Weeden: Picks 'an ego thing'

TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer Published:

BEREA (AP) -- Five games, nine interceptions and numerous other mistakes into his NFL career, Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden finally realizes he can't throw the ball the way he did in college.

There's no room for recklessness in the pros.

Weeden gets that now.

"It's an ego thing," he said. "I just need to get rid of the ego and take what they give me and move on and not be as stubborn. Just throw the football away and move on."

Weeden knows he must be less risky for the Browns (0-5) to have any chance of snapping their 11-game losing streak dating to last season. The first-round pick, who turns 29 on Sunday when Cleveland hosts the Cincinnati Bengals, has thrown costly interceptions the past two weeks.

Blessed with a powerful right arm, Weeden has always been able to fling the ball whenever he wanted and wherever he wanted. At Oklahoma State, no window was too tight for Weeden, who would simply load up and fire the ball to receivers.

But in trying to do the same thing with the Browns, the former minor league pitcher has made errors -- costly ones that have hurt the Browns chances to win.

He's inexperienced, but that's not an excuse for carelessness.

"I've played five games, I can't play the rookie card. It's long gone," Weeden said. "When you're in college and guys are open all the time, it's easy to be aggressive. In this league not everybody's open."

Weeden threw two interceptions in last week's 41-27 loss to the Giants. The first one, on a 3rd-and-1 play in the second quarter, triggered an avalanche of points for New York, which turned a 10-point deficit into a 10-point halftime lead. Weeden failed to throw the ball to Jordan Norwood in the flat for a potential first down and then threw high and wide to rookie Josh Gordon and was picked.

If Weeden had just held onto the ball, run it out of bounds or thrown it into the bleachers, the Browns could have settled for a field goal. Instead, Weeden's mistake was magnified when the Browns fumbled a kickoff and it wasn't long before they were walking to the locker room losing after leading 14-0.

Weeden wishes he could have it back.

"Just throw it out of bounds and let Phil (Dawson) kick the field goal and move on," Weeden said. "Since Sunday I've watched every game we've played so far. Just areas where I can throw the football away and move on to the next play."

He's learning the hard way, but the Browns are just pleased he's learning.

Weeden has improved each week. He's reading defenses much better and he's done a good job of sensing pressure and throwing ball before trouble arrives. He still has a gunslinger's mentality, but Weeden is beginning to understand that there's nothing noble about a turnover.

"There's a fine line between being aggressive and being overly aggressive," Weeden said. "Yeah, it's difficult because I want to make a play. I want big-chunk plays, I want explosive plays. We have the personnel to throw it and I'm able to make those throws. You don't want to take away from the aggressiveness, but at the same time you've got to be smart."

Jackson back after concussion

BEREA-- Browns starting linebacker D'Qwell Jackson has returned to practice after missing time with a concussion.

Jackson sustained a head injury in Sunday's loss to the Giants. Jackson, the only player in the NFL with two interceptions and two sacks, appears on track to play Sunday as the Browns (0-5) host Cincinnati. Jackson recorded three sacks and a pick when the Browns lost to the Bengals last month.

Linebacker Scott Fujita was not on the field Thursday during the 15 minutes open to reporters. Fujita is listed on the injury report with a shoulder issue.

Also, the Browns' wide receiving corps has been thinned by injuries. Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), Travis Benjamin (hamstring) and Jordan Norwood (foot) all remain sidelined.

Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin is also out with a lower leg injury.

Bills riddled with problems

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Buffalo Bills' horrendous defense over the last two games isn't the only problem.

The Ryan Fitzpatrick-led offense has been inconsistent, at best, and now features an injury-depleted line that is expected to be down some starters this weekend.

From bad to worse.

Indeed, when the Bills (2-3) face Arizona (4-1) on Sunday, they will be short-handed and searching for answers. Guard Chad Rinehart has a calf injury and did not practice Wednesday, and left tackle Cordy Glenn and guard Kraig Urbik are both recovering from right ankle injuries,

As it stands, Buffalo, which is training all week at Arizona State, is down to just six offensive lineman.

