BEREA—As the Browns get ready to start quarterback number 24, it is a constant reminder the team is continually striving to find that elusive “franchise” guy.
The question has been asked before and bears repeating. Is the franchise quarterback currently on the roster?
At 36, Josh McCown can hardly be considered the long-term answer at the game’s most important position.
That leaves Austin Davis and Johnny Manziel. If they’re not the answer, will the search lead to another quarterback drafted in the first round next spring?
Mike Pettine was asked how important is it for the Browns or any NFL team to have a franchise quarterback.
“Yeah, I think if you are ranking your positions of priority – we do the exercise of what are the most important positions, generically, if I am starting a franchise, and quarterback is going to be one through five,” Pettine said. “Just the nature of the position and all that goes with it.”
With Davis slated to start his first game for the Browns this week, he will be the 24th different starting quarterback for the Browns since the team returned in 1999. In addition, the Browns have started at least three different starting quarterbacks in the past four seasons and five of the last six years. In 2011, the Browns used two quarterbacks and even used four different quarterbacks in the 2008 season.
Davis was asked how he likes being number 24.
“I have heard that number tossed around, but I guess I haven’t been here so it is hard to speak on that much more,” Davis said. “I just want to prepare and play my best.”
Pettine said finding that player allows the team to build around him and provide the stability that’s needed to be successful.
“I think if you look at the entire league, when you have a long-term answer and you have continuity at that position and the offense can be built around the skill set and the mentality that you have that presence that everyone is looking to that position for leadership and when that is bedrock, you are in much better shape,” Pettine said. “That is what the teams – it is the haves and the have-nots. That is what teams are looking for. We felt that we had a good answer this year in Josh (McCown). Unfortunately, he has had some injury issues. Like I referenced earlier, we have two young guys that are more than talented enough to play in this league and we are going to see what they can do.”
Mack wins Courage Award: OL Alex Mack has been chosen by his teammates to receive the 2015 Ed Block Courage Award. The Ed Block Courage Award is given annually to a member of each of the 32 NFL teams who exemplifies the qualities of Ed Block, the former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts, based on courage, compassion, commitment and community. All 32 winners will be honored at an event in Baltimore this offseason.
“Alex is an integral member of our offensive line and a respected leader in our locker room and community, which makes him more than worthy to receive this award from his teammates,” Mike Pettine said.
Mack, who spent the final 11 weeks of the 2014 season on injured reserve, has started and played every offensive snap in all 11 Browns games this season. Prior to fracturing his fibula in the second quarter of Cleveland’s 31-10 victory over Pittsburgh in Week 6 last year, the two-time Pro Bowl selection started 85 games and played 5,279 consecutive offensive snaps to open his career after being selected No. 21 overall by Cleveland in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Pryor Role: Pettine said the answer was “likely, no” if he expected WR Terrelle Pryor to have a role in this week’s game with the Bengals.
“Likely no," Pettine said. "We’ll have a better sense today. The workload yesterday wasn’t big just because we were so close to the end of the game. It wasn’t our typical Wednesday from a workload standpoint so it wasn’t a lot of high-speed running for the wide outs. We’ll have a better sense today, but I would say it’s probably a little early to have any type of significant work load, if any, for him.”
During the preseason, Pryor was used as the punter protector and said now that he’s back on the roster, Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor said they will “re-visit that”.
Tabor said there’s a reason the former quarterback would be used in that role.
“It gives you a threat (being a former quarterback).”
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo confirmed that Pryor could be used as an emergency quarterback as he called him a “security blanket”.
Pettine also said he could be used as a quarterback.
“(He would be) more of an insurance policy but we see him completely as a wide receiver first.”
Haden, Hawkins IR?: DB Joe Haden, WR Andrew Hawkins, WR Taylor Gabriel and DB Justin Gilbert are all in the NFL’s concussion protocol and Haden and Hawkins have missed a number of games. Pettine was asked if here has been discussions about placing Haden and or Hawkins on injured reserve.
“When you deal with a topic as sensitive as concussions, the longer guys are out, I think those conversations will come up," Pettine said. "We’re not there yet. We also have Hawk (Andrew Hawkins), who’s been out for some time too. With the season winding down, those are potential discussions to have. Like I said, it’s a sensitive topic and something that ultimately has to come to the table.”
OL Joel Bitonio (ankle), LB Nate Orchard (groin) and DL Randy Starks (knee) are practicing on a limited basis.
Not so Special: The Browns gave up two special teams touchdowns in the their loss to the Ravens and Tabor took responsibility for the blocked field goal that cost the Browns a chance to win the game.
“I take responsibility for that,” Tabor said. “It was a terrible event that took place…I need to coach better.”
Tabor said he and the unit have moved on.
“You can either sulk about it and it’s going to get worse or move on and attack it,” he said. “If we live in the past, it will affect us in the future.”
Pettine said that overall, he’s been pleased with the special teams.
"It’s unfortunate because I think overall, special teams this year has been a positive, but just to have those mistakes made – a punt return, a blocked kick – that essentially that cost us the game," Pettine said. "That’s tough when it’s that glaring and it’s on a national stage, but overall body of work, very pleased with where our units are, but it’s unfortunate that those things happen.”
No Offensive Taken: Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said he did not take it as disrespect to the defense that the Ravens went for it on fourth-and-one from deep in Browns territory.
“(John Harbaugh’s) done that all year,” O’Neil said. “That’s who he is as a head coach. When you have two or three wins you can take more risks.”
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