BEREA — Quarterback Brandon Weeden learned a valuable lesson while watching Brian Hoyer lead the Browns to their first win last week in Minnesota.
“Don’t get hurt,” Weeden said Friday. “I don’t know how else to put it. Injuries suck. They happen. Things happen for a reason and we’ll see how it plays out.”
Weeden didn’t feel right as he watched from the sideline. And he didn’t mean his sprained right thumb.
“It’s terrible. I felt like a duck out of water on the sidelines,” he said of missing the start. “In pregame warmup it was a unique feeling. I’ve never felt it, honestly ever in any sport. It’s frustrating.
“It sucks. It’s not how you draw it up just because as a competitor I want to be out there.”
Weeden will miss his second straight game Sunday against Cincinnati, with Hoyer starting again. Weeden began throwing Thursday with a baseball and softball and reintroduced the football Friday with about 40 tosses. He hadn’t thrown since banging his hand on a helmet on a follow-through Sept. 15 against the Ravens.
“It felt great,” he said. “Everything has been above and beyond what I was hoping and it’s getting there. It’s definitely ahead of the curve. I healed faster than maybe (the medical staff) originally thought that I was.
“If I can grip it, it doesn’t hurt, so it’s getting better.”
Weeden said he doesn’t know when he might be able to play and is taking it day by day.
“Test this thing and keep pushing it and whenever Chud and the staff is ready for me to go, I’ll be ready to go,” he said.
Coach Rob Chudzinski reiterated this week he’ll decide the starting quarterback on a weekly basis. The job had been Weeden’s until the injury and he doesn’t know if he’ll get it back when he’s healthy.
“At this point where we’re at, that’s out of my control,” he said. “My focus is making sure this thumb continues to make the steps that allow me to get back and be 100 percent. There’s no reason to rush back and get to where I’m not completely healthy, so my main goal is getting healthy and whenever I am then I’ll sit down with Chud and we’ll go from there.”
Chudzinski said he explained the situation to Weeden, and that he understood.
“We really haven’t talked about it,” Weeden said. “My main focus, our main focus is me getting healthy and once I get healthy then we can cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Hoyer will start against the Bengals. He went 30-for-54 for 321 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions, a 68.5 rating and led the winning drive in the final minutes against the Vikings.
“Brian played well. He played really well,” Weeden said. “He took advantage of the opportunities that are in front of them.
“I think as a whole, offensively, we played really good. Obviously, having Josh (Gordon, receiver) back, it was nice for Brian. That’s a big weapon for him. But I thought he played real well.”
Weeden completed 55 percent of his passes for 516 yards, a touchdown, three interceptions and a 62.0 rating in the opening two losses. Only Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman has a lower rating, and he was benched this week.
Weeden was sacked 11 times and didn’t have Gordon, who served a two-game suspension.
CUNDIFF KICKS, QUESTIONABLE
Billy Cundiff dressed in full uniform and kicked for the first time since experiencing tightness in his thigh against the Vikings. He was unable to finish the game.
“He seems to have no problems,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll see (today) how he feels.”
Cundiff was limited in practice and listed as questionable (50-50) on the official injury report, and Chudzinski wouldn’t get specific about the plan for Sunday if Cundiff can’t kick.
“We have possibilities with Spencer, as well as other guys that are out there,” Chudzinski said.
Spencer Lanning is the punter, who handled the final extra point and kickoff vs. the Vikings. He was a kicker in college. Giorgio Tavecchio lost the tryout to Cundiff the opening week of the season and could be signed. He’s never kicked in the NFL.
Cundiff wouldn’t discuss the injury, citing team policy.
“I kicked enough just to kinda see how I feel and obviously we’ll evaluate (today),” he said, adding he won’t kick today and never does on Saturday. “I’ve been encouraged all week. Let’s just put it that way.”
Outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard didn’t practice all week with a sprained left knee — he wasn’t on the field during the portions open to the media — and was listed as doubtful. Rookie Barkevious Mingo is expected to make his first NFL start in his place.
** Defensive end Billy Winn (quadriceps) and outside linebacker Quentin Groves (ankle) were ruled out. Starter Ahtyba Rubin and backup John Hughes will see increased time without Winn.
** Right guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle) was limited all week and listed as questionable. He missed the first three games following arthroscopic surgery Aug. 9.
He and Oniel Cousins (chest, probable) shared work with the first-team offense during the week, and Lauvao said it will be a gametime decision who starts.
“We’ll wait and see how he feels, and we’ll evaluate this practice and take a look at it on tape,” Chudzinski said. “He’s been working in and getting a good feel back into it. He’s moving around pretty well.”
** The Bengals will have a depleted secondary. Cornerbacks Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick and safety Reggie Nelson were listed as doubtful with hamstring injuries. Hall and Nelson are starters, and Kirkpatrick comes off the bench.
NEXT MEN UP
The four-man rotation at outside linebacker is on the shelf with Sheard and Groves injured. Mingo and Paul Kruger will get the vast majority of snaps, but rookies Paul Hazel and Eric Martin could see their first action on defense. Both were undrafted and claimed off waivers after the final cuts.
“Teammates have been helping out any way they can,” Hazel said. “We have been staying after practice and trying to get some extra work. It will be big for us to step up and play.
“Coach said make sure to be ready. We’ve got to bite down and get into our playbooks so we’ll be ready.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.