BEREA, Ohio (AP) – Josh McCown will start at quarterback for the Browns on Sunday against Oakland, moving back into the lineup ahead of Johnny Manziel after passing the NFL’s protocol on concussions.
McCown sustained a concussion on the first drive in the season opener against the New York Jets and sat out last week against Tennessee because of lingering symptoms from his head injury. McCown was cleared Wednesday by an independent neurologist, the final stage before he can practice. McCown had been expected to return last week but had a setback.
Manziel is returning to his backup role just days after getting his first career win. The second-year QB, who has overcome personal issues, threw two long touchdown passes in a 28-14 win over Tennessee on Sunday. He completed 8 of 15 passes for 172 yards but had two more fumbles, giving him four in two games.
Browns coach Mike Pettine said earlier this week that he would start the quarterback who gave him the best chance to win. He’s comfortable with the 36-year-old McCown, who signed a three-year contract during the offseason and led the Browns on a 90-yard drive before he was hurt trying to launch himself into the end zone and got hit by two Jets defenders on Sept. 13.
On Monday, Pettine hinted at going back to McCown, and made it clear the Browns would not be swayed by the polarizing Manziel’s status as a first-round pick.
“We’re tasked with winning football games, and the decisions we make are what gives us the best opportunity to win this Sunday,” Pettine said. “I know that on the outside those things get brought into it. And we’ve already seen circumstances have come about for us to get an evaluation of him. We’re not going to use a season and look at it that way, and say ‘Hey, we need to know.’ We think over the natural course of events, we’ll find out.”
McCown is 17-33 as a career starter, and has deep knowledge of Cleveland’s offense. While Manziel has made major strides, he remains a work in progress and the Browns are more comfortable with the 22-year-old as a backup.
Pettine will discuss his decision to return to McCown before his 12:25 p.m. news conference.