BEREA — Colt McCoy is slated to be the Browns 10th starting quarterback in 13 years on opening day this Sunday. The Browns are hoping he becomes the answer at the key position that has hindered the Browns for so long.
"(McCoy's) been passing the tests as we go along," coach Pat Shurmur said. "Now, we need to see him do it for 60 minutes."
Shurmur said despite McCoy starting eight games in 2010, he looks at him as starting anew.
"For me, it's his first year," Shurmur said. "He got some experience last year as he was thrown in when injuries occurred."
McCoy said he has felt comfortable being the leader of the offense since he was named as the starter.
"It's been like that since we've come back," he said. "I feel very blessed and thank the Lord every day for the opportunity."
It's well documented that McCoy wasn't supposed to play, but when Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace went down with high ankle sprains, McCoy was pressed into duty. He was 2-6 as the starter completing 135-of-222 passes (60.8 percent complete) for 1,576 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions. His QB rating was 74.5.
In the preseason, McCoy had a QB rating of 101.7 with four touchdowns and one interception. He completed about 61 percent of his passes.
McCoy knows nothing is going to come easy for him and the offense.
"We've put in a lot of hard work," he said.
"We're ready to go. We understand the challenge ahead of us, starting Sunday (against Cincinnati). We are truly going to take it one game at a time."
Shurmur likes the way McCoy took ownership of the offense, despite the lockout.
"Where it began in the offseason," Shurmur said. "We saw him try to lead the team with little information. He took the initiative to go see Brett Favre.
"I saw him in training camp more than meeting us halfway," he said. "You saw him correct some errors and become efficient in the first preseason game."
Shurmur was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season when Sam Bradford became the Rams' starter and was credited with having a successful rookie season. Shurmur likes the fact that McCoy has always been a winner.
"He has an innate ability to win," Shurmur said. "If you track back to grade school, it's been that way."
Shurmur said he's been impressed with McCoy after working with him in person.
"When you're around him more, the most I've learned from being around him for six weeks, is he wants to do what's right," Shurmur said. "After being around him, you can see that."
Shurmur said he has earned the respect of his teammates thus far.
"I think I see that," he said. "The play starts in the huddle and he's done a good job of taking charge. He's displayed to his teammates and knows what he's doing and that's where it starts."
Josh Cribbs said McCoy has earned the respect.
"He was thrown into the fire last year (against Pittsburgh)," Cribbs said. "We have some consistency and stability at quarterback and he's earned our respect."
Bengals' coach Marvin Lewis has noticed McCoy in the preseason.
"I think they're doing things to allow him to get the ball up and down," Lewis said in a conference call Wednesday. "The more you allow him to be more efficient, the better he will be."
Bengals' rookie quarterback Andy Dalton went up against McCoy while in college and he said he hopes to have many more battle with McCoy.
"He's a great player and did a lot of good things in college," Dalton said. "It's going to be fun to go against him and hope I can go up against him for a long time."
Last year, then rookies Bradford and McCoy were able to play and have some success.
"It was good to see what they did as rookies last year."
Cribbs Ready: Shurmur said that WR/PR/KR Josh Cribbs is ready for the return game, despite not doing so in the preseason.
"He hasn't done it in games, but has fielded a ton of punts in practice," Shurmur said. "He has a lot of experience in kicks and I'm not worried about him."
Shurmur said he expects to use Cribbs and to take advantage of his play-making ability.
"He's a competitor and he's a play maker," he said. "We're going to play him at receiver and play him quite a bit. We're going to try and get him the football."
Shurmur likes Cribbs' mind-set.
"He doesn't mind blocking, catching the ball and it takes a great deal of courage to run back kicks and punts."
Shurmur Ready: Shurmur will be making his NFL debut as head coach and he feels the team is ready.
"In our team meeting, we've set the table and let the players know what we expect," he said. "I thought the mood was good."
Little Wins Maurice Bassett: WR Greg Little won the annual Maurice Bassett Award voted upon by the local members of the Professional Football Writers Association annually.
"That's a nice award," Shurmur said. "I think he's developed and he's a fun guy to be around.
"He's really done a good job," he said. "He dropped a few balls early on and he loves to play the game and Sunday's are probably his favorite day."
For Depth: The depth chart for the first game shows four rookies listed as starters, two on offense and two on defense. FB Owen Marecic and LG Jason Pinkston on offense, with DL Phil Taylor and DE Jabaal Sheard on defense. Newly signed OL Artis Hicks, wearing No. 75, is listed as Pinkston's backup and might supplant Pinkston before the first game. Mike Adams is listed as the starter as FS opposite SS T.J. Ward in place of FS Usama Young.
Shurmur is going to keep the Bengals guessing as to who will start at left guard.
"We have Jason in there and Artis is working there, as well as John Greco."
Shurmur said that he expects as many as six rookies to either start or play a lot.
"There are as many as six rookies that could be playing a lot, if not starting."
In addition to the starters, it is expected that WR Greg Little and DB Buster Skrine will be on the field quite a bit.
Mo Mass Ready: Despite missing all of the preseason, Shurmur sounds optimistic that WR Mohamed Massaquoi will be on the field against the Bengals.
"I think he's done a terrific job in terms of staying with it (while out)," Shurmur said. "I see him get up to speed pretty quickly."
Massaquoi is listed as the starting receiver opposite of WR Brian Robiskie.
"He's still in a boot and trying to get that foot to settle down a little bit," Shurmur said.
"Gocong, Watson and Young will be out there," he said. "(Gocong's) practicing and that's the first step and we'll see how he responds."
Gocong has been out most of the preseason with a neck stinger.
Youth Movement: There is no question the Browns' roster is much younger than it was a year ago under Eric Mangini. The Browns presently have just seven players over the age of 30 on their roster: K Phil Dawson (36), DB Sheldon Brown (32), LB Scott Fujita (32), OL Artis Hicks (32), OL Tony Pashos (31), LS Ryan Pontbriand (31) and QB Seneca Wallace (31).
Looking for a Win: Since the Browns returned in 1999, they have opening the season at home every year except in 2010, when they opening in Tampa Bay and lost to the Buccaneers, 17-14. In home openers, the Browns have lost 10 of 11 with their only win coming Sept. 12, 2004 as the Browns defeated the Ravens, 20-3. The Browns finished that season 4-12 and Butch Davis resigned after 11 games. The Browns opened with the Bengals on Sept. 11, 2005 and lost, 27-13 and went on to a 6-10 record.
White Out: The Browns are wearing white jerseys and white pants for all home games for the first time since 1988. The Browns wore all-white from 1947-55 when Paul Brown was the coach.