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Browns' Weeden recovers from dismal debut

Associated Press Modified: September 19, 2012 at 6:17 pm •  Published: September 19, 2012
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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Brandon Weeden can be social again.

One week after a dismal NFL debut drove the Browns rookie quarterback underground, causing him to avoid all media and forcing him to stay up late studying game tape to see what he did wrong in his first game as a pro, Weeden can show his face in public without shame.

After throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati on Sunday, Weeden doesn't have to hide.

In fact, he's even back on Twitter, a place he didn't dare visit last week.

"There's been a lot of positive responses," he said, "and I've responded back to some people."

Weeden's confidence is high following his performance in Sunday's 34-27 loss, which eased some of the sting from his four-interception, 5.1-rating debacle in Week 1 against Philadelphia.

Weeden completed 26 of 37 passes (70 percent) and finished with a 114.9 rating against the Bengals while setting a Browns rookie record for most passing yards in a game.

According to STATS LLC, Weeden's improvement of 109.8 in passer rating over a two-game span is the sixth highest by any quarterback since 2000.

But beyond the huge jump in his numbers, Weeden showed he could take a punch and keep fighting. If there was any concern about his ability to bounce back, there isn't anymore.

"It just shows me that I can play at this level," he said Wednesday.

It's not that Weeden ever doubted his ability, but there were those outside the Browns (0-2) who began to wonder if the team made a mistake in selecting the 28-year-old former minor league pitcher in the first round of this year's draft. But those worries seemed valid after Weeden looked so unsure and almost frightened against the Eagles.

Weeden took it upon himself to make things better.

He stayed off social media sites, and avoided sports talk radio, TV and newspapers in the wake of his poor showing in the opener. Weeden joked that he "didn't let the nation tell me how bad I played." He also spent last week watching game film, falling asleep one night at home while viewing some highlights on his iPad.

"My wife gives me a hard time because I can't stay awake in movies," Weeden cracked. "I guess I can't stay awake watching film either."

But the extra work paid off, and Weeden responded by lighting up the Bengals. This weekend, he'll try to do the same against the Bills (1-1).

His tight spirals impressed his teammates, so did his tenacity.

"It's cool just to see him have success because he's one of us," said wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, who had five catches for 90 yards at Cincinnati. "You always wish success to one of your teammates and a guy like that. But just his mental toughness after he took so much flak from his first game. He didn't play as well as he wanted to, and he said he was going to come back and play a good game and he did.

"I think that's just a scratch of what he's going to do, and what he's capable of doing."

Weeden's turnaround can also be attributed to his willingness to accept criticism. Maybe because Weeden is more mature than the average rookie, Browns coach Pat Shurmur said he's not afraid to point out mistakes to his QB.

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