BEREA — Whether Browns fans like it or not, Brandon Weeden is expected to start this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The embattled quarterback regained the job Sunday afternoon when Jason Campbell suffered a concussion in the third quarter of Cleveland’s 27-11 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coach Rob Chudzinski said Campbell briefly visited the team’s training facility Monday and is being treated under the NFL’s concussion protocol. No target date has been set for his return to practice.
“I think Jason was OK, felt OK,” Chudzinski said. “He came over this morning and has gone home since. Hopefully, we’ll have Jason back soon, but chances are that Brandon will start this week.
“Whoever it is at the quarterback position is going to prepare and be ready to play. I believe in everyone who puts on the Cleveland Browns uniform.”
With Weeden the only healthy quarterback on the roster, the Browns are bringing in four-year veteran Caleb Hanie for a workout today, a league source confirmed. Hanie has not played in a regular-season game since 2011 — starting and losing four games for the Chicago Bears — and was cut by the Ravens on Aug. 30.
Receiver Davone Bess has been serving as Cleveland’s third-string quarterback since tight end MarQueis Gray hurt his hamstring two weeks ago.
“We’re looking at all of our options,” Chudzinski said. “There is a good chance that we’ll sign another guy before the game.”
Campbell was injured with 7:59 left in the third quarter when Steelers cornerback William Gay delivered a left-handed blow to his face mask. He was sacked and fumbled — Pittsburgh recovered — as referee Terry McAulay didn’t throw a flag for Gay’s illegal hit. Contact to the head of the quarterback is prohibited.
The Browns have submitted the play for review by the NFL office, which will almost certainly fine Gay, but can’t take away the game-changing touchdown that the Steelers scored on the next snap to increase their lead to 20-3.
“It doesn’t seem like they miss that call very much,” linebacker Paul Kruger said.
With Campbell knocked out of the game, Weeden played the final 1½ quarters at FirstEnergy Stadium. He completed 13 of 30 passes for 209 yards, a touchdown, an interception, a lost fumble and three sacks.
The sellout crowd responded by relentlessly booing him from the moment Campbell’s head hit the frozen ground.
“Yeah, he heard the boos all around the stadium, but you have to block that out,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “That was tough, but it comes with the territory.
“I’ve always been behind Brandon and I’m more than confident he can get the job done, whether he’s up or whether Jason is up.”
Most Browns backers, however, clearly have no faith in the 2012 first-round draft pick — and have good reason to feel that way.
Weeden is 5-14 in his NFL career as a starter and hasn’t posted a victory since Dec. 9, 2012, against Kansas City. He has lost all four of his starts this season, which caused him to lose the job to Brian Hoyer and then Campbell.
The Oklahoma State product ranks last on the team in passer rating (66.0), completion percentage (.515), yards per attempt (6.00), fumbles (four), sacks (24), interceptions (seven) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (1-to-1.17).
Weeden does have a golden opportunity to better his stats Sunday against the Jaguars, who share the worst record in the NFL at 2-9. Cleveland is 4-7 and still just one game out of the final AFC playoff position.
“At the end of the day, Brandon is on our team and he’s done some good things this season,” Chudzinski said. “He’s our second-team quarterback, or was our second-team quarterback, so we’ll see what we need to do this week. We need him to win and to help us win.”