On Tuesday afternoon, Josh McCown said he was feeling better with each day and wanted to take the field for the Browns on Thursday.
Just hours later, however, McCown did not practice in the team's light walk-through on Tuesday night, which cleared the way for Johnny Manziel to start against the Bengals.
This start will be Manziel's second of the season, after starting against the Tennesse Titans in a win earlier this year, and the first after his domestic incident involving his girlfriend and alocohol on October 12.
So far in 2015, Manziel has completed 28 of his 50 passing attempts for 393 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Browns head coach Mike Pettine said Thursday that Manziel was preparing as if he would start the game, though McCown still wanted to give it a go.
“They’re both taking the mentality that they’re going to be the starter,” Pettine said of McCown and Manziel. “Just given the unique nature of this week, essentially it’s a lot of walkthrough stuff so to have a guy out there, you can really work two guys as far as the huddle."
Pettine said too that Manziel has remained focused as the backup and has grown as a person and a player from the one he was a year ago.
“He’s a different player. I think we saw that this year when he had to go into the Jets game,” Pettine said. I just think he has a really good understanding of what we’re doing, understands the plays.”
McCown believes that Manziel has an edge in a short week that even he wouldn't be able to boast, in that No. 2 has prepared for this team before.
“He was here last year so he’s been through two weeks or preparation for this team and on a short week, as well,” McCown said. “He’s drawn from those experiences. Just like any work week, we’ll work well together to make sure we’re both prepared and ready to go.”
The Browns may now know that it's Manziel that will take the opening snaps, but that doesn't mean that much will change regarding the players around him.
“Whether it is Josh or Johnny in there, if we want them to play well, we have to play well around them,” Pettine said. “I have said that all year and you are probably sick of hearing it.”
Now with McCown on the bench, the Browns will be without four veterans against Cincinnati.
Andrew Hawkins, Donte Whitner, Joe Haden and Brian Hartline all sustained concussions in the recent weeks and will all be out for the Browns, along with McCown.
McCown and Pettine wouldn't confirm that the X-rays on McCown's ribs were negative, indicating that the quarterback may have broken his ribs against the Cardinals last week.
Manziel and the Browns will take on the Bengals at 8:25 p.m. on Thursday night from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.