September 21, 2014

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(Updated) NFL Combine Day 2: Browns coach Rob Chudzinski excited to work with QB Brandon Weeden, wants competition

INDIANAPOLIS – Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he’s excited to work with quarterback Brandon Weeden, but remains committed to a competition before the season.

And he didn’t rule out a trade of Weeden or Colt McCoy.

“Brandon has a really good arm, he can throw the ball, he can make all the throws that you need to throw, he has a good, calm poise and demeanor in the pocket,” Chudzinski said this morning at the scouting combine during a meeting with local media. “He was up and down a little bit during the season as any quarterback, especially a young quarterback, is. You see some things that are there that get you excited about him.”

The Browns have had a revolving door at the position since they returned in 1999 and Chudzinski was asked if it could continue. Weeden started 15 games as a rookie in 2012, finishing with 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 72.6 rating.

“Some of those things are hard to say,” Chudzinski said. “We need to get out on the practice field. We need to get into the meetings, get into the installs and evaluate him. We’re going to put the best guy on the field that gives us the best chance to win.”

Owner Jimmy Haslam said at the Super Bowl the team will add to the position, and that could come through the draft and/or free agency.

“I think the overall point is that we want competition,” Chudzinski said. “Competition makes people better, so however that competition ends up coming about, I’m satisfied that we’ll be pushing and creating an environment for competition and that’s really ultimately what you want. Guys are going to have opportunities and when guys have opportunities, they have to make good on those opportunities and deliver, and that’s ultimately what you want to see as a coach, and that’s what you’re looking for.”

Chudzinski was asked if the team would listen to trade offers for Weeden and McCoy.

“We’re not going to get into any specifics on any of our guys and any of those type of things,” he said. “We’re looking to improve our team in any areas, by any means of doing that.”

Chudzinski touched on several other topics:

** Whether the Browns will try to keep any of their free agents, including receiver/special teamer Joshua Cribbs. Free agency starts March 12.

“We have an overall plan that we’ve been working on and working through for the last few weeks,” Chudzinski said. “It’s sort of a high-level philosophy and there’s ongoing discussions and it’s an ongoing plan that we’re developing. At this time, not all the details have been worked out on that.”

Chudzinski was asked specifically about kicker Phil Dawson.

“Phil had a great year last year,” he said. “I know Phil and I have a lot of respect for Phil, but I’m not going to get into what’s going on in our free-agent type situations.”

** The zone-read offense’s future in Cleveland.

“It’ll depend on the guys that are playing it, do they have the capabilities of doing it and some of the background on doing it and we’ll just have to see once we get out there what the guys can do,” Chudzinski said.

He ran some of the zone read with quarterback Cam Newton the last two years as coordinator in Carolina, and doesn’t think it’s a fad.

“No, not at all,” Chudzinski said. “Most of the time defenses don’t have to account for the quarterback as a runner so you actually add a number to your run game and so your blocking schemes even out. It’s hard for them to outnumber you in the box and obviously just one more possibility of a guy who can carry the ball.

“It just gives you one more option as an offensive coach and in Carolina we were on the front end of that and on the cutting edge of really incorporating that as part of our offense.”

** The team’s biggest areas of need after studying the roster.

“I’m not going to get into pinning down the specifics on that, but we do have a lot of needs, a lot of areas we can improve on,” Chudzinski said.

** The transition to a 3-4, multiple-front schem.

“A lot of those things will be answered when we get on the field and go through that,” he said. “The style of 3-4 we’re talking about, the guys we have are very adaptable to that and will fit in. What I really see with that group upfront is a number of guys that can play multiple positions.

“The inside guys, Phil (Taylor) and (Ahtyba) Rubin and Billy (Winn) can move around. Some can play defensive end. Some can play nose. The defensive tackles can rotate around in there.”

** Jabaal Sheard switching from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside linebacker, which would require him to drop in coverage.

“It’s something he’s done some,” Chudzinski said. “You can see on tape he’s done a little bit of it. Obviously that will be something he’ll learn and keep working on. I know that (in the 2011 draft) there were a lot of 3-4 teams that were interested in him as well.”

** Injury updates.

Left guard Jason Pinkston (blood clot) has not been cleared to return to football.

“I’m not sure what his status is and probably won’t be for a while,” Chudzinski said.

Linebacker Chris Gocong’s rehab from a torn Achilles in training camp is “on target” and he’s running. Chudzinski wasn’t sure if he’ll be ready for minicamp in April.