ALAMEDA – The Cleveland Browns named Josh McCown their starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the visiting Raiders. An announcement was made Wednesday morning, shortly after he was cleared for practice and play following a concussion suffered in Week 1.
There was some question whether McCown would retain a starting job after popular young backup Johnny Manziel led the Browns to victory over the Tennessee Titans.
“They told me after I was cleared,” McCown said in a conference call. “It wasn’t a conversation because it didn’t need to be. After that, they said, ‘you’re back up.’ As a competitor that’s what you hope for and what you expect and then you move accordingly. I’m excited to be back in there.”
The Browns said that McCown will start, but the Raiders will spend time preparing for him and Manziel during this practice week. The passers have contrasting styles. McCown is more of a prototypical pocket passer, while Manziel likes to use agility, improvise and make big plays on the fly.
“You have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team we’re going against,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “They have a system, and we’ll get ourselves prepared to play against that system. We have to understand the nuances that may be a little bit different with each quarterback.
“You’re preparing for both guys. You always do. You’re always aware of who the backup is and what they’re capable of.”
Manziel is an entertaining player who never found his footing as a rookie. He was well known as a partier vulnerable to off-field distraction, but swears those days are behind him. Manziel recorded 354 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception after McCown was concussed in the season opener.
The Browns went back to McCown quickly, and are happy he has returned to health in time to play the Raiders.
“As a leader, he’s been outstanding. As a mentor, he’s been outstanding,” Browns head coach Mike Pettine said in a conference call. “He was very interactive with game plans. He sees a lot. I think he’s a better athlete than people think. He can pick up some first downs with his feet and slide around the pocket, he’s proven that. He’s a competitor and that’s gotten him into trouble some where he’s maybe exposed himself more than he should have trying to make a play, but we’re very pleased with where our quarterback room is right now and we’re happy to have Josh back.”
Quarterback Derek Carr won’t get to face off against Manziel, another top quarterback in his draft class. Manziel was taken No. 22 overall, and Carr was selected 14 choices later by the Raiders.
“I thought that when he went in and started last week, I thought he did a great job,” Carr said. “I always keep up with the guys from our class. I was happy for him and rooting for him, always, except this week. I wish him the best. I think he’s done a great job.”