What was inevitable is now a reality. Rookie Brandon Weeden is the Browns' new starting quarterback. And incumbent Colt McCoy is upset.
The alleged offseason competition never happened. Weeden received all the first-team reps at mini-camp and training camp after being snagged with the 22nd overall pick in the April draft. He will start Friday night when the Browns open their preseason in Detroit.
McCoy will enter second, followed by Seneca Wallace.
"I spoke to all three guys separately (Monday morning) and they are aware of the situation," said coach Pat Shurmur. "We've been open and honest in terms of communication. I told [Weeden] he's the starter and that I expect him to act that way."
Weeden has acted that way throughout camp. He has established a rapport with promising young receivers such as Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin. He has displayed arm strength that far exceeds that of his supposed competitors. His accuracy has improved greatly in recent practices. And his teammates have spoken glowingly about his presence in the huddle.
The Browns believe Weeden is better suited to maximize what appears to be greater athleticism at the skilled positions. The team managed just 20 touchdowns last year and its fewest points scored since 1999. The Browns must simply score more touchdowns to compete against teams on a far more challenging schedule.
Weeden said he's encouraged by his progress, but added that he welcomes the time under center that comes with being the starter.
"It's going real well," he said. "I know the plays well enough now where I can go into the huddle and joke with the guys. The chemistry is great and it's going to get better. I'm a lot more comfortable in the huddle than I was even a couple weeks ago.
"I'm excited. I busted my tail and I've come a long way. My preparation isn't going to change. I'm going to continue to be the leader of his football team and it starts Friday. Even for guys like Peyton Manning who have been in the league for 14 years, it takes every rep as a quarterback. You can't get enough looks. You can't get enough [practice] reps. You can't get enough game reps."
On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum was McCoy, who intimated that he had no chance to win the starting job.
"I haven't taken any snaps with the starters in walk-throughs or in practice," said McCoy, who sounded shaken and declined to speculate on whether he will ask to be traded. "I thought coming in it would be a competition. Every day I approach my job as a professional. I'm the first one here and the last one to leave. And I'll continue to do that."
Shurmur certainly hopes so because he has continued to stress that he will have no problem installing McCoy as the backup to Weeden. For now, however, the second-year quarterback will compete with Wallace. The odd man out will almost certainly be cut or traded.
Meanwhile, the Browns hope they have their quarterback of the future, a commodity unseen in Cleveland since Bernie Kosar was chucking the ball around Cleveland Stadium more than 20 years ago.
"Brandon is an outstanding thrower, good decision-maker, he's been working through his progressions, he understands where the ball goes and he's accurate," Shurmur said. "And when he's in the huddle, he's wired right to play the position."
That's plenty of praise for the 28-year-old who failed in professional baseball because he couldn't ride his 95-mile-an-hour fastball past Class A. Earning the starting quarterback job with the Browns is a dream-come-true for Weeden.
"I have a brother (Tyler) who played pro baseball and he asked me about this one of the first days of camp," Weeden recalled. "I told him to imagine going from Greenville right to the big leagues. Going from college [football] to making this kind of jump ... I'm just blessed to be in this position."
There was little doubt from draft day forward that "this position" would be starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns.
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