McCown Starting, Ready or Not

The Browns rookie quarterback has to be thrown to the wolves (or Patriots)

BEREA – It looks like rookie Luke McCown will get his first NFL start Sunday.

Kelly Holcomb has three cracked ribs. He hasn't ruled out playing, but it's doubtful that he'll play. Jeff Garcia's injured right shoulder hasn't improved enough.

McCown couldn't pick a worse team to face in his debut. The New England Patriots have one of the trickiest defenses in the NFL.

It's not similar to the situation Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger inherited when Tommy Maddox went down with an injury in week two. Roethlisberger has had the NFL's top rushing offense and an elite defense to take pressure off his shoulders.

"They have players who are professional football players, and so do we," said McCown, a fourth-round draft choice from Louisiana Tech. "We're all at this level for a reason. Some coach somewhere thought that we had the talent at this level. It's about trusting the guy around you.

"Obviously Ben does have a great team around him, but he's played great. He's played smart. He's played efficient, and he hasn't made a lot of rookie mistakes. More than anything, that's going to be my focus when I'm playing. I just have to be efficient. Get first downs and move the chains. Don't turn the ball over. Just give us the opportunity to win."

Robiskie admits playing a rookie quarterback can be risky, but he keeps thinking about the way McCown played in preseason. He was 24-of-42 passes for 342 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

"The last time I remember Luke in a game was in Kansas City," Robiskie said. "He threw a touchdown and won the game. If Kelly can't go, Luke is going to prepare like a professional. He'll be ready to play."

At Wednesday's team meeting coach, Terry Robiskie asked all the players that consider themselves a leader to stand up. Approximately 25 players rose to their feet.

"When they stood up, all of a sudden they realized why I made them stand up," Robiskie said. "When they stood up, I told them to grab a guy you think will follow you and go to work."

Robiskie has changed the practice schedule so that players aren't in the facility as long as they were when Butch Davis was coach.

"It's been a long year," Robiskie said. "Players are battered and bruised and sore and hurting. We tried to structure things so we can get our work done, but at the same time get them out of the building. We're trying to do our work in a shorter period of time."

Linebacker Andre Sommersell and running back Kris Briggs have been waived from the practice squad.

Listed as questionable on the Browns' injury report are receiver Andre Davis (toe); quarterbacks Jeff Garcia (shoulder) and Kelly Holcomb (ribs); defensive backs Michael Lehan (hamstring) and Daylon McCutcheon (shoulder), and running back Lee Suggs (toe).

Cornerback Ty Law is out for the Patriots with a foot injury. Cornerback Tyrone Poole is out with a knee problem. Questionable are linebackers Roman Phifer (calf) and Mike Vrabel (foot), and defensive back Asante Samuel (shoulder). Cornerback Randall Gay (arm) and quarterbacks Tom Brady (shoulder) and Jim Miller (shoulder) are probable.

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