What To Expect From Brandon Weeden?


Four years ago, the Ravens started a big, strong-armed rookie quarterback named Joe Flacco.

Head Coach John Harbaugh remembers the beginning of that experience.

"The challenge is that they (rookies) haven't seen anything," Harbaugh said. "It's the first time for everything, so you don't know how they're going to respond, and they don't know how they are going to respond."

That also means their opponent doesn't know how they'll respond.

That's the case this week as the Ravens prepare for rookie Browns starting quarterback Brandon Weeden. The first-round pick has flashed a bit of everything so far in his young season. There's potential, but also mistakes.

Weeden was 12-of-35 for 118 yards and four interceptions in Week 1 against Philadelphia, leaving his NFL debut with a quarterback rating of 5.1. Seven days later, he connected on 26 of his 37 passes for 22 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, a quarterback rating of 114.9.

"You see he still has a lot to learn," Ravens safety Ed Reed said. "That's with any rookie quarterback coming into the league. But you can see that he can throw every ball."

The Ravens faced one of the game's best signal callers this past Sunday night in Tom Brady. Now they'll get a rookie backpedaling from a comment that it was "a solid day" following a 24-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills in which he threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter.

"Obviously he's probably not as equipped as a Tom Brady," linebacker Jameel McClain added. "But he's still a great player."

Weeden has the tools to challenge Baltimore's pass defense, which has yielded 289.7 passing yards per game so far this season.

The 28-year-old rookie threw for 4,277 yards as a junior and 4,727 yards as a senior at Oklahoma State. He engineered a prolific offense there, and has shown flashes of that ability at the next level.

But the question is whether he's mentally ready for Baltimore's complex defense, which requires opposing quarterbacks to make difficult reads.

"He has a strong arm. I think he's a smart guy. He's a big guy, can see the field real well," Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said of the 6-foot-3 Weeden.

"When he makes a mistake, he just makes maybe a bad read or something. If he has his read down and he's got his feet set, he can throw the ball pretty good."

The Browns, who have gone through a carousel of starting quarterbacks the last several years, invested a lot in Weeden.

Weeden was largely considered a late-first to high second-round pick. The Browns, who were players in trade talks to move up and get Robert Griffin III, jumped on Weeden at pick No. 22 overall.

He's been paired with rookie running back Trent Richardson in Cleveland's effort to jumpstart an offense that has lacked playmaking ability over the past several years.

It's a move similar to what Baltimore did in 2008 with Flacco and running back Ray Rice, who were first- and second-round picks, respectively.

But when asked if he had any advice for Weeden, Flacco declined.

"I don't really care to give him any [advice]," Flacco said. "I'm sure he's learning and figuring it out on his own. There's nothing I can really tell him."

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