Bears

Cleveland Browns name their starting QB

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Cleveland Browns name their starting QB

From Comcast SportsNet
BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Brandon Weeden won the Browns' starting quarterback job without playing a game. Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur announced what had been an open secret after practice on Monday: Weeden, the No. 22 overall pick, will start Friday night in Detroit. "Brandon is the starter and we're moving forward," Shurmur said. "We're rolling and I'm not looking back." Weeden has taken snaps with Cleveland's first-team offense throughout training camp. He was pleased by the decision. "I busted my tail for 10 practices now and put in a lot of work," Weeden said. "I've had my ups and downs. We play Friday. My job is to get the team playing better and win games ... starting Friday." Incumbent starter Colt McCoy is now competing with 10-year veteran Seneca Wallace for the backup job. "I sat down with all three guys separately and told them," Shurmur said. "Colt was very professional. Disappointed, but he handled it well." McCoy believes he showed improvement, but has come to grips with the direction Cleveland is headed toward. "Guys," he said, "it is what it is. I worked so hard and I felt so good. Every day, I approach my job as a professional. I get here early and am the last guy to leave." The 25-year-old then went to pose for pictures with fans and sign autographs. A year ago, McCoy started the first 13 games before being inactive the last three with a concussion as Cleveland (No. 30 in the AP Pro32) finished 4-12. He was victimized by a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison during a 14-3 loss in Pittsburgh. A dazed McCoy went back in after sitting out only two plays. Trainers attending to other hurt players were unaware of McCoy's distress. That led to a league policy now requiring teams to have a certified athletic trainer in the press box to monitor play and help medical staffs evaluate injuries. Cleveland went 0-3 with Wallace as the starter down the stretch. Now, Shurmur likes the progress displayed by all of the team's passers. "I feel better about the quarterback position," he said. "We've got two guys here who can be number two. To me, it is a win-win situation." Wallace took some snaps with the second-string offensive unit Monday, but Shurmur said McCoy likely would be first off the bench against the Lions. Weeden said officially being No. 1. won't make him change his daily approach, though he is getting more comfortable working with veterans like All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack. "I'm getting in the huddle and joking with guys now. The chemistry is great," said Weeden, a 28-year-old rookie from Oklahoma State. "But it is all about wins and losses. I've got to show I'm the best guy to get wins." Weeden will likely play one quarter against the Lions. He's eager to play more. "Every rep is vital," he said. "You can't get enough of them. You see guys in the league 12, 14 years like Peyton Manning, and they take as many as they can. I take every single one and learn." Shurmur is confident Weeden will be able to guide Cleveland's west coast-style offense. The strong-armed former pitcher in the New York Yankees' minor-league system, has looked sharp throughout camp. Monday, he regularly found receivers on deep sideline patterns, routes that are generally acknowledged to be the toughest to complete. "He gets with the program, he's accurate," Shurmur said. "He's wired right to play the position." NOTES: Shurmur moved Tuesday's practice back about six hours to the afternoon so that he and others on Cleveland's staff can attend morning memorial services in Philadelphia for Garrett Reid, son of Eagles coach Andy Reid. Shurmur, a former assistant to Reid, expressed his sorrow over the death of the coach's 29-year-old son. Browns GM Tom Heckert, and four Cleveland assistants also worked with Reid in Philadelphia. ... LB Marcus Benard walked off with an undisclosed injury. "I don't know what happened, but at least he walked off," said Shurmur. Benard missed the final 12 games a year ago after getting hurt in a motorcycle crash. ... LB Chris Gocong was seen in the parking lot, on crutches. Gocong tore his right Achilles tendon Saturday and is out for the season.

Charles Leno, Jr. on Harry Hiestand: 'He's getting us better'

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USA Today

Charles Leno, Jr. on Harry Hiestand: 'He's getting us better'

Chicago Bears left tackle Charle Leno, Jr. has outplayed expectations after joining the Bears as a seventh-round pick in 2014. General manager Ryan Pace rewarded Leno for his play with a four-year, $38 million extension last offseason, committing to the former Boise State product as the Bears blindside protector for the immediate future.

Leno joined his teammates at the team's annual Bears Care Gala on Saturday and said new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is going to make the group better.

"We love Harry, let's just get that out of the way," Leno told 670 the Score's Mark Grote. "Harry is a great coach. I saw what he did for guys that he coached in college and the guys that were before us here in Chicago. He's getting us better."

Hiestand's efforts at Notre Dame produced four first-round picks: Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey. He brings a no-nonsense coaching style back to Chicago, where he last served under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. 

STANKEVITZ: In Harry Hiestand, Matt Nagy hits a home run on his first swing at Bears' coaching staff

Leno enjoyed the best season of his career in 2017. His 80.4 grade from Pro Football Focus was the best of all Bears linemen and his highest overall mark over the last four years. He finished 15th among all tackles graded by PFF last season.

Regardless, Leno still has to impress his new coach just like every other offensive lineman on the roster. The Bears haven't added any competition for Leno, but his fate as the team's long-term answer at left tackle could be decided by Hiestand.

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”