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Browns' McCoy taking hits

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BEREA, Ohio (AP)

One day after his offense scored just six points, Browns coach Pat Shurmur was careful not to criticize Colt McCoy.

His quarterback had taken enough hits.

On Sunday, McCoy was sacked five times, roughed up several more after making throws and hit during runs when he tucked the ball and took off from pressure in Cleveland's 6-3 ugly win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Shurmur had several players injured in the win. McCoy wasn't one of them.

''He's fine,'' Shurmur said. ''I was just with him and he looked good. I didn't see him run today, but he was walking straight.''

Now it's up to the Browns to keep him that way.

McCoy has only been sacked 13 times in six games this season, but according to NFL.com, he has been hit 38 times, a number both he and Shurmur want to keep from growing much larger. It's no coincidence that three teams whose quarterbacks have been hit most - St. Louis, Seattle and Miami - have been forced to play their backup QBs.

Shurmur doesn't believe McCoy has taken an inordinate amount of punishment. In a violent game where some players' only objective is to get to the quarterback, getting hit comes with the territory. Shurmur calls Cleveland's offensive plays, and does so with his quarterback's health in mind.

''When you look around the league, in terms of quarterbacks getting hit, there are quarterbacks getting hit quite a bit,'' Shurmur said. ''(McCoy) has avoided some sacks. I try to make sure I call keeps and nakeds (bootlegs) to make sure I get him on the run and every once in a while he'll take one there.

''Yesterday, we had a couple of screen calls where he gets rid of the football and then it's kind of a glancing deal, so we try schematically to make sure we eliminate that.''

McCoy, who ran for 31 yards on eight carries, came up limping after completing a screen pass in the third quarter. He hobbled to the sideline, and for a second it appeared he might be seriously injured. But McCoy came right back in, and showed no obvious signs of being injured as the Browns (3-3) got to .500 after six games for just the third time since 1999.

There's no doubt about McCoy's toughness. The rest of his game isn't so certain.

Not surprisingly, McCoy's play has been scrutinized to the tiniest detail this season. Every throw, every decision and every play have been analyzed ad nauseam. Such is the life of a quarterback, but especially in Cleveland, where fans have endured constant change at the vital position.

Last week, Browns president Mike Holmgren was noncommittal when asked about McCoy's future beyond this season. He said McCoy has his full support and Cleveland's starting job for this year - only. The Browns will wait until after the season to evaluate McCoy and decide if he's the future.

On Sunday, McCoy said he had no problem with Holmgren's plan.

''I see that as a great thing,'' said McCoy, who improved to 5-9 as a starter. ''I think that's how he sees every person on our team and if he wouldn't have said it, I would have said the same thing. I evaluate myself after every game and especially after every season. You have to go back and look at things that were good and bad.

''You have to look at how you can improve.''

McCoy left plenty of room for that after his uneven performance on Sunday. He completed 20 of 35 passes for 178 yards with one interception. McCoy did a nice job managing the game as the Browns controlled the ball for nearly 43 minutes. There were positive moments and a few sour ones.

McCoy missed open receivers and threw behind them. Under constant pressure, he never got into a good rhythm, which has been a season-long problem. But perhaps his biggest knock was he failed to get the Browns into the end zone.

Still, Shurmur came away pleased with his progress.

''Colt's improving,'' he said. ''I thought he battled yesterday. He scrambled once and got a first down, he got outside the pocket a couple of times and got yards and got out of bounds, and he did a lot of good things. My focus - because it's become the focus of everybody in Northeast Ohio - is a fast start. So I look at the first two or three throws and I think we can still get better. I think that's something we can still do better. But I do think he battled and he's part of the reason we found a way to win.''

NOTES: Shurmur has no problem with Holmgren's tentative plan to hire an offensive coordinator during the offseason. Holmgren wants to free Shurmur from some of his duties next year, but will allow him to continue to call plays - if he wants to. ''I think that's an offseason discussion,'' Shurmur said. ''It's a natural thing to have a head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. I don't think it's abnormal, a team (New Orleans) scored 62 points last night, and their head coach calls the plays, so I don't think it's abnormal to see it go that way.'' ... Shurmur will put special emphasis on special teams after having two field goals blocked and a punt returned for a TD before it was called back by a penalty Sunday. Last week, the Browns gave up a kickoff return for a TD and were burned by a fake field goal for a TD. ''We'll try to make sure we tidy that up,'' he said. ... Shurmur gave his players the day off following the win.

Tagged: Browns, Colt McCoy

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