From Sideshow to Main Stage

Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan steals the show in Berea on Friday, while the team updates us on which quarterback will start (McCoy) and Marcus Benard's status...

BEREA — On Friday morning, Eric Mangini finally acknowledged what everyone else was thinking regarding the Browns quarterback situation.

Rookie Colt McCoy will start Sunday against the visiting New York Jets.

Before arriving at the answer, the Browns coach embraced the Ryan-esque wittiness theme that has encompassed this week.

"I thought Frank Ryan looked good," said Mangini, referring to Rex Ryan's Wednesday press conference in which he brought up the former Browns quarterback from 1962-68.

Then, Mangini gave a very Mangini-like answer regarding McCoy.

"I think we're moving in the direction we've been moving in the last few weeks," Mangini said. "Colt has taken a bulk of the reps this week in practice."

Quarterback decision aside, the day belonged to Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, brother of Jets head coach Rex Ryan. On Wednesday, Rex Ryan showed up at his press conference with an impersonation of his brother. Rex Ryan donned a longhaired wig with a pillow that served as a replica beer belly.

On Friday, it was Rob Ryan's turn to respond.

"Listen, if that really does look like me, maybe I should listen to him," Rob Ryan said. "He said something about having band surgery. I'll try it and you guys let me know."

At this point, Rob Ryan took a weight lifting belt and pulled it tight around his waist.

"That's much better," he said. "I'll look good if I pull my shirt over it."

The brother's rivalry is one of many subplots involving this weekend's Browns-Jets game. Former Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards has made it known he is glad he is no longer in Cleveland. Finally —oh by the way — Mangini was the Jets head coach from 2006-08.

Rob Ryan can relate with Mangini. In 1995, the Arizona Cardinals fired Buddy Ryan after a 4-12 season. Rob Ryan and his brother Rex were on their father's staff and were also relieved of their duties.

"This is a special week," Rob Ryan said. "You do want to kick the (expletive) out of the team that fires you. The first two times I played Arizona I was intense and my whole family got fired there. I'm sure Eric is feeling the same way."

With so many storylines beside the actually game Sunday, is there a potential these are becoming distractions?

"Nah, that's between them," Browns starting right guard Billy Yates said. "It's a brother thing. It's pretty cool to have a brother on another team or even in the NFL period. It's cool to see that, but as a player, we're here to play football. That's all it comes down to."

The sideshows have been just that, according to Rob Ryan. It's been business-as-usual inside the Berea facility for the coaches and players.

"Nothing is going to distract me," Rob Ryan said. "I'll work until 2 a.m. instead of 1:30. This week is big for us. I think my kids are doing well. I don't know. I'll find out later today.

"Our guys are having a hell of a week. They've worked hard, they know it's going to be a physical war out there. It is a war. When you have a 400-pound guy hit you in the mouth, it's more than a fight. We're going to represent. The stadium will be buzzing for Cleveland we're going to get after it."

Colt's Team (For Now): The rookie's introduction to quarterbacking in the NFL continues with another tough test Sunday against the Jets defense, which has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete only 49.5 percent of its passes.

"Colt will handle it as he's handled everything else," Mangini said. "This game is different than last game and I'm confident he can handle it."

Floyd Womack, who started at right tackle last Sunday, is a 10-year veteran.

"He's impressive," Womack said. "He's doing a great job for us and I'm glad he'd with us. The quarterback is a tough spot. You never expect a young guy to come in and put up numbers and control the offense the way he's done. He's done a great job."

Benard Update: Browns linebacker spent most of Thursday afternoon and early evening in the hospital after dropping to the locker room floor that morning.

"Marcus has not been ruled out Sunday," said Mangini, who as of Friday morning referred to Benard's episode as a fainting. "We're taking all the precautions in terms of his tests. We want to get as much information as we can. He hasn't been ruled out and it'll depend on medically where he is."

Benard did not practice Friday and he was not seen in the locker room during the media availability. Yates' locker is adjacent to Benard's.

"It's scary anytime you see anybody go out like that," Yates said. "I don't know what's wrong with him, we're waiting to hear, too."

Benard leads the Browns with 4 1/2 sacks.

Other Injuries: All four quarterbacks practiced Friday. Delhomme returned to practice Thursday and Mangini called his first day back "rusty."

In addition, Mangini was not ready to rule offensive tackle John St. Clair inactive for Sunday.

"It'll depend on how he does (Friday)," Mangini said. "We'll have to wait and see where we are with John. Shawn (Lauvao) played some last week and he's making his case each week. We'll just see how it goes."

Last Sunday, Yates started at right guard and Floyd Womack started at right tackle.


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