BEREA—Austin Davis might be the most overlooked quarterback on the Browns roster.
Lost in the Johnny Manziel mania, the fourth year signal caller from Southern Mississippi has stepped in and done a pretty good job on his two chances to play. His opportunities came when Manziel was being disciplined for an off the field incident where he violated the coaching staff’s trust.
The Browns thought enough of Davis to sign him to a contract extension during the season.
However, Davis said his last outing against the Bengals has caused him to look forward to getting another chance. The Browns lost 37-3 but moved the ball on offense, but couldn’t score any touchdowns.
“Anytime you go out and get a chance to start and the game goes the way that one did, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Davis said. “I’m excited about it, if the opportunity presents itself to play again, and get a chance to go out and try to put the ball in the end zone.”
With Manziel ruled out on Thursday, Davis will get the start against the Steelers-- his second of the season.
Against Cincinnati, Davis was 25-of-38 for 230 yards (65.8 pct.) with no touchdowns and one interception. His rating was 71.2. Davis earned the start against the Bengals after coming off the bench when Josh McCown broke his collar bone on the previous Monday night against the Ravens and rallied the Browns in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.
Against Baltimore, Davis was 7-of-10 for 77 yards and he led the Browns on a 71-yard touchdown drive completing all six passes he threw for 71 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown to Travis Benjamin to tie the game. Davis moved the Browns into position in overtime to attempt the game-winning field goal, but Travis Coons’ 51-yard attempt was blocked and returned for a touchdown by the Ravens to win the game.
Gary Barnidge was asked if it is an adjustment to play with three different quarterbacks in a season.
“I don’t think it is a big deal because they all practice every week,” Barnidge said. “We practice with all of them so we get familiar with all of the quarterbacks. We have total confidence in all of our quarterbacks. I don’t think there are any issues for us no matter who is back there.”
In the first meeting against the Steelers, Manziel threw for 372 yards, but Davis said being with the Browns during the first game gives him some familiarity with the Steelers.
“Sure, yeah,” he said. “We always watch our previous game against a familiar opponent, a division opponent. It kind of gives you an idea of specifically how they played you and your personnel, and they had some success. I know we threw the ball around a good bit but didn’t come away with a ton of points so they’re going to do that. They’re probably going to stick with that game plan. Why wouldn’t they? We’ve got to be prepared for that, and if they do try throwing some new wrinkles, then we’ll be prepared for that, as well.”
Davis said he and the offense are completely focused on the Steelers and not the off-season.
“That is what we’re talking about and that is really all that matters right now is this game,” he said. “It’s the last game of the season, and we need to go out and play well against a team that we believe we can beat. If we play well, we’ll have a chance to do that.”
The Steelers come to FirstEnergy Stadium with a chance to still make the playoffs. They need a win over the Browns and some help for the Jets to lose, but Davis said it would be satisfying to dash their playoff hopes by defeating them.
“You know, why not?” Davis said. “They have a lot to play for so we know they’re going to come in and play hard. The thing is that what I like to say is we have a lot to play for, too, because it’s another game. It’s another Sunday. If we could knock them out and keep them from going to the playoffs, that’d be good.”
Cam’s Improvement: Overlooked in the loss to the Chiefs was the play of OL Cameron Erving. The first-round pick has struggled as a rookie but he felt he played his best game with the Browns.
“I definitely feel like it was.”
Erving said he feels his confidence is growing as a result of his play.
“It does a lot for my confidence because I was really tough on myself, and I always knew you just have to get back out there and continue to play because this is what you do,” he said. “I always just have to keep reminding myself how much I love it. Every time you go out there, you just get a feeling when you go on the field. I want to do the best that I can possibly do. I want to be perfect, but we all know that’s not going to happen. I just go out and tried to minimize mistakes.”
Erving admitted he has learned to block out the negative criticism.
“When I was in college, I kind of looked at things,” he said. “I looked at all of those message boards and all the negativity that was coming towards me. I looked at that and used it as motivation, but I’m not going to do that in the NFL because this is a different game. People who have never touched a football comment and criticize your game as if they could do it any better.
“I just go out and I listen to my peers and I listen to my coaches and I try to go out and minimize mistakes,” he said. “It’s a learning curve every day, and I just try to go out and get better.”
Devlin Signed, Terrelle not No. 2: WR Terrelle Pryor was the logical choice to be the backup quarterback for Sunday if another quarterback wasn't signed. On Thursday, the Browns signed QB Pat Devlin to back up Davis on Sunday. Pryor will be the emergency quarterback.
Barnidge was asked if Pryor threw any passes to him at practice.
“You will have to wait and see,” Barnidge said laughing.
Four in Concussion Protocol: WR Marlon Moore, QB Johnny Manziel, DB Tramon Williams and RB Glenn Winston remain in the concussion protocol and did not practice Thursday. LB Karlos Dansby (toe) and OL Joe Thomas (knee) did not practice on Thursday. DB K’Waun Williams (shoulder) was limited, while WR Travis Benjamin (ankle) and RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) returned t practice Thursday.