|National Football League|
Browns QB Brandon Weeden has a cannon of an arm
By TOM WITHERS
BEREA, Ohio (AP) Clay pigeons became clay particles.
In the blink of an eye, Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden's powerful right arm turned the tiny targets into dust.
As he prepared for the NFL draft, Weeden recently took part in an experiment on an episode of ESPN's "Sports Science," where the former Oklahoma State star and one-time minor league baseball pitcher fired footballs at clay targets traveling at 43 mph.
During one stretch he downed four out of five, blasting the soaring projectiles into smithereens.
"Pretty impressive," said wide receiver Josh Cooper, Weeden's college teammate who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Browns. "It's hard to do that with a shotgun."
Weeden's got a cannon, and his major league arm was on display again Saturday as Cleveland's rookies continued their three-day minicamp with two practices.
The 28-year-old Weeden has shown he can throw any pass - any time. With a flick of his wrist, he has effortlessly flung the ball 55 yards down the field, stood tall in the pocket and delivered 15-yard sideline patterns to receivers in stride and showed nice touch in dumping balls off to running backs.
Weeden's arm strength has been well-documented, and not just by the TV science experiment. While in college, he dislocated two of Cooper's fingers with missiles over the middle.
"It's a tight spiral. It's coming fast and it's usually right on the money," said Cooper, who had 161 receptions for 1,696 yards and 11 touchdowns in college. "He can either fire it in there or put some touch on it. He's that kind of quarterback. He knows what to do with the ball."
The Browns selected Weeden with the No. 22 overall pick in last month's NFL draft, a selection that seemed to indicate the team is moving away from incumbent starter Colt McCoy, who has had two inconsistent seasons in Cleveland. And although coach Pat Shurmur maintains competition will determine the starter, Weeden's arm strength alone would appear to give him a huge edge over McCoy.
Weeden's ball whistles through the air.
Shurmur, who has coached Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford, said Weeden has an innate ability to sling the football.
"He is a very smooth thrower," he said. "He throws the ball easy and I think a guy that can throw the ball with a smooth motion, the ball presents itself to the receivers well. That helps them be more efficient catching it. I like what I've seen from him just in terms of throwing the football, for sure.
"His touch and accuracy are all part of it. It's kind of a natural thing, that they just know to take a little off of it because a guy's 5 yards away and then whether to put it on the right or left shoulder based on where the defender is so he can turn away from it, all things that we teach and we emphasize, but some guys kind of naturally get it."
Weeden has also shown he can execute on the move.
On one play during the morning workout, Weeden rolled to his left, and while he was on the run. leaped off one foot and still fired a perfect pass 20 yards to tight end Joseph Halahuni.
The play caught everyone's attention.
"Nice throw, Weeds," hollered assistant coach Nolan Cromwell.
Weeden's more than just an arm.
"He's got decent feet and he is naturally accurate," Shurmur said. "That is a natural component to his game and so it's just a matter of him getting used to how we do things and I think that accuracy will show."
Cooper joked that Weeden's athleticism is underrated.
"For how old he is," he said, laughing. "He's a very mobile quarterback."
For now, the Browns are interested in seeing Weeden as much as possible under center. In college, he lined up primarily in the shotgun. Other than a few dropped snaps, Weeden has looked very fluid while making three-, five- and seven-step dropbacks and firing the ball.
One of his primary targets the past two days has been Alabama fullback Brad Smelley, who has shown excellent hands and could be used in a variety of ways by the Browns. Smelley, too, has been impressed with Weeden's throwing ability.
"He throws a really catchable ball," Smelley said. "He's got some zip on it and he knows when to throttle down a pass if it's short or coming across the middle. He puts it where it needs to be."
Weeden said the clay pigeon challenge was more difficult than it appeared on TV.
"That was kind of a timing deal, it's like a slant," he said. "You try to get the ball and the clay pigeon to meet. I am not going to lie, the first one I threw I missed by about six feet because the timing was way off. Then I got closer and I think I hit my eighth one and as they showed I hit four out of five at one point.
"It was a lot tougher than I thought going in. They only had 100 clay pigeons so I was kind of nervous I wouldn't hit one. I was kind of sweating it."
Notes: RB Trent Richardson may be only 5-foot-9 but he cuts an imposing figure on the field. "Wow," Shurmur said of the No. 3 overall pick. "He's a very powerful man and he's powerfully built. Don't let the 5-9 fool you, he is almost 230 pounds and that is a lot of muscle packed into that body." ... The Browns signed eight of their 11 draft picks with Weeden, Richardson and linebacker Emmanuel Acho, a sixth-round pick, remaining unsigned. ... WR Bert Reed has had consecutive solid days of practice. Shurmur said the Florida State product, who caught 170 passes for the Seminoles, was a "high-priority" signing. ... Shurmur said Sunday's morning practice will focus on red-zone drills.
Updated May 12, 2012