Browns QB Weeden has sprained thumb, may miss time

By TOM WITHERS - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-16 17:26

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden's thumb is only sprained.

Cleveland's offense is broken, and in need of quick repair.

Weeden injured his thumb in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 14-6 loss at Baltimore and will probably miss this week's game when the Browns (0-2) visit Minnesota.

Coach Rob Chudzinski said the team will wait and see how Weeden's injury responds over the next few days, but he seemed to be leaning toward starting either backup Jason Campbell or third-stringer Brian Hoyer.

Campbell filled in for one series - he went 1 of 4 for 6 yards - after Weeden got hurt when he smacked his hand on a helmet after throwing a pass.

However, Chudzinski said he will consider starting Hoyer, who has been No. 3 on Cleveland's depth chart since the start of training camp, against the Vikings.

``I'm going to keep all of our options open,'' Chudzinski said, perhaps to keep the Vikings guessing.

``We have two options - Jason and Brian. I'm confident in all the guys that we have. We'll put the guy out there that I feel like is going to give us the best chance on Sunday if it's not Brandon.''

Weeden was not available in the locker room during the period it was open to reporters on Monday.

The second-year QB, who has already been sacked 11 times this season, was scheduled to undergo an MRI.

X-rays taken following Sunday's game were negative and Weeden left the stadium with a large brace on his hand.

It's possible he could miss a few games, but a local radio report that Weeden could miss the majority of the season was refuted by Chudzinski, through a team spokesman.

Weeden finished 21 of 33 for 227 yards against the Ravens, but Cleveland's offense sputtered for the second week in a row. The Browns missed chances to make big plays, none bigger than when Weeden missed running back Chris Ogbonnaya wide open down the left sideline.

If Weeden had connected on the play, Ogbonnaya may have scored the go-ahead touchdown - only the Browns' second TD in two weeks.

If Weeden's out, Campbell or Hoyer will get the chance to ignite an offense that has been a huge disappointment so far.

Chudzinski's inclusion of Hoyer as a possible substitute is a bit surprising since Campbell is more experienced and has taken more repetition in practice. Campbell, who has made 71 career starts for Washington, Oakland and Chicago, said he's comfortable with whatever his role might be.

``We're all on the same team. Whatever the situation is you have to be a pro and that's how I approach it,'' he said. ``I'll just continue to keep pushing forward and striving to help guys around me to become better, and at the same time just worry about trying to do my job.''

Hoyer started one game for Arizona last season and has spent his first few months with Cleveland preparing himself for the chance he might play.

``When you're a quarterback in this league, you never know when your name's going to get called,'' said the Cleveland native. ``So I study the same amount of film, I go out and practice and even if I'm not taking the reps, I'm taking a mental rep every play and that's the way I approach this job.''

Chudzinski believes Cleveland's offensive problems are fixable, and the Browns should get a huge lift this week with the return of top wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was suspended for the first two games after failing the NFL's drug policy.

Gordon was punished for a positive codeine test he said was in his cough syrup prescription. He confirmed that if he fails another test, he will be facing a one-year banishment.

``I feel like it's a last chance opportunity for the league,'' said Gordon, who caught 50 passes for 805 yards and five scores as a rookie. ``Nobody wants a problematic-type of person in their program or organization because of how it's perceived to be. I definitely want to stay away from any controversy as long as I can forever.

``That's definitely my No. 1 priority.''

Gordon said the suspension, along with a recent speeding ticket, have helped him understand that he's risking too much to get in trouble.

``It's a humbling experience,'' he said. ``You find an appreciation for the game. The absence of it makes the heart grow fonder in a sense. That's really what it's about for me right now.''

Gordon was modest about how his return will impact Cleveland's offense, but both Campbell and Hoyer said having the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder on the field is a major plus.

``He's a huge difference,'' Campbell said. ``He's a big target. He's a big guy. He's a big part of what we do offensively. Not having him out there, definitely hurts a little bit, because he is a big part of what we do. So it'll be good to get him back, get him going, try to get him back into a rhythm.''

NOTES: Guard Shawn Lauvao has been running and could be close to a return after undergoing ankle surgery. ``I'm battling my butt off to come back,'' said Lauvao, who was involved in a single-car accident earlier Monday. ``I will see how it feels and do what they tell me to do.'' ... Browns rookie LB Barkevious Mingo was excited about his NFL debut after sitting out the opener as he recovered from a bruising lung. He sacked Ravens QB Joe Flacco on his first play, batted down a pass and nearly blocked a punt. ``It took some time to get back in shape, but for the most part I've been feeling fine, no health-related problems,'' Mingo said. ``I've been running good, feeling good, breathing good.''


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

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