Quick Links

Browns want Weeden to cut down on interceptions

Browns want Weeden to cut down on interceptions

BEREA, Ohio (AP) The numbers aren't good, at least not good enough. Brandon Weeden doesn't need anyone to tell him that.

The Browns rookie quarterback doesn't have to scan his statistics to know he has to play better. He's well aware that he's thrown too many interceptions, won too few games and has yet to convince Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and new CEO Joe Banner that he's the franchise's future.

Weeden understands he must improve. Just don't bother bringing it up.

``I'm not a moron,'' he said.

Following a bye week to rest his arm, relax his body and mentally block out the bad stuff from the season's first nine games, Weeden said Wednesday that he's determined to play at a higher level and lead the Browns to some victories in their last seven games.

Maybe because he's 29, Weeden isn't always viewed as a rookie, which may explain some of the criticism about his game.

``I think lost in all of this is that I'm a rookie,'' he said. ``I'm still playing teams for the first time. I'm still seeing things for the first time. I'm making a lot of mistakes that I'm making for the first time. I'm trying not to repeat them. But I'm not a nine or 10-year veteran.

``Some people might lose track of that sometimes. But it is what it is. I've got to play better. I've got to do my part to help this team win.''

And taking better care of the football should be his top priority.

Before practice, Browns coach Pat Shurmur made it clear there is one aspect of Weeden's game that needs immediate attention.

``Don't throw interceptions,'' he said. ``Done. End story. I want to be right to the point.''

Point taken.

Weeden has thrown 12 interceptions, tied for the NFL's second-highest total. The only QB to throw more picks is Dallas' Tony Romo, who will match up against Weeden on Sunday when the Browns (2-7) visit the Cowboys (4-5) looking to end an 11-game road losing streak.

Weeden concurred with Shurmur's candid and curt assessment that he needs to be smart with the football.

``That's kind of been my priority since I played Pee-Wee football,'' Weeden said. ``We never want to throw interceptions. My aggressive manor and mindset sometimes gets me in trouble. I'm not going to take that away from myself.

``I have to take care of the football. I have to cut down on them. I think guys that are aggressive like that, sometimes that's one category they unfortunately may have a couple more than they'd like. It's not good, but we're just being aggressive. Sometimes, making that aggressive throw, sometimes it catapults you and gets you momentum. You get a big throw and kind of spark a drive or something. I agree with him.''

The Browns' game before their bye was testament to Shurmur's evaluation of Weeden, who has completed 185 of 336 passes (55 percent) for 2,088 yards and nine touchdowns.

Weeden threw two interceptions during a 25-15 loss to Baltimore. Those miscues weren't particularly costly, but he failed to get the Browns into the end zone despite five possessions inside the Ravens' 20-yard line. There were some who theorized that Weeden played too cautiously in the red zone, perhaps because he was afraid to throw a pick with Ravens safety Ed Reed lurking.

Did the gunslinger get gun shy?

Weeden said he took what the Ravens gave him.

``If you go watch the tape, no one was open,'' he said. ``I made smart decisions down there. We were in the red zone and the balls I did throw, I did check down. Windows were small, but if I throw a pick there, you guys are asking me the same questions.

Weeden and Shurmur have discussed his decision making and interceptions, but it hasn't been a major point of emphasis during their talks.

``It's just common knowledge between the both of us, we know you can't turn the ball over,'' he said. ``It's in my forefront, but I don't let it get to the front of my mind, where I'm so paranoid about throwing interceptions that I don't take shots.''

Unable to work out a trade to move up and draft Robert Griffin III, the Browns selected Weeden with the No. 22 overall pick in April's draft. They ignored his age, dismissed the fact that he rarely took a snap under center in college and banked on him filling a position that has been unresolved for years.

Shurmur believes Weeden can become an ``outstanding player'' and to do that he needs ``to lead us to victories and don't throw interceptions.''

That will happen once Weeden starts making better choices.

``I've looked at all of those interceptions and there are times when he could've made better decisions,'' Shurmur said. ``There's, of course, things that have happened where a ball bounces off a guy's chest. So you look at all of those things. You don't want to play anxious football, but you also have to be smart.''

Last week, Banner said he and Haslam will use the rest of the season to decide if Weeden is indeed Cleveland's long-term answer at quarterback. If there wasn't enough pressure on Weeden already, Banner raised the heat level a few degrees.

Weeden, though, isn't sweating it. He's doesn't feel as if he's under fire.

``I would've expected him to say that,'' he said. ``They're taking over this organization and they're going to do the moves to help this team win and I obviously want to be the guy that they have a lot of confidence in going forward and I've got to play like it.

``I've got to go play well and keep the team growing and keep the team making better plays and let the rest kind of take care of itself.''

---

NOTES: Browns RB Trent Richardson is still not 100 percent but the bye week helped his rib cartilage injury. Richardson is close with Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, whose records he broke in high school. Richardson said they speak regularly and he has watched Smith on TV's ``Dancing With The Stars.'' Richardson said, ``He got moves, man.'' ... Browns TE Benjamin Watson was named the fourth captain for this week's game. .... Browns CB Joe Haden was limited in practice with an oblique injury but said he expects to play.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Harbaugh calls for changes to NFL preseason format

Harbaugh calls for changes to NFL preseason format

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh believes the NFL preseason needs to be shortened, and perhaps even eliminated.

