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Browns' QB Weeden wobbles, won't fall down

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Browns' QB Weeden wobbles, won't fall down

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden received a vote of confidence on Election Day from his coach.

He'd happily trade it for a win.

Although the rifle-armed rookie failed to lead Cleveland to a touchdown during a 25-15 loss to Baltimore on Sunday, Browns coach Pat Shurmur offered his unwavering support to the 29-year-old QB, whose first nine games in the NFL have included some moments of brilliance and others he'd love to have back.

As the Browns (2-7) headed into their bye week with a long list of problems, a quarterback controversy is not one of them.

``I do believe in him,'' Shurmur said Wednesday. ``He is our guy. It's not going to be perfect. It's not going to be perfect all the time.''

During a season in which rookie quarterbacks are making a major impact around the league, Weeden has yet to make a significant dent. He ranks behind fellow first-year starters Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill in many statistical categories and he trails them all in the thing that matters most - wins.

``I'm frustrated,'' Weeden said following practice. ``We've won two games. We've been in games when we've had a chance to win and we've come up short too many times. As a quarterback, that's frustrating. I feel like I need to do more to help this team win.''

Weeden still seemed upset about his uneven performance against the Ravens. He drove the Browns inside Baltimore's 20-yard line five times, but Cleveland couldn't get into the end zone and had to settle for five field goals from Phil Dawson in dropping its 10th straight game to one of its bitter AFC North enemies.

Weeden finished 20 of 37 for 176 yards and two interceptions, dropping his passer rating to 67.9 - the league's second-worst mark. He did throw one touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but it was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty. It's been that kind of season for Weeden, who has had more passes dropped than any other quarterback but he has also missed his share of wide-open receivers.

There were chances for big plays against Baltimore, but Weeden didn't make them. On Cleveland's second series, he overthrew running back Chris Ogbonnaya (on a play that was nullified by a penalty) and later missed tight end Benjamin Watson, who was streaking uncovered down the field for what could have been a long TD.

They were mistakes, Weeden's mistakes and he took the blame for them.

``When the guys are open, you have to make the throws,'' he said. ``And when they're open, you have to be routine with those. When they're wide open, you have to be 100 percent. You know I missed Obi. That's a wide-open throw. I've gotta make that. I missed Ben on a crossing route. Simple throw. I've gotta make that.

``Stuff like that, that's the stuff that eats away at me more than anything. It's guys that bust their tail to get open and I'm not able to give them a chance.''

While Shurmur attempted to put a positive spin on things, Weeden may have regressed some. He wasn't as accurate as he needed to be, and when the Browns did venture into Baltimore's red zone, Weeden did not throw a single pass into the end zone, but rather used his ``checkdowns'' and threw short.

He finished 3 of 6 for 8 yards inside the 20.

Weeden had to be careful with Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed lurking in coverage. He had to weigh risk vs. reward, and instead of gambling and possibly getting picked off, Weeden chose the safer course. He knows that if he had thrown an interception in those situations, fans and critics would have been tougher on him than they already are.

``I'm in a lose-lose,'' he said. ``So I check it down and hope to God that my backs can get a first down. If not, get a few yards and kick a field goal. But you've got to take shots. If they were there, if they were open, then I'll throw it. But they weren't open, so when guys aren't open, you can't force it, especially with No. 20 (Reed) back there. He's a game-changer.''

Shurmur feels Weeden has made huge strides since throwing four picks in the season opener against Philadelphia. Weeden seems to be learning from his mistakes, and not repeating them.

A former quarterbacks coach, Shurmur says it can be tough for players to take criticism when things aren't going well. He said that's not a problem for Weeden.

``He handles it fine, in a way that promotes learning,'' Shurmur said. ``He's very quick to say he made a mistake. That's where it's tough, when you have to convince a guy, `Hey listen, this was wrong.' That's when it's hard for a player to get better, if he won't admit that he screwed the thing up.''

