BEREA, Ohio — The Colt McCoy era might have officially begun, as Eric Mangini announced Thursday that McCoy is not only scheduled to start Sunday against the Bengals, but is planning on starting him the rest of the season.
"I am excited," McCoy said. "However, this is not a landmark day by any means. The key is just taking is day by day and doing everything to try and win over Cincinnati."
McCoy started five games when Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace were injured, but Mangini never made him the official starter other than saying they would have a ‘discussion' when all three were healthy.
It was a moot point, as McCoy was injured at Jacksonville and was sidelined the past three games.
"I'm not really looking at this as a case of throwing a young guy in there to see if he can (play)," Mangini said. "He has earned this and I wouldn't put the team in this position to just try and play a guy. I'm a huge believer in that. Colt has earned the right to play. My thought process is he did a really good job when he was in there and deserves the opportunity."
McCoy took most of the snaps with the first team on Wednesday and Thursday. He has missed the last three weeks with a high ankle sprain after starting five games while Delhomme and Wallace had high ankle sprains.
McCoy said he has been able to stay in the game while he was out.
Mangini said McCoy is a leader and those abilities are showing up more and more as he develops.
"I see his leadership ability and the more he is out in front, the more it is on display," Mangini said. "I really like the way he took in as much as he could from the guys with more experience when he wasn't playing. He's absorbed as much as he can from the mentors around him and that's important."
Mangini is impressed with the way McCoy has progressed.
"It's a different experience than what I've seen," Mangini said. "When you look at the environment that he first started in, he's come along way.
"You're always hoping that what you see is what you get in translating from practice to the game. The challenge has increased a level and you hope and practice the best you can, but the first time at anything, there's some uncertainty."
McCoy's first four starts were against the Steelers, Saints, Patriots and Jets.
"It was significant because we were able to do more because he made that possible," Mangini said. "What the quarterback can do dictates what we can do and how we call the game. He's going to be running the show on the field and he has to have a comfort level.
"His ability to do more each week (was important). He did the things we asked him to do well and then there was more the second week and it got better each game."
With McCoy's promotion, Delhomme will either be the backup or the third quarterback. Mangini said Delhomme handled the demotion in stride.
"He handled it exactly like I thought Jake Delhomme would handle it," Mangini said. "He couldn't have been more supportive. Colt is extremely lucky to have someone like him. You couldn't ask for a better person to be around and his influence is invaluable."
Mangini said he's still working through whether Wallace or Delhomme will be the backup. Wallace is used in wildcat packages and if he is the third quarterback, he could only play in the fourth quarter or if McCoy and Delhomme were injured earlier.
Mangini said he consulted with Mike Holmgren, Brian Daboll and Carl Smith, but the decision was his.
"(Holmgren and I) talked a little about it, as well as Brian and Carl, but ultimately, it was my decision and I let Mike know about it," he said. "(Holmgren's) been great throughout the year and has been a great sounding board. He is more of making sure you've thought through the process."
McCoy is obviously excited, but Mangini used the word ‘determined' to describe his thoughts.
"We had talked on Tuesday and I told him it was important that he didn't have any setbacks," Mangini said. "He was excited and determined two words that come to mind. He only knows winning and there was a real energy from him, but I would say determined is the best word to describe (his reaction)."
One of the thoughts is that the Browns want to see McCoy playing in the cold and wind of Ohio and he will play in Cincinnati before facing the Ravens and Steelers on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.
"He's been operating (in practice) everyday," Mangini said. "I've seen him throw in cold weather, but haven't seen it have much of an impact on him. Wind affects all quarterbacks to some degree."
Tribute to Bob: Mangini opened his press conference by extending his condolences to the Bob Feller family on the passing of the 92-year old former Indians' great.
"I want to send condolences to the Bob Feller family from the Browns organization," Mangini said. "It's amazing for him to play 18 years with one team and he will be missed by everybody."
Injury Update: LB Marcus Benard (shoulder), LB David Bowens (head), LB Scott Fujita (knee), TE Evan Moore (hip), DL Shaun Rogers (ankle, hip), DL Brian Shaefering (illness) and FB Lawrence Vickers (shoulder, hamstring) all missed Wednesday's practice. Mangini is hopeful that Benard, Bowens, Moore, Schaefering and Vickers will be back at practice and able to play Sunday.
CB Sheldon Brown (shoulder), LB Titus Brown (head), DL Kenyon Coleman (knee), WR Josh Cribbs (foot), OL John St. Clair (ankle), OL Floyd Womack (shoulder) and CB Eric Wright (knee) all practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.
McCoy (ankle) and RB Mike Bell (illness) had full participation in practice.
Browns Add Braxton: The Browns added OL Branddon Braxton to their practice squad. The 6-6, 315 lb. former Oklahoma Sooner played in the UFL last season. He played his high school football at Youngstown Ursuline and was with the Browns for on a tryout basis last season.