BEREA - The Browns won't have to deal with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick tonight, but they won't be so lucky on Sept. 9.
Vick will sit out tonight's preseason game against the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium with sore ribs. It's likely that Vick will miss the Eagles' final preseason game, against the New York Jets, to make sure he's healthy when the Browns and Eagles open the regular season in Cleveland.
The decision Browns coach Pat Shurmur has to make tonight is how much he'll play the starters, including rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. Whatever Shurmur decides, it's doubtful the Browns will show much against an opponent they'll see in a little more than two weeks.
With training camp having officially ended Wednesday, Shurmur will balance the need to continue developing young players like Weeden against keeping them healthy for the season.
"I still like to think we're in training camp mode, but we're progressing in a way that I visualized," Shurmur said. "I think what's important now is we play these preseason games with great energy, great passion and try to put a bunch of good plays together."
Through two games Weeden has completed 15-of-29 passes for 180 yards and one interception. There was a noticeable improvement from the first to the second game as his time on the field increased from three possessions to an entire half.
"I'm not where I need to be, but I'm still making steps in the right direction," Weeden said. "There's just a comfort level. There's a confidence level/comfort level playing quarterback, especially in this system and in this league. I think it takes some time. I wasn't stressing out over what was going to happen. I was going to continue to learn. I think, moving forward in the right direction, I feel pretty good with where I'm at."
The question that keeps facing Weeden concerns the chemistry he's trying to develop with the receivers. That goal has been hurt because of injuries to receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin. Josh Gordon has remained healthy, but he's a rookie that missed all of last season sitting out at Utah because of off-the-field issues and arrived here late after being awarded to the Browns in a supplemental draft.
"Obviously, I think it takes time," Weeden said. "You look at Josh Gordon. You look at him a month ago to where he's at today. He's finishing plays. He's running full speed. I mean he's come a long way. He didn't have OTAs to get a head start like all of us other guys.
"You have Mo (Massaquoi) and Greg (Little) and all these other guys. We get Ben (Watson) back at tight end. We have so many weapons at our disposal, but it just takes time. It takes reps. It takes confidence. They have to have confidence running the route most importantly, and I have to have confidence pulling the trigger."
The offense will again be without first-round draft choice Trent Richardson at running back. Richardson is close to returning to the field after undergoing minor knee surgery 15 days ago. Massaquoi and Watson also might not play.
The defense will be without cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who suffered what appeared to be a serious ankle injury against the Detroit Lions. Linebacker Scott Fujita won't play, but it appears end Frostee Rucker, tackle Ahtyba Rubin and middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson will be back from injuries.
Rookie linebackers James-Michael Johnson and L.J. Fort, along with second-year linebacker Craig Robertson, have played well in the absence of Jackson, Fujita and Chris Gocong, who's out for the season.
"He (Johnson) is a student of the game," Jackson said of the fourth-round draft choice. "Anytime you have a young kid who comes in, knows his role, wants to get better and always asks questions, it's always a good sign to start off like that."