The Cleveland Browns are running out of quarterbacks. Again.
And we’re only 2 weeks into the season with 14 more games to play.
For the second straight week, a Browns starting quarterback will spend his Monday undergoing further medical evaluation while the team braces for the results.
Josh McCown, who started in place of Robert Griffin III, sustained a left shoulder injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s 25-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens but was able to finish the game despite rookie and third-round pick Cody Kessler warming up on 2 separate occasions on the sideline.
“We will see,” McCown said of the injury and his status going forward. “My mindset is that everything will be alright and we will move ahead business as usual. It is just a matter of letting the doctors and trainers do their job, and my expectations are to play some ball.”
McCown sustained the injury with just over 5 minutes left in the first quarter when he was driven into the ground by Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. McCown got up clearly in pain and favoring the shoulder but he was able to fire a quick swing pass out to Corey Coleman, who made a nice move at the 5 and dove into the end zone for an 11-yard TD and a 20-0 lead.
After the series McCown was taken to the locker room for evaluation. Although McCown returned to the game and finished it, he took several more hits to the shoulder and was limited the rest of the afternoon.
Griffin is already lost for a minimum of 8 games after he broke a bone in his left shoulder late in the Browns’ 29-10 loss at Philadelphia last week. Thankfully the Browns had the 37-year old and 14-year veteran to turn to in Week 2 but that might not last long pending the outcome of the tests, which aren’t expected to be favorable.
“He is tough. There is no question he is tough,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “That is why he played in this league as long as he has. He is very tough. He knows how to make plays. He made some outstanding plays, and I am sure there are some he would like to have back, but that is the NFL at its best.”
McCown was 20 of 33 for 260 yards with a pair of touchdowns to rookie receiver Corey Coleman as the Browns raced out to a 20-0 lead before Baltimore rallied. McCown also threw 2 interceptions – both coming at the end of each half – but despite being in obvious pain, he had no intention of leaving the field.
McCown stood at the podium and held back tears as he talked about why it was so important that he remain in the game.
“It think it is just not wanting to not be out there with your guys,” McCown said. “I have a dad and an older brother who get up and go to work and sometimes they don’t feel great and they go. They go and they grind. I have two little boys that are playing football now. They get hit and they get banged up, and I am trying to teach them what toughness means.
“For me, it is those things and just knowing the window for me right now and understanding that I don’t want to miss snaps. I don’t want to be out there without my guys. Unless it is going to fall off, let’s try to make it work and make it go. That is my mentality.”
While he maintained after the game that he intends to play next week at Miami, it doesn’t look to be good. McCown favored his left shoulder throughout the game and during his post game presser. He required assistance just to get his shirt on in the locker room.
“I’d go to war with that guy any time,” right guard John Greco said. “The guy gets the [stuff] knocked out of him seven, eight times a game and keeps getting up and making throws. Credit to him. We have got to keep him clean.”
Kessler is in line to make his first NFL start and the Browns appear destined to start their third different QB in as many games this season. Such is the luck in Cleveland, at least for the Browns.
The injury to McCown wasn’t the only bad news either. Center Cameron Erving left FirstEnergy Stadium in an ambulance after experiencing “discomfort in his chest and ribs” but is in stable condition. He was diagnosed with pulmonary contusion and will likely be ruled out for next week’s game.
Greco said in the locker room after that Erving, who went down with 55 seconds left in the fourth costing the Browns their final timeout of the second half, was fighting through something throughout the game.
“Credit him for sticking in there as long as he can,” Greco said. “I know that we’re going to have to kind of scrape him off of the field for him to come out. It looked like at the end, he just couldn’t take it anymore.”