August 29, 2014

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Minicamp Notes: Shurmur to pick QB ‘sooner than later’

BEREA – The who seems inevitable. So the pressing question regarding the Browns’ quarterback competition is when will coach Pat Shurmur announce the starter.

“Sooner than later,” he said Wednesday at minicamp.

Shurmur was asked multiple times in multiple ways when he would pick a winner between rookie first-round draft choice Brandon Weeden and incumbent Colt McCoy and gave that answer each time. He didn’t offer a date or a choice, but it figures to be Weeden. The decision could come next week after the final round of organized team activities, early in training camp or after a couple of preseason games.

“If you know that he’s going to be your guy, then make it happen so everybody gets comfortable working with that guy all the time,” said Shurmur, who added that both quarterbacks have spent enough time working with the top receivers.

Shurmur has repeatedly told the media not to read too much into who takes the first repetitions with the No. 1 offense, but Weeden has done so the last three practices open to reporters. That’s just one of the signs pointing to Weeden beating out McCoy.

“Ideally, we would have a starter now, but when you have a new player that you really like — that’s why you picked them — you just need to see them come in and do it before you make that move,” Shurmur said.

He compared the situation to that of the Rams in 2010 after Sam Bradford was drafted No. 1 overall. Shurmur said Bradford was named the starter at the beginning of training camp, but veteran A.J. Feeley actually started the first two preseason games and Bradford wasn’t officially named until early September.

Shurmur was asked if Weeden his met his expectations.

“I’ve seen what we’ve expected from him,” he said. “I expected him to come in, you knew it was going to take a minute to get going, which he did a good job of getting it going. I think he understands our concepts, I think he’s quickly getting a feel for his receivers.

“He’s showing me that he understands how to play this game.”

PAXSON IN FRONT

Defensive tackle Scott Paxson continues to line up as the starter in place of Phil Taylor, who’s expected to be out until at least the end of October with a torn pectoral muscle. Taylor is attending meetings and rehabbing but hasn’t been on the field during practice.

Paxson, who played 16 games for the Browns last season as a backup, is an interesting story. He first tried out for an NFL team in 2006, but until last year had played in just one game, for the Steelers in 2008. He also spent time on the practice squads of Green Bay and Pittsburgh.

Shurmur said rookies John Hughes (third round) and Billy Winn (sixth) are competing with Paxson for the starting spot.

“That’s why we drafted them,” Shurmur said. “It’s hard to totally evaluate the linemen until we put pads on, but they’re doing a nice job.

“It looked like they’ve got good get-off. They use their hands well.”

HELPING HAND

The offseason addition of offensive coordinator Brad Childress has enabled Shurmur to spend his time at practice differently than last year, when he was also the coordinator. Shurmur can move from drill to drill and position to position while Childress directs the offense.

“I think I have the freedom to do that more now,” Shurmur said. “Obviously I tend to watch certain things, but I would say this, Brad does a very, very good job of directing the offensive coaches, the players and he and I are really on the same page on almost everything. Brad being here is very important for us and I think it will help us tremendously this season.”

Childress will run the offensive meetings during the year and collaborate with Shurmur on the game plan. Shurmur plans to keep calling the plays on Sundays.

WARD GOOD TO GO

Safety T.J. Ward missed the final eight games of last season with a sprained foot, but has competed at full speed throughout OTAs and minicamp.

“He is looking good,” Shurmur said. “He is running around playing fast and he looks like he is back healthy, to where he was before his injury.

“I still think of him as a young player when it comes to the amount of time he’s been on the field, so he needs to develop like the rest of the guys.”

Ward has started all 24 games he’s played in his two seasons.

DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE

When Ward broke up a pass over the middle, the defense was declared the winner of a drill where every play was third-and-5. As the losers, the entire offense did pushups.

Weeden went 0-for-2 with the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense. An out to receiver Greg Little was wide and off his hands, and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson broke up a pass over the middle intended for tight end Benjamin Watson.

McCoy went 2-for-2 with the second team, completing a pass over the middle to receiver Jordan Norwood and a deep out to tight end Jordan Cameron.

EXTRA POINTS

The speed of rookie receiver Travis Benjamin, a fourth-round pick, has been evident on deep routes the last two days. He’s gotten behind the coverage several times.

** Offensive lineman Oniel Cousins missed practice for family reasons. Kicker Jeff Wolfert returned after missing Tuesday for personal reasons.

** Defensive lineman Brian Schaefering (sports hernia), fullback Eddie Williams (back) and offensive lineman Stanley Daniels (undisclosed injury) watched practice.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.