Injuries continue to cloud Browns’ quarterback situation


Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) during the pre game warmups for their game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine addressed the team’s quarterback situation on Monday and it is safe to say that injuries are making the situation as cloudy as ever.

Starting quarterback Josh McCown will not be able to practice until Friday at the earliest, and while backup Johnny Manziel will work with the first team to be ready in case McCown can’t go in the home opener on Sunday against Tennessee, he will be “limited” by his ongoing elbow issue.

“I just think we have to be mindful of it,” Pettine said of Manziel’s elbow in published reports. “We don’t want to all of a sudden just come out and say, ‘Hey, let’s go ahead and throw it that many times,’ or at least limit the number of downfield throws. So it’s something we’re aware of. We’re not going to let it handcuff how we practice.

“He’s making progress, but we won’t know the status until he’s fully cleared to return.” – Head coach Mike Pettine on quarterback Josh McCown

“But the team reps, to me, are the most important. So I would rather him take fewer throws in individual [drills], just be cautious in individual as opposed to just giving him the full workload. I just want to make sure he can make all the throws in the team period, which we don’t see as an issue.

“It’s just being prudent with it, just kind of ramp him back up. We feel he’s past it. I mean there’s still going to be some natural soreness. But we just don’t want to jump right back in and [say], ‘Hey, he’s going to take starting reps and overload him,’ especially early in practice. If there’s throws that he doesn’t have to take there, then we’ll go ahead and make sure that the bulk of his work comes in the team periods.”

Related: Browns sign QB Matt Blanchard to practice squad

Pettine also said that Austin Davis, who the team signed last week, will get some time with the first team this week to take some of the pressure off of Manziel’s arm and to be ready – you know, “just in case.”

The Browns also have Matt Blanchard available after signing the former Green Bay Packer to the practice squad on Tuesday.

Got all that?

If McCown can return to practice it makes the most sense for the Browns to give him the start, even if he only has Friday to prepare for the Titans.

McCown was clearly the better quarterback throughout training camp and the preseason, and things were looking pretty good on Sunday right up until the point that McCown went airborne at the goal line.

While Manziel did nothing to really embarrass himself after taking over for McCown, he really didn’t do anything that should make the coaching staff in a rush to put him in the starting lineup, either. Unless, of course, you think that three turnovers that led to 21 points for the Jets is no big deal.

Related: Merrill Hoge calls for Browns to cut Johnny Manziel

Manziel earned a grade of -2.6 from Pro Football Focus for his outing against the Jets (McCown fared only slightly better at -1.3), with the site writing that:

"We went into the struggles of QB Johnny Manziel (-2.6) in further detail here. There are times when he flashes potential, but the dependency on his legs is clear. That reliance sometimes leads him into trouble, as it did when he scrambled out of the pocket early and subsequently suffered a strip sack from the blind side. Manziel certainly isn’t ready to carry a team, and the Browns lack the offensive weapons to bail him out."

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“It was progress,” Pettine told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “The turnovers were the disconcerting part. You have to protect the football. You minimize your chances of winning. But just looking at what he had just come off of and the limited reps that any No. 2 gets, let alone him coming off the arm, I thought he made some good throws. He knew the plan. He prepared himself to be the starter and in some instances it showed.”

In some ways, the situation could work out to be a positive for the Browns.

While you don’t ever want to see a starter miss practice time, McCown is a veteran and having a couple of extra days off may not be such a bad thing. And Manziel getting extra time with the first team in practice, even if he is somewhat limited by his elbow, certainly can’t hurt as he continues to rebuild his game after a disastrous rookie season.

No matter what happens with the quarterback situation this week, if the rest of the team doesn’t play any better than it did against the Jets, it may not matter who lines up behind Alex Mack on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Next: Apparently, Play Like a Brown means to be awful