Weeden hangs tough in Cowboys debut, a 27-7 exhibition loss to San Diego



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SAN DIEGO — One of the best parts of the night for Brandon Weeden was suiting up in a Dallas Cowboys uniform for the exhibition opener against the San Diego Chargers.

"When you put on that jersey and helmet it is a cool feeling," said Weeden, who signed with Dallas as a free agent after two seasons in Cleveland. "I enjoyed it and definitely thought about it when I put it on."

Weeden had a nice debut, even though the Cowboys lost 27-7.

With Tony Romo sitting out to rest his surgically repaired back, Weeden started and played the first half. He completed 13 of 17 passes for 107 yards and one touchdown.

"It was fun to kind of get back into that groove. It's nice to go up against another team," he said. "Feels good to knock the rust off and get hit a little bit."

Weeden finished Dallas' second drive by weathering a big hit and completing a 4-yard scoring pass to James Hanna, who pulled it in while falling to the ground in the back of the end zone.

Chargers defensive end Lawrence Guy injured a shoulder hitting Weeden.

"I must be a lot bigger than I think," Weeden said.

"I had to keep it alive. They covered the flat with the first read and Hanna did a great job of stopping. I had to get out of the pocket because that protection is not going to hold up forever. There was a huge hole and I knew it was going to close up quick so I threw it as hard as I could and got off the ground. When you get off the ground that is when they have a chance to pile drive you and he got me pretty good.

"It never hurts as bad when you complete them and it dang sure don't hurt as bad when you get a touchdown," he said.

Kellen Clemens and Dontrelle Inman had impressive debuts with the Chargers.

Clemens, the new backup quarterback, threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Inman in the third quarter.

Inman, who played in the CFL the last two seasons, beat single coverage down the right sideline and was gone to give San Diego a 17-7 lead.

Clemens signed as a free agent in March to serve as backup to Philip Rivers after Charlie Whitehurst left for Tennessee. Clemens spent the last two seasons with the St. Louis Rams as a backup to starter Sam Bradford. He started the last nine games after Bradford went down with a knee injury.

After Inman scored, the Chargers got the ball right back on a strip sack by Thomas Keiser and recovery by Damik Scafre. Kerwynn Williams scored on a 1-yard run two plays later to make it 24-7.

"At times we did OK, but in general, I thought San Diego was able to move the ball too easily on us," coach Jason Garrett said. "We did a good job a couple of times down in the red zone, creating that turnover with the ones that forced the touchback that was positive.

"They ran the ball on us and threw on us effectively. For the most part we didn't."

Rivers played just the opening series, completing all four passes for 61 yards.

That drive ended when Ryan Mathews, who has a history of fumbling, lost the ball as he tried to go over the pile and into the end zone. Dallas' Terrance Mitchell recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

Caleb Hanie took over for Weeden on the Cowboys' first drive of the second half.

Undrafted rookie Branden Oliver scored on a 16-yard run for San Diego in the second quarter.


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