In the Bills' first three games, the team averaged 29 points per contest. In their last six quarters, Buffalo has been outscored 90-17. In the 45-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday, they registered just 10 first downs and 204 yards offense. That was the worst since managing six first downs and 162 yards in a 2010 season-ending 38-7 loss at the Jets.

Troubles mount for Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The defense is giving up big chunks of yardage -- again. Injuries are piling up. Even the offense, which has carried the Green Bay Packers the last two years, is suspect.

A year after opening the season 13-0, the Packers are in danger of letting the season get away from them. At 2-3 (yes, that includes that loss in Seattle that wasn't really a loss), they face something of a must-win game Sunday night when they play the unbeaten Houston Texans.

"It's a bit too early" to say that, defensive tackle B.J. Raji said. "A lot of the talk -- people are used to seeing us win, and they're never used to seeing us in this position. It's just human for most people to think it's a must-win game.

"It's a big one," Raji added. "We want to have it, and hopefully we can come out with something good."

The Packers' early struggles may seem like a shock, coming just two years after their Super Bowl run and on the heels of last year's 15-1 regular-season record. But Green Bay has lost five of its last nine games dating back to last season and, if you look closely, signs were there that trouble was coming.

Though the Packers had an NFL-best 31 interceptions last year and tied for the league lead with 38 total takeaways, they also gave up an NFL-high 6,585 yards of offense, more than 410 yards per game. They're somewhat improved this year, but the 344 yards a game they're allowing still put them in the bottom half of the NFC.

They gave up 464 yards last weekend alone, including 362 yards passing to Indianapolis Colts rookie Andrew Luck.

'Unnecessary' hit

HOUSTON -- Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said Thursday the block by New York Jets guard Matt Slauson that ended Houston linebacker Brian Cushing's season was "unnecessary."

Cushing tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the second quarter of the Texans' 23-17 win Monday night on a low, rolling hit by Slauson. He walked off the field on his own, but didn't return to the game. He was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

"I thought it was unnecessary," Phillips said. "Whether it was legal or not, all that stuff -- I think it's just unnecessary to hit a defensive player when he can't see you."

Slauson was not penalized on the play, but a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that he has been fined $10,000 by the NFL. Another person with knowledge of the situation told the AP that Slauson will appeal the fine. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the league doesn't announce fines until Fridays.

Cowboys losing turnover battle

IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys have done a lot of giving this season.

That is good in charity, not when you're a team trying to win in the NFL.

With his five interceptions in the last game, Romo has already been picked off eight times this season. That's seven more interceptions than opposing quarterbacks have thrown against the Cowboys (2-2), and it accounts for the team's minus-7 turnover margin.

While it would be easy to blame Romo for that, especially since he also has two lost fumbles, the Cowboys' defense isn't really forcing turnovers.

Linebacker Sean Lee has the Cowboys' only interception, a pick at Tampa Bay's 23 that set up their only touchdown drive in a 16-10 victory. Dallas has recovered three fumbles, but one of those was Orie Lemon falling on a muffed punt against the Buccaneers.

Quinn will start for Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel has been ruled out for Sunday's game at Tampa Bay with a concussion, and Brady Quinn will start an NFL game for the first time since the 2009 season.

Coach Romeo Crennel said Thursday that doctors have not cleared Cassel after he was hurt in the 9-6 loss to Baltimore last Sunday. Cassel has only spent a short period of time at the practice facility this week and it's unclear how long he might be out.

Vick a dog owner again

PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Vick is a dog owner again.

Vick, who served 18 months in federal prison on dogfighting charges, confirmed Thursday that his family has a dog. The Philadelphia Eagles' four-time Pro Bowl quarterback refused to discuss the topic just a day earlier.

"I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family's decision to care for a pet," Vick said in a statement. "As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals. I want to ensure that my children establish a loving bond and treat all of God's creatures with kindness and respect. Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family."

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