Although he helped secure the Cleveland Browns’ first victory last week, Johnny Manziel is set to return to the sidelines.
Having recovered from a concussion, Josh McCown will lead the Browns in Sunday’s home game against the Oakland Raiders.
Manziel threw for two touchdowns for the first time last weekend – for a combined 110 yards to Travis Benjamin – and earned his first victory in three starts, 28-14 over Tennessee. That performance reportedly had Mike Pettine pondering whether to start the 2014 first-round pick even if McCown was healthy, but the Browns coach ultimately decided on the veteran.
"(McCown has) done everything that we’ve asked of him in the offseason so far this year. He earned the right to be our starting quarterback," Pettine said. "We feel he gives us the best opportunity to win on Sunday. That was truly the basis for the decision.
"That being said, I thought Johnny did an outstanding job with his opportunity."
McCown completed five of eight passes for 49 yards on his only start for the Browns on Sept. 13 and looked poised on a 90-yard opening drive against the New York Jets, but was injured while trying to dive for a score in a 31-10 loss.
McCown will try to pick up where he left off while sending Cleveland (1-1) to its best start since 2011 and a fourth consecutive home win over Oakland (1-1).
After losing starting quarterback Derek Carr in their opener, the Raiders got him back from a hand injury for a 37-33 victory over Baltimore last Sunday. Carr’s third touchdown with 26 seconds left – a 12-yarder to Seth Roberts – provided the margin in coach Jack Del Rio’s first win with the franchise.
Carr also threw for a career-best 351 yards with a combined 220 to Michael Crabtree and No. 4 overall draft pick Amari Cooper. The trio could exploit a Browns secondary that will be without starting nickel back K’Waun Williams, who suffered his third concussion in the past year at some point recently and will be held out of this game.
"(Carr) has a much deeper wide receiver room than a year ago," Pettine said. "Amari Cooper does not look like a rookie. He’s already made some big plays for them. The Crabtree signing was big for them. He’s already proven he can make some big plays."
While Oakland’s offense has looked better, the defense has given up a league-high 889 yards and 66 points.
"I think we took a step forward as a football team," Del Rio said. "Offensively some of the things we were talking about a week ago, were a lot better this week. We’re looking to make the same kind of jump on defense."
The Raiders gave up 306 yards to the Browns – 39 on the ground – Oct. 26 in Cleveland but lost 23-13. Carr had 328 yards and threw his lone touchdown in the game with seven seconds left.
Oakland has dropped 11 straight and 19 of 20 away from home. The Raiders also haven’t earned back-to-back wins since October 2012.
"You have to travel well. It has to be business-like in your approach. … You’re going really with the mission to put all of your energies toward the game, toward your teammates and doing all you can in your role," Del Rio said. "So how we travel is important. We’ll do that. And just bring the kind of attention that you need to have as a football team when you go on the road."
McCown, who started nine games for the Raiders in 2007, has never faced them.
Benjamin has tied his receiving TD total of 2014 with three. He added a 78-yard punt return for a score last week.
Browns end Armonty Bryant had 2 1/2 sacks last week, nearly matching his total from his first 18 games, and Cleveland finished with seven – its most in three seasons.
Carr has been sacked once in his 58 passing plays this year.
Current Brown and former Raiders defensive end Desmond Bryant’s status is uncertain due to a shoulder injury that made him a limited participant last week.
Cleveland has won nine of the past 12 matchups.