BEREA—The X-rays have become a part of Josh McCown’s Sunday routine.
After taking a four-quarter beating each week, McCown trots back to the Browns locker room to determine the damage that he’d been dealt that day, just hoping nothing is broken or more serious than a bruise.
“It’s part of (the job),” McCown said. “Anytime you take a hit on something or you’re sore somewhere, it’s normal to take pictures of it, get some X-rays and make sure everything is structurally ok.”
The majority of the damage this past Sunday was to McCown’s shoulder, which was in enough pain to warrant an MRI on Monday and a missed practice on Wednesday.
If it’s only pain and no structural damage in the shoulder is revealed, McCown will be on the field Sunday.
“As soon as you can get to where it’s a pain tolerance thing, in my mind you have to be ready to go,” McCown said. “That’s how I see it.”
Browns head coach Mike Pettine sees the situation in a similar way and feels that if McCown can handle the pain, he’ll be put in the game.
“We will see where he is, and at the end of the week, we will have enough information to make a decision,” Pettine said. “I just know there is some soreness there and he is working through it."
It seems as if McCown will have to work through more soreness as the season continues, as he’s been sacked at least four times in his last five games, which doesn’t include the 36 total quarterback hits he’s taken this season.
Despite the hits he’s been dealt, McCown refused to blame his pocket protectors along the offensive line.
“I just give credit to the guys, the opponents that we're playing against,” McCown said. “My confidence in the guys up front does not change or waver at all. I think it's still an outstanding group and I believe in them completely.”
In fact, McCown blamed himself for his own soreness more so than those that are paid to protect him.
“I go back and look at those things and go, 'Could the ball have gotten out better, quicker?’” McCown said. “I'm constantly grilling myself over that because first and foremost it's on the quarterback to get that ball out and make the job of those five as easy as possible.”
McCown has proven that he’s tough enough to go Sunday, but with the possibility of the damage to his shoulder lingering, Johnny Manziel may start behind center on Sunday.
If that’s the case, tight end Gary Barnidge won’t be at all concerned.
“We have total confidence in all of our guys,” Barnidge said. “It doesn’t really matter who’s back there, we’ll be ready to go.”
Part of the reason for Barnidge’s confidence is that he feels Manziel has prepared well to be the team’s starting quarterback and sees little difference between No. 13 and No. 2 in practice.
“No crazy amount of difference,” Barnidge said, when asked about the differences between the duo. “They’re both able to scramble and everything like that, but Johnny might scramble a little longer… so you might continue the route even more than you would. That’s about it really.”
Pettine too will be confident if Manziel has to start on Sunday, as he’s seen Manziel's ability to prepare as a starter this season.
“He went through a week of preparation, took the gameplan from the meeting room to the field and was interactive with it with the staff,” Pettine said of Manziel’s start this season. “He got out there and was able to execute those plays in practice, and it carried over to the game. We are fortunate to have been able to come up with a winning effort.”
Again, Pettine has said time and time again that he’d rather rely on McCown to take Sunday’s first snap for the Browns offense, which makes the veteran feel pretty good.
“Obviously you’re on the team and you want to help the team win and be available to play,” McCown said. “If coach puts his trust in you it definitely makes you feel good.”
He might feel good about the confidence that’s been instilled in him by his coach, but McCown doesn’t expect to feel well physicall until this NFL season is way in the rearview mirror.
“In, uh, February,” McCown said, when asked when the pain will subside. “It takes a while.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.