This is more than a knee-jerk reaction to tight end Ben Watson suffering a season-ending torn Achilles injury Saturday night, or running back Kenneth Dixon suffering a knee injury, or Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffering a back injury Friday night. Harbaugh had already concluded that a four-game preseason schedule preseason was no longer worth the risk for players.

“It’s not a reaction to any injuries we had tonight, or anybody else had,” Harbaugh said, following Saturday night’s 30-9 victory over the Lions. “I know the league and the (NFL) Players Association is working very hard and trying to figure out ideas to work out the preseason.

“These guys playing in these preseason games – it’s tough and they’re not meaningful games. They are important to get better, and they improve us. But we football coaches can find ways to get our guys ready and get our players evaluated without the kind of risk that a game necessarily entails. I’m really hopeful that the union and the league can get together and do something that’s good for everybody – especially what’s good for the players and for the fans.”

Harbaugh indicated he would be in favor of expanding rosters, lengthening the regular season, and shortening the preseason.

“If you go more games, fewer preseason games, and bigger rosters, that’s good for everybody,” Harbaugh said.

Asked how many preseason games he would like to see, Harbaugh gave a definite answer.

“If I had my choice, I’d go none,” Harbaugh said. “That might be an extreme point, but we could run scrimmages, or we could run practices against other teams and figure it out. We’d all be in the same boat. That’s for people higher up than me to decide.”

RELATED: Ravens win game, but lose TE Watson for season

Quick Links

Gillmore: No panic despite thinning TE ranks

Gillmore: No panic despite thinning TE ranks

When the Ravens entered training camp, tight end was considered the deepest position on the team after the signing of veteran Ben Watson and the return of Dennis Pitta from two serious hip injuries.

But now, the Ravens are staring at the prospect of having just one healthy tight end for their Week 1 game against the Bills.

Watson suffered what is believed to be a season-ending Achilles injury on the first play of the Ravens preseason game Saturday night against the Lions, and Dennis Pitta (broken finger) and Maxx Williams (undisclosed) remain sidelined with injuries. Two other tight ends, Darren Waller and Nick Boyle must begin serving suspensions when the regular season starts – Waller four games and Boyle 10.

So of the top six tight ends on the depth chart, Crockett Gillmore is the only healthy one who will be on the roster for the Sept. 11 opener.

But Gillmore, who had one catch for 2 yards in the Ravens 30-9 win Saturday night, said no one is in panic mode.

MORE RAVENS: 3 OBSERVATIONS FROM FLACCO'S PRESEASON DEBUT

“This is an organization that has dealt with those kinds of things since I’ve been here, and we’ve always had guys step up,” Gillmore said.

Watson’s injury does have a painful ring of familiarity; the Ravens lost veterans Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith to season-ending Achilles injuries last year.

“It’s not like we’re sweating bullets around here,” Gillmore said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can play.”

The problem is, at least two of them – Waller and Boyle – can’t play early in the season. Pitta has been out with a broken finger sustained in a scuffle with Kamalei Correa in a stadium practice earlier this month, and Wiliams has missed the past two preseason games. Their availability for Week 1 remains uncertain.

Watson’s injury could open the door for Daniel Brown to make the team, at least until Waller’s suspension is over, depending on the progress of Pitta and Williams.

Another option might be to look to utilize fullback Kyle Juszczyk more often in a hybrid role.

 “That’s a versatile guy that can do everything,” Gillmore said.

“We’re not sweating,” Gillmore said. “We’ve got a bunch of receivers, too. We’ll make it work.”

Quick Links

Ravens win preseason game vs. Lions, but lose Watson for season

Ravens win preseason game vs. Lions, but lose Watson for season

BALTIMORE – Five instant observations from the Ravens’ 30-9 preseason win over the Lions, which made the Ravens 3-0 this preseason:

1. Ben Watson’s season-ending Achilles injury made this victory hollow:

The veteran tight end was lost on the first play from scrimmage, and his season was lost before he ever played a regular season game for the Ravens. Football can be cruel.

2.  Rookie running back Kenneth Dixon’s knee injury could be another blow.

It was announced that Dixon had a sprained left knee, but he was helped off the field, and no timetable was given for his return. It would not be surprising if an MRI is forthcoming. If so, many people will be holding their breath.

MORE RAVENS: DEEPER LOOK AT FLACCO'S PRESEASON DEBUT

3. Rookie pass rusher Matt Judon looks ready to have an immediate impact.

Judon had a strip-sack on another active night. At the very least, Judon looks like could have an immediate role as a situational pass rusher.

4. Linebacker-safety Anthony Levine could be the Ravens’ most improved player.

Levine had an athletic interception, and he has made a successful transition to playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Last week, Levine picked off a pass on a two-point conversion attempt against the Colts and took it to the house. Levine’s ability to line up in multiple spots, and to make plays, could make the Ravens’ defense more versatile and less predictable.

5.  Wide receiver Jeremy Butler keeps making plays.

I know it’s preseason, and I know the Ravens are deep at wide receiver. But I think they have to keep Jeremy Butler. He had his second touchdown catch of the preseason, he can contribute on special teams, and he caught 31 passes last season. I see the Ravens keeping seven receivers - Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore, and Butler.