FOXBOROUGH – The Browns have four quarterbacks on their depth chart, but there is no strength in numbers. The first-stringer and second-stringer are hurt, the third-stringer joined the team on Tuesday, and the fourth-stringer, signed eight days ago, has never thrown a regular-season pass in the NFL.
Who starts at quarterback for the Browns on Sunday at Gillette Stadium? That’s anybody’s guess. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski called it “a fluid situation” on Wednesday.
The Patriots don’t know, either. So they’ll prepare for all four – Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Caleb Hanie, and Alex Tanney.
“We’ve been in that situation before where we’ve had to prepare for a couple guys, but I would say that no matter who the quarterback is, I think that Cleveland is going to run their offense,” coach Bill Belichick said. “Their offense is their offense, and whoever it is, and I’ve looked at all of them, I think they all can do what the quarterback needs to do, which is make all the throws: throw short, hit the check-downs, throw intermediate routes, the in-cuts, the crossing patterns, the comebacks, those kind of plays, and throw the ball downfield.
“I think all the quarterbacks are capable of doing it, including [Brian] Hoyer, who actually makes it five. We’ve seen the guys do it, and I’m sure the new guys that we haven’t seen do it in that system, but have seen them do it in other systems, are capable of doing that.”
Hoyer, the Patriots backup quarterback from 2009 to 2011, suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier in the season. In a limited sample, Hoyer had the best numbers among the three quarterbacks who have received the most playing time.
Campbell and Weeden are dealing with concussions, and haven’t yet been cleared to play. So the job might fall to either Hanie or Tanney.
“What we’ll have to do is prepare for the Cleveland Browns offense, and whoever the quarterback is, it is,” Belichick said. “We can’t control that, but we’ll be ready for all four of them, until somebody is taken out of the picture, whether that’s on the inactive list, or ruled out on the injury thing, whatever it is, but we’ll work on all of them until someone is declared.”