CLEVELAND (AP) — Josh McCown is done being battered around this season.
Unfortunately for the Browns, they’re still going to take some lumps.
McCown broke his collarbone in Monday night’s last-second loss to Baltimore, an injury that will cost him the final five games this season and re-open more quarterback chaos in Cleveland.
With the Browns in a short week before facing Cincinnati, coach Mike Pettine still hasn’t decided if he’ll re-insert Johnny Manziel, recently benched for off-field antics, into the starting lineup or stick with Austin Davis, who replaced an injured McCown in the fourth quarter.
“I have a series of meetings scheduled,” Pettine said on a conference call Tuesday. “We’re going to discuss it more and determine our best course of action moving forward. We’re going to take everything into consideration and then make a decision for this week that is best for the team.”
The 36-year-old McCown, who sustained a concussion on the Browns’ opening drive this season and missed two games with badly injured ribs, kept playing against the Ravens despite taking a hard hit in the second half.
However, he took himself out after throwing an incompletion in the fourth quarter, leaving the field in excruciating pain.
Pettine said McCown will not need surgery, the lone positive to another bad turn of events for a team that has lost six straight and may not have hit rock bottom.
“Worst possible scenario for Josh,” Pettine said. “It was not displaced, so he does not need to have surgery but it will take more than the rest of the season to get it healed up. That’s very unfortunate. Josh means a lot to this team, whether it’s in the locker room, practice field, game day, just the positive energy that he exuded, the leadership.
“I cannot say enough positive things about Josh McCown and what he’s done for this football team and what he means to this football team.”
McCown was signed to a three-year deal to stabilize Cleveland’s wobbly quarterback situation. He did the best he could while also serving as a mentor to Manziel, who was recently given the starting job and then had it taken from him for off-field behavior.
Pettine said he will meet with his coaching staff later Tuesday to decide his next move at quarterback. Davis came in with Cleveland trailing by seven and threw a game-tying touchdown pass in the final minutes. He had the Browns (2-9) in position to kick a game-winning field goal only to have it blocked and returned 64 yards for a touchdown on the game’s final play.
Davis’ inexperience also hurt the Browns down the stretch. He failed to get out of bounds on a run, forcing the team to call a timeout, and Davis had trouble with the communication device in his helmet, leading to confusion and wasting precious seconds.
Pettine said he will consult with others, but made it clear that the decision on who will start at quarterback on Sunday against the Bengals will be his alone.
Manziel, who has gone 1-2 as a starter this season, was active for Monday night’s game as Cleveland’s No. 3 quarterback. He had been selected as the starter for the last six games before a video surfaced of him partying during the team’s bye week. Manziel had promised his coaches that he would not be a distraction and then became one anyway.
Pettine demoted him to third string, saying the 22-year-old had violated the team’s trust.
Now, it’s possible the Browns will place their faith in him once again.
NOTES: Pettine said CB Justin Gilbert is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after sustaining a head injury while returning a kickoff against the Ravens. … Pettine described the loss as one of the toughest in his coaching career. “You’re poised for thrill of victory and then you’re tasting agony of defeat all within a span of 10 to 15 seconds. I can’t think of too many game-ending scenarios that would make you feel worse at the end than that.” … Despite some incriminating photos, Pettine said the coach’s game tape does not show the Ravens lined offside on the blocked field goal.
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