Cleveland Browns holding off on quarterback decision


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 declined to name a starting quarterback on Friday for the upcoming game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I won’t say I don’t know (who the starter will be),” Pettine said after Friday’s practice. “But it’s just from an information standpoint we have our plan built to be either way. If (McCown) is good to go, then he would start. I wouldn’t have him inactive. Austin Davis will be up, it’ll just be a question of whether he’s the two or the three.”

Starting quarterback Josh McCown has been dealing with a sore shoulder and sore ribs since the game against the Arizona Cardinals 12 days ago, leaving backup Johnny Manziel to take the start last week against the Cincinnati Bengals and most of the work with the first-team offense this week in practice.

It sounds as if the Browns are going to push this as close to kick off as possible to see if McCown can give it a go, while also preparing Manziel in case they need to unleash his 51.8 percent passing and 13.6 points-per-game offense on an unsuspecting Pittsburgh defense.

Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Keith Butler said he is preparing for the possibility of either quarterback.

“I think they’re going to have the same game plan, so we’re trying to prepare for what we see on film. Both of them are good players,” Butler said, presumably with a straight face. “McCown is obviously a veteran, been around for a long time, very smart, does a lot of good things. He’s best in the league on third down, has a high quarterback rating on third down. Manziel is a little bit more dynamic. He gets out of the pocket a little bit more, but both are going to be a challenge for us.”

If the Browns do turn to Manziel, the second-year player says he is ready to build on his performance against the Bengals.

“Obviously, every week of practice I get with the guys, every game, every game speed rep – as the game went on again, I felt things starting to slow down more and more and seeing guys here and there,” Manziel said earlier this week. “Not every game is going to be perfect in that aspect (as) I have only played four starts.

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“At the same time, I feel that I am getting more comfortable so it is going to be hard knowing that I feel like I am getting better and learning a lot being out there and having to go back (to the bench). We don’t know if that has been decided yet or what the case may be. We will cross that bridge when we get there.”

Even if he doesn’t play on Sunday, the fact that Manziel is working more during the week with the starters can only be a good thing, and right guard John Greco, for one, likes what he’s seeing out of the latest version of Manziel

“I like where he’s at,” Greco told “There hasn’t been a lot of repeats out there and kind of mental things that we’ve gone through. Yeah, you don’t want to miss blocks, you don’t want to drop passes, but you can kind of judge how a practice goes by how many repeats we have, and (Thursday) there were very few. We’ve got to finish it up tomorrow and I like where Johnny’s been at this week.”

In the end, it may not matter who the Browns send out at quarterback. Cleveland has only won in Pittsburgh twice since 1989 (and not since 2003), and have lost 26 of the past 30 meetings against the Steelers.