Cleveland's bye came at a good time for Weeden and his teammates, many of whom are younger than him and could use a physical and mental vacation. It's a time for reflection, self-analysis and a chance to regroup before playing seven more games.

Weeden needs the break. There are still those who doubt him, vocal detractors who believe the Browns wasted a first-round pick on him and critics who feel Colt McCoy should be starting. Weeden has heard it all, and he's not surprised by any of it.

``When you're in a situation like I am, a first-round guy, starting quarterback, there's 31 other guys in this world that do what I do,'' he said. ``We're all under the same microscope. So they're just like I am. They don't let it get to them. They don't let it bother them.''

Has he blocked it out?

``Oh, yeah,'' he said. ``I'm way over that. Way past that.''

Weeden will spend a few days at home in Oklahoma, where he intends to play some golf and get away from the chill he's felt lately in Cleveland.

``75 and sunny, baby,'' he said.

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NOTES: Browns RB Trent Richardson, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in the past two games, said he'll be even better once his rib injury has fully healed. ``I haven't been at 100 percent yet so I'm waiting for that moment,'' he said. ``When they heal - I don't know if it will be over this bye week - but whenever it do, it's going to be a whole other Trent.'' ... Browns K Phil Dawson and DT Phil Taylor were excused from practice by Shurmur. ``The Phils are fine,'' he said.

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Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

The NFL announced today that tight end Darren Waller of the Baltimore Ravens would be suspended for a year or longer for his second violation of the substance abuse policy.

Waller was a 2015 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech who served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for a substance abuse violation. After returning from his suspension last year, he posted 10 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role.

After his 2016 violation, he was quoted as saying [via Ravens.com]:

“There were other personal issues, and [marijuana] was the one thing I always turned to,” Waller said. “It was just about finding more positive outlets for me to do, like talking to people about it and things like that. I’m definitely at a better place with that now.”

Unfortunately for the Ravens, he will miss the 2017 season and potentially longer after the latest violation. It leaves the Ravens down two tight ends from last year after Dennis Pitta was released earlier this month after re-injuring his hip.

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr considering coming out of retirement

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Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

In January of 2017, former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr took the podium at the team's training facility alongside head coach John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, to announce he would be retiring from football at the age of 24.

Why? Orr suffered a shoulder injury during their week 16 game against longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, which shed light into a condition he's had since birth.

He had a routine MRI, but the Ravens training staff suggested a full body CAT scan as well. The CAT scan reveled Orr had a congenital back/spine condition where one of the upper vertebra isn't totally formed causing there to be an opening. Less than 1 percent of people are born with such a condition and he wasn't aware of it until he suffered this injury.

Doctors told Orr he was at risk of paralysis or even death if he played with such a condition. He also would have never been able to pass an NFL physical, ultimately forcing him to retire.

During his press conference, Orr said this,

"If there's some miracle way where I can play the game, I promise I'd be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there," Orr said.

Well, fast forward to today and it seems that miracle may have happened.

NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo told Good Morning Football that after getting a second opinion from doctors, and receiving positive news, Orr is considering a return to the NFL.

"I had my mind made up. I was like man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I'm going to leave it alone. But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and come to find out my condition, it is rare – .01 percent of the people have what I have – but there's no actual evidence or facts that I'm at a higher risk than any other player. And it's actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems."

The doctors' real concerns would be if someone with Orr's spinal condition played with a herniated disk. He did suffer from herniated disks last season, but that injury has since diminished. 

MORE RAVENS: 2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

If Orr does decide to get back into the NFL, getting signed could be pretty easy. 

When he announced his retirement, he never filed for retirement papers and the Ravens never placed him on their reserve/retired list because they never thought he would play again.

Because of this, Orr is considered an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a team right away. 

Orr had his best season in 2016, where he lead the Ravens in tackles with 133. It's been reported that eight teams have reached out to the linebacker since his announcement and that he will be meeting with the Lions on Thursday.