BEREA – With quarterback Brandon Weeden’s status in doubt for Sunday, and possibly the rest of the season, coach Rob Chudzinski will likely have a decision to make.
But he isn’t ready to say who will replace Weeden if a sprained right thumb sidelines him. The choices are Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer.
“I’m going to keep all of our options open right now,” Chudzinski said Monday. “We’re really waiting on Brandon to see where he’s at and make the determination in the next few days.”
Weeden banged his throwing hand against a helmet on a follow-through Sunday in the fourth quarter of the 14-6 loss to the Ravens. He stayed in for another play before heading to the locker room.
He left the stadium in a brace and in pain. He underwent an MRI on Monday afternoon, but the team didn’t reveal the results.
Chudzinski, through a team spokesman, refuted a report from WTAM 1100-AM talk-show host Mike Trivisonno, citing a source, that Weeden’s thumb injury is severe and he could miss the rest of the season. The Browns insisted Weeden hasn’t been ruled out for the Vikings game.
“We’ll see how it responds in the next couple of days,” Chudzinski said. “It’s the next morning. You don’t always get an indication on how quickly guys start feeling better.”
Weeden, a first-round pick last year, is 5-12 as a starter with 15 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He’s been sacked 11 times this season, and the offense has one touchdown and 16 points in two losses to start the season.
Campbell, who is 31-40 as a starter in eight-plus seasons, replaced Weeden for the final offensive series against the Ravens. He took over at the 1-yard line, was helped by a pass interference penalty, then threw three incompletions before a desperation fourth-down underhand flip to tight end Jordan Cameron came up well short of the first down.
Campbell’s been No. 2 on the depth chart since he arrived as a free agent in March, Chudzinski called his competition with Weeden close late in training camp and coordinator Norv Turner praised him. Yet Chudzinski is leaving the door open to start Hoyer, a St. Ignatius graduate with one NFL start in four-plus seasons.
“We’re all on the same team,” Campbell said. “You just have to be a pro. You have to be a pro about every situation. In these situations, you be supportive as much as possible.
“We don’t know what’s the status of Weeden yet. Also I don’t know the status of my own position just yet. So the only thing I can do is just keep preparing and just trying to stay focused as best as possible and not worry about those things.”
Hoyer was signed in May after he was waived by Arizona. He was inactive for the first two games and has worked mostly with the third team. From the beginning of the offseason, Weeden has taken every practice repetition with the starters.
“When you’re a quarterback in this league, you never know when your name’s going to get called,” Hoyer said. “So I study the same amount of film, I go out and practice and even if I’m not taking the reps, I’m taking a mental rep every play and that’s the way I approach this job.”
Hoyer, who will turn 28 next month, has one start in 15 career games. For the Cardinals last year in the season finale, he went 19-for-34 (55.9 percent) for 225 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a 73.8 rating in a 27-13 loss at San Francisco.
Browns general manager Michael Lombardi was a fan from Hoyer’s days in New England as a backup to Tom Brady and would probably like to see him get the chance to start. Hoyer said Chudzinski hadn’t talked to him about the possibility of starting.
“Nothing’s been told to me,” he said.
He feels he has a good grasp of Turner’s offense despite the limited time in it.
“This is the season, so it better be there,” Hoyer said. “It’s football. You go out and the play’s called and you try to execute it to the best of your ability, whether you had a rep in it or not.”
The year was supposed to be about finding out if Weeden could be the long-term solution, but could quickly devolve into another quarterback carousel. Weeden is 47-for-86 (55 percent) for 516 yards, a touchdown, three interceptions, 11 sacks and a 62.0 rating.
“I’m confident in all the guys that we have. I think I mentioned that a few weeks back,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll put the guy out there that I feel like is going to give us the best chance on Sunday if it’s not Brandon.”
Campbell felt like he was coming into his own as a starter with Oakland in 2011, but broke his collarbone vs. the Browns after a 4-2 start. He was a backup with Chicago last year.
“I’m just going to prepare like I always do as if you’re going to play in the game and prepare to be a starter,” he said. “I’ve been in this for a long time, so you’ve just got to try to lean on your experience in these situations.”