BEREA, Ohio—There is a good chance the Browns are going to be without their first two quarterbacks as they travel to play the Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field.
To make matters worse, Ben Roethlisberger is making his long-awaited debut for the 2010 season after serving a four-week NFL suspension for violating the league's conduct policy. The Steelers were able to win three of the four games without Roethlisberger.
Not surprisingly, Eric Mangini shed little light on the extent of the injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. Delhomme, reportedly, reinjured his ankle after being forced into action when Wallace injured his ankle.
"We spent a lot of time considering what he would do (with Delhomme)," Mangini said. "There's a chance of (injury) any time you put a player in the game. It was based on where he is and what the (medical) staff says and to make the best decision."
Wallace was having a good game when he went down on a sack by John Abraham. He had completed 11-of-15 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown and a rating of 124 when he was injured. He stood on the sidelines the rest of the game, but said he wasn't able to push off his foot.
On the season, Delhomme has a QB rating of 48.2, while Wallace is 88.4. Delhomme has thrown just one touchdown and four interceptions, while Wallace has four touchdowns and just two interceptions.
If neither can play, rookie Colt McCoy could see his first action in the NFL against one of the most feared defenses in the NFL at their own field. The plan was to keep McCoy on the sidelines this season, but considering the circumstances, he might get the call.
"I played with a ton of rookies at different spots," Mangini said. "Guys who have played football their whole lives waiting for their first chance and I'm sure Colt is waiting for his chance.
"If a guy is at home curled up under a blanket hoping he doesn't get put in, you probably don't want him."
Other than McCoy, the Browns could use Josh Cribbs in the wildcat or bring in a quarterback through trade. Brett Ratliff, who was with the Browns in the preseason was signed to the Patriots' practice squad last week and could be an option, even though the Browns wouldn't confirm any such move.
Mangini was asked about McCoy.
"Sometimes, opportunity knocks and if you get that opportunity you have to seize that," he said. "He's played a lot of games at a high college level. Hypothetical, I would expect him or who would see their first action to seize it if (the opportunity is) given."
ESPN's Adam Scheffter posted on his Twitter account that the Browns were signing Ratliff and told him he would back up McCoy.
Mangini didn't want to speculate on what might happen at the quarterback situation.
"You're hitting me with back-to-back hypothetical (questions)," Mangini said. "We'll wait and see until Wednesday with Jake and Seneca. There's a lot of moving parts and a lot that can happen between now and Wednesday."
When asked about Ratliff specifically, Mangini said that Tom Heckert has a list of guys and ‘we'll talk about all of those options.'
Ratliff was with the Browns in 2009 and was with the team through the preseason until the final roster cuts on Sept. 4. He was on the Jaguars' practice squad before joining the Patriots' last week.
If and when the Browns make a roster move, Mangini said he expects the player to come in and be ready.
"Whether it's Ratliff or whoever it is, my expectations are they would be able to come in and play," Mangini said.
Mangini did say that McCoy has gotten reps with the first team in practice when Delhomme was out.
"All those weeks that Jake didn't practice, Colt worked with Seneca," he said. "There's a natural progression and anytime they get more practice, they get better. He's had the benefit of five games."
The players think McCoy will do a fine job.
"I know Colt," Joe Haden said. "He wants to get out there I believe he's really looking forward to (the opportunity). He has passion for the game and just loves to play the game."
Haden said he saw both Delhomme and Wallace hobbling around the facility.
"(McCoy) will come in and do a great job," David Bowens said. "He's been in the system for a while now."
Jerome's Funk: Mangini was asked about the lack of success in the running game.
"We should have been better running the ball better," Mangini said. "You don't want to be one dimensional.
As a team, the Browns had just 48 yards rushing on 20 carries for a dismal 2.4 average.
Mangini was asked specifically about Jerome Harrison, who had just six yards on six carries.
"I think (Sunday) there were runs he could've done better, but he wasn't alone," Mangini said. "Whether it was the o-line or whatever. They did a better job defending than we did. It's not just one thing. It's a group thing. Sometimes, there was no hole to be hit."
Move over Lou: Lost a bit in the loss to the Falcons was the fact that Phil Dawson tied Lou Groza for the team record with 233 field goals.
"I'd like to congratulate Phil for tying Lou's record," he said. "That's not an easy thing to do. He's been a good kicker here for a long time. It's tough when you lose, but it's a significant accomplishment and we want to acknowledge that."
Joe's Woes: Joe Thomas had one of his worst games as a pro as he was beaten twice for sacks by John Abraham and he was driven into the quarterback on another occasion.
"One he was going against John Abraham, a really good player," Mangini said. "He could've done a couple things more consistently with his technique can make a big difference."