scrimmage and is showing why the Browns traded up to the No. 3 pick in April’s Draft to select the Crimson Tide product.
The impact Richardson has on a game is well known and the thought of missing even just one quarter doesn’t sit well with him.
“I was so frustrated not to be in that game,” Richardson said of the Bengals game. “Just for me to be out the whole second half, it was killing me but I knew I was doing what was best for the team. I’m not saying I couldn’t have done it or gone out there and done it, but coach didn’t want to take an even bigger risk of me injuring it even more.”
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“I am a soldier; I will fight where I am told and I will win the fight” Gen. George Patton
The analogy between “Battles” and “Sports” has long been accepted in many fields but nowhere more so than on the gridiron where men prepare and dress for battle. To an “outsider” like myself there is no greater sport’s battle than that of an NFL game, where strategies meet and muscles, speed and the quick of mind will win. The Colts have had many great strategists, men of muscle and speed along with courage for quick decisions, and once again they fill our ranks. Chuck Pagano, Bruce Arians, Greg Manusky, and a host of players that I dare not try and mention because of so many standouts in every position. And then there is Jim Irsay and family. Jim makes sure we are all part of his extended Coltstrong family. So into battle we will all follow, as each game unfolds into the greatest battle of speed chess I have ever played!
The game against the Packers was undoubtedly the game that set the bar in this season, maybe for every team in the NFL. But the next week, against the Jets we gave total credence to a Dwight Eisenhower quote on battle, “In going into battle I have always found the planning is useless but planning is indispensable.” So we have lost one battle. Badly. But we are still in the fight!
The frustrating thing as a fan is that you can’t do anything. Sure, I wish the Jet’s cackle berries turn into Emus and kick their dunny door in (that’s Aussie for hope the eggs in their refrigerator hatch into large, angry, flightless birds with big legs that kick their toilet door down), but we fought the fight and lost a battle, learned from it and lived to fight again. The Jets were better on that day and we thank them for an honest and well fought game. Our coaches would have reviewed the moments of brilliance by Colts players and there were many throughout the game. We will undoubtedly practice these and do them even better. They might also have a few words to say about our errors and how best to avoid them in the future (just a few words, I’m sure). But we are a young team, we are building and the Irsay family know just how to build a football team. So as fans there is something we can do; we stay the course. It’s early days for this team and while again I say, I will not be shocked if we do make the playoffs, it doesn’t matter. This year that would simply be a bonus for is the future I look to with this Colts team. For now it is more important to remain COLTSTRONG and back our team whenever they are on the gridiron.
Rooting for the Colts a half a world away. Our resident Aussie blogger, Rob Zammit, is a veterinarian and dedicated Colts fan.
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