EDMOND — Brandon Weeden can easily recall the two “Welcome to the NFL” moments he experienced as a rookie starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns this past season.
One came against Green Bay, when a hit the former Oklahoma State star took from a Packer linebacker — he can't remember who — knocked the wind out of him so badly that the Browns were called for a false start on the next play because he couldn't yell out the cadence at the line of scrimmage.
The other came when Ray Lewis laid a monster blow on him on Thursday Night Football in Baltimore and then stood silently over him.
Weeden, who was the keynote speaker at Oklahoma Christian's Athletics Hall of Fame dinner Friday night, chatted with reporters about his first NFL season, his future in Cleveland with an overhauled coaching staff and front office and OSU's quarterback carousel.
What's the biggest thing you learned in your rookie season?
“Those guys are really good. It's a very challenging league. There's so much preparation that goes in. Basically, when you're done on Sunday afternoon, you're already thinking about next week and trying to prepare. You've got to come in Monday morning kind of having a feel for what the other team does. It's nonstop. This is our job. We don't go to school anymore. We get paid to do this. They expect us to be more prepared, or as prepared, as the coaches. There's so much time that goes into each week. And if you don't prepare, if you just kind of go through the motions, you'll get exposed. Even if you do prepare, sometimes you get exposed, because those guys are so good.”
What was the most challenging part?
“I think adversity. At Oklahoma State, I faced adversity one time, really, with that loss to Iowa State. Other than that, we lost to Oklahoma and we lost to Nebraska when I was a starter, two really good football teams. Not winning consistently is challenging. It'll really test you as a person. To come to the building on Monday morning after losing games like we did is not a good feeling and a feeling that we don't want from here on out.”
Does all the change on the Browns' coaching staff and front office make you uneasy about keeping the starting quarterback job?
“You just have to understand it's part of the business. In college, it's one thing. (With the NFL), you're talking about a multibillion dollar corporation, essentially. There's going to be changes. Obviously, we've already seen some. The guys that drafted me are no longer there. I fully expect there to be competition. I want competition. I want to go into camp and compete. If I had won 10-11 games last year, it may not be the case, but we weren't able to get that done. I expect competition. I'm eager to get started.”
What are your thoughts on what OSU was able to do on offense this season, despite a revolving door at quarterback?
“I've never seen anything like it. That was impressive by all three of the guys that played. It's not easy to play at that level, especially when you're not getting many reps or coming off the bench. When Wes (Lunt) went down, J.W. (Walsh) came in and didn't miss a beat. And that goes back to coaching. Coach (Todd) Monken gets those guys prepared to play every Saturday. Obviously, we all know that those three guys have different qualities as a quarterback, but Coach Monken found a way to call plays to put those guys in position, to put that offense in position to win and succeed.”
Did you ever talk to Clint Chelf about it? You two became close at OSU.
“He called me a couple times, but mainly just text messages back and forth. Same with J.W. I congratulated him after his first win and those types of things. Me and Clint became pretty close when I was there, so I think he kind of felt like he could rely on me if he needed advice, before he was even playing, and stuff like that. He's a good kid and a guy that I think came in and faced a lot of adversity, but he was able to overcome it and prove a lot of people wrong. I was in the same boat. I was a third-stringer. You're not excited about the position you're in, but the only thing you can do to overcome it is to go out on the field and get it done. That's what he did.”