Quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell threw passes side by side as the Cleveland Browns opened their first minicamp of the season.
The 29-year-old Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft, is the incumbent and started 15 games last year. Campbell, 31, was signed as a free agent on March 26 after appearing in six games last season with the Bears.
Eighteen quarterbacks have started games for the Cleveland Browns since they returned to the NFL in 1999. Weeden plans on keeping the job.
“I want to compete, and having Jason here is better for everyone involved because we’ll push each other,” Weeden said. “This is probably the biggest year of my career because I’ve got to show that I can play at this level and make adjustments.
“Now that it’s my second year here, it’s my time to take control and be the guy. They’re not going to stick me out there if they don’t think I’m the guy who can win games.”
New Browns coach Rob Chudzinski is overseeing the three-day voluntary minicamp at the franchise’s training facility after being hired as Cleveland’s 14th full-time head coach on Jan. 10.
The minicamp opened one day after FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents executed four search warrants at the Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters of Pilot Flying J, whose CEO is new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III.
“Obviously, I don’t know too much about what’s going on with that,” Chudzinski said. “I’ve got enough on my plate. Nothing has changed about what we’re doing here.”
Haslam echoed that sentiment, relaying his conversation with the Browns’ football braintrust.
“They said, ‘Is everything OK?’ and I said, ‘Hey, we’re great,”’ Haslam said, adding that he plans on traveling to Cleveland “to participate in draft preparation” on Thursday and Friday.
The Browns’ draft preparation will likely include lengthy discussions about quarterbacks Geno Smith of West Virginia, Ryan Nassib of Syracuse, and EJ Manuel of Florida State. Cleveland has the No. 6 pick in the first round, and Banner has repeatedly avoided naming Weeden the franchise’s long-term solution at the position.
Weeden, though, remains unfazed by it all. During the winter, the former New York Yankees farmhand worked out with another pro baseball-to-football quarterback in Chris Weinke, honing specific skills.
“Chris and I have a lot in common, so it worked out well,” Weeden said. “We spent a lot of time speeding up my feet and eliminating the pat (of the football) that I fell into last season. Those things should improve my accuracy, which I know has to get better.”
Thaddeus Lewis is the only other quarterback on the roster, but has just one NFL game under his belt.
Weeden passed for a Browns rookie-record 3,385 yards, but only completed 57.4 percent of his throws and tossed 17 interceptions to 14 touchdowns.