A week after returning to practice, and days after finally receiving full medical clearance, the Cleveland Browns have finally gotten at least one of their quarterbacks back. On Thursday, Browns head coach Hue Jackson announced that veteran Josh McCown would not only make his return, but will start for the team today.
McCown entered the 2016 season as the backup quarterback to Robert Griffin III, who suffered an injury in the season opener and was placed on injured reserve. Griffin will technically be eligible to be activated from injured reserve after the next week, but it is not clear whether or not he will be able to be activated just yet.
McCown started the second game of the season, but he, too, suffered an injury that knocked him out for the past five weeks. After taking a shot to the shoulder and collar bone area in the first quarter against the Ravens, he was able to finish the game, but it was revealed after the fact that the injury would not allow him to continue to play through it.
In spite of playing through injury for the majority of the game, McCown did throw for 260 yards and hit on two touchdown passes, although he also threw two interceptions, one of which came at the end of the game as the Browns gave up what was at one point a 20-point lead.
“The last time he played, obviously we had a great chance to win the game and then obviously he got hurt”, Jackson said of his latest starter, “but he showed tremendous poise and toughness. Hopefully we’ll protect him and give him a chance to lead this team”.
As for the previous starter, Jackson said during his press conference on Thursday that rookie Cody Kessler, who has started for the past five weeks, remains in the concussion protocol after taking a hit in the first half that knocked him out of the game. Fellow rookie Kevin Hogan was his backup and finished the game, and will likely serve as McCown’s backup today.
While the Browns were able to rally around their rookie quarterback over the course of the past month or so, the team is also looking forward to working with a veteran such as McCown again. Terrelle Pryor, who is their top wide receiver in his first full season playing the position, said that he is excited to play with him.
“He’s a savvy, smart, team leader”, Pryor said of McCown. “I know he’ll play his heart out”. And for whatever could be said of this Browns team, which has gotten off to an 0-7 start, at the very least it appears that the roster is still tuned in and hungry for a win.
Today’s game might be their best opportunity for the remainder of the season to avoid an 0-16 season, facing the Jets, who are coming off a win over the Ravens. The Steelers and Bengals have both already beaten New York, however, who bring with them a 2-5 record and a quarterback controversy that was solved by a knee injury.