Monday, December 11, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Browns QB, former Buc Josh McCown believes he can return this week

BEREA, Ohio — Quarterback Josh McCown carried himself and spoke as if he expects to play Sunday when the Browns visit the Tennessee Titans.

"Anytime you find yourself in a situation like our team is where it's gone this way and you're 0-5, I think it's all hands on deck, and you've got to want to help," McCown, the former Bucs starter, said Monday, less than 24 hours after the Browns were throttled 33-13 by the New England Patriots. "You watch tape from yesterday and you watch the effort that guys put forth and they're battling, and you just want to be a part of it."

McCown will return to practice Wednesday after sitting out the past three games with a fractured left collarbone he suffered Sept. 18 in the first quarter of a 25-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Asked if he believes he has a realistic chance to play Sunday, McCown said, "Yeah, I'm going to practice Wednesday, and that's the next step to this thing. So we'll see how it plays out. … But I'm looking forward to helping anyway I can and getting back out there with the guys."

Earlier Monday, coach Hue Jackson spokes as if rookie quarterback Cody Kessler will have the best chance to start for the Browns against the Titans.

Perhaps Jackson is hoping to keep the Titans guessing.

Kessler suffered a painful injury in his chest and rib area Sunday late in the first quarter when Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower blitzed unblocked between center John Greco and right guard Alvin Bailey and crushed him. He tried to return but never did because he felt too much pain as he threw on the sideline. X-rays taken Sunday were negative, and Jackson reiterated Monday there's "nothing broken."

"There's a good chance that he will have an opportunity to be out there this week," Jackson said of Kessler, who's considered day to day. "So we'll work through that.

"I'm talking about the game. Hopefully the game. If he's going to practice, I would hope he's got a good chance to be in the game, too.

"I'm sure it's a pain-tolerance issue, but again, every day's going to change. You know, it's today, it's tomorrow, and practice is Wednesday. So we'll see where he is then."

Kessler was in the locker room Monday with ice on his chest, but he didn't address the media.

If McCown and Kessler are both healthy enough to play, Jackson will have a dilemma.

McCown, 37, has no chance of becoming the Browns' quarterback of the future because of his age, but he may give the team its best chance to earn its first victory of the season against the Titans. In one game this season, he completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for a rating of 80.4.

Kessler, 23, has had solid performances in three starts and is someone the new regime wants to develop and evaluate after drafting him out of the USC in the third round. In three games, he has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 529 yards and two touchdowns with an interception for a rating of 87.9.

So will the Browns revert back to McCown as the starter or not?

"I haven't made that decision 'cause he hasn't practiced," Jackson replied. "So I don't think we need to go there just yet."

Of course, if McCown is healthier than Kessler, the choice is much easier.

"Josh McCown will have an opportunity to practice this week, and we'll know more about exactly where he is as we go through the week," Jackson said. "But he definitely will have a chance to go out there and practice. So I think that's encouraging.

"I didn't say that (he has been cleared to play Sunday). But he can practice."

Then there's backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. His left knee hyperextended late in the fourth quarter Sunday. He returned to the game to take a knee on the final snap. However, he had the knee wrapped Monday and limped in the locker room. He didn't speak to reporters.

"Charlie, we'll kind of see where he is with the knee," Jackson said. "I'm sure that'll be day to day as well."

Jackson said he's not sure whether the injuries will prompt the Browns to add another quarterback to their active roster this week. They have rookie Kevin Hogan on their practice squad and a spot open.

"Don't know that yet," Jackson said. "We'll know more about that as we move forward."

McCown has a knack for pushing through pain and playing hurt. He did it last season when he had broken ribs. He did it three weeks ago when he suffered the fractured collarbone in the first quarter but finished the game without missing a snap.

"I want to play anytime they give us an opportunity to," McCown said. "… I certainly want to be out there, but obviously sometimes you go through things where your body says otherwise."

McCown explained his chances for a quick comeback are aided by the fracture being on the non-throwing side of his collarbone. He insisted he'll rely on the team doctors and athletic trainers for advice and won't worry about the risk of re-injury.

"That won't be in my mind," McCown said. "It's about playing and doing what we can to get our first win."

One quarterback who won't play Sunday for the Browns is Robert Griffin III, who's on injured reserve after suffering a fractured coracoid bone in left shoulder Sept. 11.

Griffin's injury opened the door for McCown to start, then Kessler. Now the Browns could be on the brink of turning to McCown again.

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