By DARYL RUITER, 92.3 The Fan Browns Beat ReporterBy Daryl Ruiter | 92.3 The Fan

BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Players around the NFL cast their ballots Wednesday for the Pro Bowl.

Fan voting ended Monday and a few Browns finished in the top 5 at their respective positions.

Browns returner Josh Cribbs finished tops in the AFC for special teams player and second for kick returners behind the Ravens’ Jacoby Jones.

“It lets me know hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, especially in this town being a blue collar town,” Cribbs said. “It’s one third of the vote so I don’t hang everything on the fan vote although it means a lot to me to know in their eyes I’m a Pro Bowler.

“I’m not washed up like they say. Just to be top in anything in the NFL is a good thing.”

Kicker Phil Dawson did not crack the top-5 list of AFC kickers after the first week of fan voting but with the help of punter and holder Reggie Hodges, he finished second behind Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski.

“I owe a lot to Reggie [Hodges] and his efforts. It’s pretty cool to have a teammate care that much. Obviously the fan support here in Cleveland is tremendous. I’ve commented several times this season just how overwhelming it’s been and we’ll see. It’s been great. We’ve got a chance at least.

“For him to care that much and to go out of his way, he’s got a family at home and is a busy guy, but for him to put so, much effort into it and to see the way the city responded to it, I’m always going to remember that.”

Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was second among AFC inside linebackers trailing only Jerod Mayo of the Patriots.

Left tackle Joe Thomas finished fourth among AFC offensive tackles, and rookie Trent Richardson finished fifth in fan voting among AFC running backs but received the most pro bowl votes from fans of any Brown.

The Pro Bowl rosters are compiled from fan, player and coaches voting with each group’s vote accounting for 1/3 toward determining the rosters.

The 2013 Pro Bowlers will be announced Wednesday, Dec. 26 during an NFL Network selection show at 7:00 pm ET. The 2013 Pro Bowl will be played at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

Too Early To Judge: The critics of Brandon Weeden are plenty but it’s a bit too early to judge whether or not he is a franchise quarterback.

Weeden has completed 57.2% of his passes for 3,281 yards with 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 72.4 rating this season. He hopes to improve those numbers over the final 2 games.

“Numbers get thrown out the window now that we’re obviously not in the playoff hunt anymore,” Weeden said.. Now it’s just going out, playing well, getting better. We have 8 quarters of football to play and so it’s just finishing strong and leaving it all out on the line.”

Offensive coordinator Brad Childress said Weeden might be 29, but he’s still a rookie and people need to remember that and not how old he is.

“We’re talking about a rookie,” Childress said. “You say, ‘Well he’s not by age.’ No, he’s not by age, but he’s a rookie in this venue. He’s in a rookie season of learning what the drill is and getting that first lap around the track. That’s no different than he or Mitchell Schwartz or Josh (Gordon) or anybody. Can we expect it to get better? You should expect it to get better. If you say, ‘Geez, the guy has had time to do this.’ Is one year time? I don’t think so.

“I think typically you’re judging those guys in 2- and 3- and 4-year increments if you give them that long.”

Fellow rookie Andrew Luck, who was the No. 1 pick in the draft, has completed 54.6% of his passes for 3,978 yards, 20 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and a 75.5 quarterback rating.

The difference for Luck is that he and the Colts are 9-5 and on the verge of the playoffs.

Meanwhile the Browns are 5-9 and trying to avoid a 5th consecutive double digit loss season which Weeden places the blame on himself for.

“I’m not going to stand here and blame it on being a rookie,” Weeden said. “That’s long gone. It’s on me. I’ve got to play better. Whatever it is, I need to find a way to give our team a chance to win week in and week out. Bemore consistent. That’s on me. There’s no one to blame except myself.

“I have to get better. In order for us to be where I need to be, I have to get better.”

Smelley Up: Coach Pat Shurmur said Thursday that with Jordan Cameron being treated for a concussion, Alex Smith would love back to tight end Sunday at Denver if needed.

Smith had moved into the backfield to block in front of Trent Richardson after Owen Marecic was ineffective earlier this year. Marecic has been inactive for 6 of the last 7 games.

Fullback Brad Smelley, who was signed from the practice squad Dec. 10, could be active this week as well. Smelley helped block for Richardson last year at Alabama.

Injury Report: Did Not Practice – WR Mohamed Massaquoi (knee), TE Jordan Cameron (head) and DE Frostee Rucker (shoulder/hip).

Limited Participation – WR Josh Cribbs (knee), LG Shawn Lauvao (head/foot), DL Juqua Parker (knee), DT Phil Taylor (knee) DB Tashaun Gipson (foot) and LT Joe Thomas (back).

Full Participation – WR Travis Benjamin (finger), OL Oniel Cousins (shin), RB Montario Hardesty (knee), RB Trent Richardson (chest/ribs/finger), RG Shaun Lauvao (head/foot) and TE Alex Smith (knee).


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