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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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Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

The concussion suffered last year by Rams quarterback Case Keenum against the Ravens, and the way it was handled, surely played a part in new punishment announced Monday by the NFL for teams violating the league’s concussion protocol.

The Players Association and the league made a joint announcement about the new standards.

Under the new policy, teams could be fined anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 for a first violation of the concussion protocol, or suffer loss of draft picks. For a second violation, the minimum fine will be $100,000.

Major concerns about enforcing in-game concussion protocol were raised during a November game last year at M&T Bank Stadium between the Rams and Ravens.

With just over a minute left to play, Ravens defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan sacked Keenum, and the back of his head slammed violently against the turf. Keenum held his head while lying on the ground and initially had trouble getting to his feet.  

The Rams’ athletic trainer ran onto the field to check on Keenum, but he remained in the game. Keenum fumbled two plays later, and after the game, it was announced he had suffered a concussion.

The league investigated the Rams’ handling of the situation and the team was not fined. However, not everyone was satisfied, including NFLPA president Eric Winston.

“Show me someone that says, ‘No, the Rams did exactly the right thing,”’ Winston told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year. “They didn’t. Everybody knows they didn’t.  So there has to be discipline, right? Because when a player doesn’t do something that he’s supposed to do, he gets fined for that when it comes to health and safety.”

As a result, the NFL and the Players Association have agreed on punishment that could help protect players who have been concussed.

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New commercial shows Flacco should just buy cars, not sell them

New commercial shows Flacco should just buy cars, not sell them

Fortunately for Joe Flacco, he was born with an arm meant for chucking footballs prodigious distances and a body destined to stand in an NFL pocket. That's because — if he wasn't in possession of these gifts and didn't have the work ethic to put them to good use — he may not be cut out for everyday life and a typical job.

Last year, a Pepsi and Tostitos commercial came out and showed that the Ravens quarterback was clueless when it came to party throwing. A recent Ford ad, meanwhile, is demonstrating that No. 5 should stick to purchasing vehicles as opposed to selling them.

Here's the spot in its entirety:

Trying to convince someone to buy a car because it's "like two motorcycles stuck together" is not exactly the best selling point. As the commercial concludes, letting Flacco focus on the field and the professionals take care of everything else is the most ideal use of everyone's time.

RELATED: RAVENS SHOULD CONSIDER A RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE APPROACH

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NFL great Jim Brown worked with league to reinstate Josh Gordon

NFL great Jim Brown worked with league to reinstate Josh Gordon

Jim Brown, one of the greatest NFL players of all time, has been actively involved in trying to rehabilitate the career of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon.

In his role as a special advisor with the team, Brown has been in contact with Gordon, who was conditionally reinstated by the NFL on Monday.

Gordon has been suspended 27 of the Browns’ last 32 games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The league announced Monday that Gordon would still be suspended the first four games of the 2016 season, but could be reintstated Week 5.

Gordon can join the Browns when they begin training camp Thursday, and participate in team meetings and activities. If Gordon meets all of the league’s behavior requirements during his suspension, he can return in Week 5. He will miss the Ravens-Browns game Week 2 in Cleveland, but could Gordon could face the Ravens when they host the Browns in Week 10.

Gordon is an extraordinary talent, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013, with 1,646 yards in just 14 games. Plenty of people, including Brown, are hoping Gordon has finally put his problems behind him.

“I’ve talked with Josh twice on the phone, and the last time I talked with him he sounded very motivated and I think he was in rehab and feeling good about it and discovering some things about himself,” Brown told Cleveland.com. “He really seemed ready to take responsibility for himself.”

Robert Griffin III and all the Browns’ quarterbacks will certainly be glad to see Gordon in camp. Ironically, Gordon’s 2016 debut could come against the Patriots in Week 5, who will also be expecting quarterback Tom Brady to return from his four-game suspension for Deflategate.