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McCown cleared, will start for Browns vs. Raiders

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BEREA, Ohio — Once quarterback Josh McCown was cleared of concussion symptoms and allowed to return to practice on Wednesday, the decision to give him his starting job back came down to one factor for Browns coach Mike Pettine.

McCown had to be cleared by an independent neurologist after suffering a concussion in the season opener on Sept. 13 against the Jets. McCown did not play against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 20 because he was still in the NFL’s concussion protocol system.

McCown thought as late as last Friday he would be allowed to play against Tennessee, but he did not pass the final tests until Wednesday morning.

“He’s done everything we asked of him in the offseason so far this year,” Pettine said before practice. “He earned the right to be our starting quarterback. We feel he gives us the best opportunity to win on Sunday. That was truly the basis for the decision.

“For us it is very bottom line. You weigh everything, you look at the game plan and you look at where we are, who has gotten what reps and how we feel about things, it was who gives us the best opportunity to win.”

The decision to go back to McCown means Johnny Manziel will resume his role as McCown’s backup. Manziel threw two touchdown passes to Travis Benjamin, one 60 yards and one 50 yards, to lead the Browns past the Tennessee Titans, 28-14.

“Obviously, I’m not going to sit here and say that I love the decision,” Manziel said. “But I respect Coach Pett, and that’s the guy that makes the calls for this team.

“And I’m going to be a team player and do what I need to do from here on out, and be ready if my number’s called on Sunday, if it’s called the next one, if it’s called in six, seven, eight weeks, whatever the case may be.

“I felt like I went out and did some good things. But I bridged the gap whenever I got my chance to go out there and that’s what we needed. Our team needed a win, and I was the next guy up. We got the win.”

McCown has been the Browns starting quarterback since the moment he was signed on Feb. 28. The 13-year veteran has a career record of 17-33 as a starter.

He played well in preseason and thought things were going well until he was concussed in a helmet to helmet hit at the Jets one-yard-line on a 17-play drive that began on the Browns nine. He said he is confident he and the offense will pick up where he was injured.

“I’m confident in what I saw us do Sunday (against Tennessee) as an offense,” McCown said. “There were certainly some good things, obviously the big plays were there, but we started getting the running game together a little more.

“So I feel very confident in our ability to do that and myself to go there and do it as well because that’s what we’re going to have to have.”

McCown completed 5-of-8 passes for 49 yards in his brief time before being injured in the opener.

–Punt returner Travis Benjamin was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. He returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown and totaled 154 yards on six returns.

“It’s a blessing,” Benjamin said. “I think it’s my third one since I’ve been here. Just the compliments to me, and I appreciate those 10 guys on the punt return team blocking for me.”

–Jamie Meder is a feel-good story for the Browns. He is a 295-pound defensive tackle from the Cleveland suburb of Parma Heights. He beat out veterans Phil Taylor and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen to win the job as backup to Phil Taylor.

Meder had one of seven sacks of Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. He was eager to get back to practice Wednesday and is geared up Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

“I’m just happy to get my first NFL sack and build on it,” Meder said. “That first game (a 31-10 loss to the Jets) was a big upset. We woke up from it and got to work like we’re going to do next Sunday.”

–DE Desmond Bryant (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. Head coach Mike Pettine is hopeful Bryant will be better by the end of the week.

–LB Scott Solomon (ankle) will not play against the Raiders.

–RB Robert Turbin (ankle) could miss two or three more weeks.


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