Browns turn to McCown in Week 2 vs. Ravens
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh had seen Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown make some spectacular plays against his team.
He will get another look at his old foe in Week 2 with McCown starting in place of Robert Griffin III, who suffered a potentially season-ending shoulder injury in the season opener against Philadelphia.
“He's been on fire against us,” Harbaugh said about McCown. “He has thrown balls up in the air. A guy catches it with his feet for a touchdown last year. I remember this guy just having no conscience and just throwing the ball in there and completing passes against us. We have a lot of respect for him. We know what kind of a player he is. We know how good he is, and he's super good against us. We know we have our hands full. It will be all hands on deck to get ready for the offense led by Josh McCown.”
The Browns are starting multiple quarterbacks for an NFL record 15th straight season, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The 37-year-old McCown has managed to win two of his three starts against Baltimore, sometimes in the most uncanny way.
On one particular sequence last season, McCown threw an 18-yard pass that tight end Gary Barnidge caught between his legs while falling to the turf. McCown would eventually throw for a franchise record 457 yards in Cleveland's 33-30 overtime victory in Baltimore.
The Ravens, however, ended McCown's season almost two months later when the veteran quarterback suffered a broken collarbone. Baltimore got a measure of revenge with a 33-27 win.
McCown acknowledged he will be facing a much different Baltimore team, especially with All-Pro linebacker Terrell Suggs back in the lineup after missing most of last season with a torn Achilles tendon.
“They obviously had a good game this weekend against Buffalo,” McCown said prior to Wednesday's practice. “They are flying around and they are doing a good job with their defense. They have good players and good leadership over there. It will be on us to take this gameplan and master it in these next three or four days and then go out and execute it against them.”
Despite McCown's success, the Ravens have won seven of its past eight games in Cleveland. Baltimore is looking to build on a hard-fought 13-7 victory over the Bills in the opener. The Ravens defense allowed just 160 total yards and completely Buffalo's running attack, which was the best in the NFL last season.
Quarterback Joe Flacco does not appear to be hampered by the season-ending knee injury he suffered in 2015, which does not bode well for Cleveland. Flacco is 13-2 all-time against the Browns and has thrown 19 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
Baltimore might have suffered a setback with wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who missed practice Wednesday with a calf issue, according to the injury report released by the team. Earlier in the day, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh declined to elaborate on the injury.
Perriman missed all of last season with a right knee injury. He then partially tore the ACL in his left knee in the final OTAs, but was able to return in late August.
Perriman played 21 snaps in the regular season opener against the Bills and managed an impressive 35-yard reception where he leaped over Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore. If Perriman is not active, rookie Chris Moore could take his place.
The Browns will look for rookie defensive end Carl Nassib to keep the pressure on Flacco. In his regular season debut against Philadelphia, Nassib was effective and finished with three tackles, including a sack.
The Ravens will counter with a pair of rookies of their own. First-round pick Ronnie Stanley is entrenched at left tackle, while Alex Lewis, a fourth-round selection, won the job at left guard. Last week, Baltimore became the first team since the 1995 Carolina Panthers to start a pair of rookies on the left side of the offensive line in a regular-season opener.
The Ravens enter Week 2 fully healthy, which is already an encouraging sign. Baltimore had placed 20 players on IR last season, which played a large part in a disappointing 5-11 finish.
Tight end Dennis Pitta is one those players that has battled injuries. He is returning to Cleveland for the first time since he suffered a second dislocated hip on Sept. 21, 2014, at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Pitta looked solid in Baltimore's opener and has not shown any lingering effects from the hip injury. He does not have any reservations about returning to Cleveland.
“The last time I was on that field, it wasn't the best memory,” Pitta said. “I don't anticipate really even thinking about it. I'm just excited for another opportunity to be on the field and get a little bit better.”