BY TOM WITHERS
---- — CLEVELAND — Battered and bruised at quarterback, the Browns have gotten a little healthier.
With Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell recovering from concussions, Cleveland signed quarterback Caleb Hanie on Tuesday, giving coach Rob Chudzinski another option this week at New England.
The Browns considered adding Hanie to their roster last week, but decided to sign Alex Tanney off Dallas’ practice squad. Tanney, perhaps best known for a trick-shot video on YouTube, backed up Weeden on Sunday against Jacksonville. Weeden was diagnosed with a concussion following the 32-28 loss to the Jaguars and is following the NFL’s program for head injuries.
Campbell, who sustained a concussion last week against Pittsburgh, has improved and is moving closer to being ready to play. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Monday that Campbell has been cleared for football activities but not yet for practice. Per league rules, Campbell must first be examined and cleared by an independent physician before he is permitted to return to the field.
Campbell was injured when he was struck in the helmet on a blindside hit by Steelers cornerback William Gay, who wasn’t penalized but was later fined $15,750 by the league.
If Campbell and Weeden are healthy, Campbell would likely get the nod to start. Weeden passed for a career-high 370 yards against Jacksonville but he had two interceptions and a fumble in the final minutes of the first half and the Jaguars converted the three turnovers into 13 points.
The two QBs may need more time to get well and Chudzinski may have to choose between Tanney and Hanie to face the Patriots (9-3) and coach Bill Belichick. Chudzinski may prefer Hanie because he has started four career regular-season games and has more experience than Tanney, who has played only in the exhibition season.
Hanie spent four years backing up Jay Cutler in Chicago and was third on Denver’s depth chart last season behind Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler. The 28-year-old went 0-4 for the Bears in 2011, completing 51 of 102 passes for 613 yards with nine interceptions.
Hanie was signed as a free agent by Baltimore in April and was with the club in training camp before he was released in August.
Cleveland’s coaching staff will spend Tuesday putting together a game plan for the Browns, who have dropped three straight, six of seven and fallen from the playoff race.
It’s still not clear who will start at quarterback, but at least Chudzinski and his staff have two healthy alternatives in Hanie and Tanney.
It’s been another one of those seasons for the Browns, who can’t seem to catch a break at quarterback. After Weeden was hurt in the team’s second game, Brian Hoyer, who began the season as Cleveland’s No. 3 quarterback, led the team to consecutive wins over Minnesota and Cincinnati before his season-ending knee injury.
Weeden has twice been benched and Campbell, the 20th different starter for the Browns since 1999, stabilized the position before he was injured.
NOTES: The Browns placed linebacker Brandon Magee on injured reserve with a chest injury. He was hurt Sunday against Jacksonville. He appeared in eight games and recorded three special-teams tackles.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org