Browns' McCoy not cleared, season uncertain
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Colt McCoy has improved from his concussion. However, his status for this week, the rest of the season — and beyond — remains blurred.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Monday that McCoy has not been medically cleared to practice or play. No decision has been made on who will start at quarterback Saturday when Cleveland visits the Baltimore Ravens.
McCoy suffered a concussion on Dec. 8 when he was blasted on an illegal helmet-to-face mask hit by Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, who was suspended for the Steelers' game in San Francisco as punishment for the devastating shot.
Seneca Wallace started in McCoy's place Sunday at Arizona, and the veteran backup had some nice moments while passing for 226 yards and a touchdown in the Browns' 20-17 overtime loss.
Shurmur said McCoy was "improving and getting better" but avoided any QB controversy — for the moment— by saying it's too early to know if McCoy will be healthy enough to practice or face the Ravens.
"I'm going to cross that bridge when they're both healthy," he said. "Right now, until Colt's healthy, we're going to go with Seneca."
But what if Colt is cleared, will he start?
"If Colt is OK, when Colt's OK, we'll talk about that," Shurmur said, playfully dodging a series of questions on the touchy subject. "How's that? Good answer?"
It's the only answer for now, but things could change if McCoy passes his baseline concussion test, is allowed to resume practicing and wants to finish the season.
McCoy's concussion and the Browns' handling of his head injury brought the team under intense scrutiny last week. Both the NFL and NFL Players Association sent medical personnel to meet with the team to discuss the treatment of McCoy, who was never given the standard concussion test while he was on the sideline and returned to the game after sitting out just two plays.
The explanation given by Browns President Mike Holmgren for the lack of testing was because McCoy did not display concussion symptoms until after the game, and the team's medical staff did not see the Harrison hit because trainers and doctors were attending other injured players.
The league and union have discussed changes to their policy on concussions based on McCoy's case, which exposed some gray areas previously overlooked.
"We are in the process of discussing next steps," league spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Commissioner Roger Goodell told CBS he has taken part in several conference calls with the Browns "to make sure that our processes will protect from that happening again and anything else where a player is injured and should get proper care."
"One of the things that we want to do is make sure someone, a medical professional, has his eyes on the field at all times and can see when an injury occurs to somebody so the proper medical care is being given," Goodell said.
The NFLPA has not filed a grievance against the Browns.
McCoy stayed behind in Cleveland while the team traveled to Arizona, but Shurmur said the Browns remained in contact with the 25-year-old QB over the weekend. McCoy was sent home four times last week as he continued to experience headaches from Harrison's hit.
If McCoy has any lingering symptoms and is not well enough to practice, Shurmur's decision on a starter will be made for him. However, if McCoy is cleared, then things could get tricky for the Browns, who might be reluctant to put him out there against Baltimore's rugged defense on Christmas Eve.
The Browns have been rocked by concussions, with wide receiver Jordan Norwood and backup linebacker Ben Jacobs the latest to go down with head injuries sustained Sunday. Cleveland has had at least 11 reported concussions this season. Starting tight end Benjamin Watson was placed on injured reserve last week after suffering his third concussion since July.
McCoy's injury may complicate the Browns' evaluation of him. The second-year QB has had an inconsistent season, but he has also been hampered by injuries, dropped passes and the club's overall lack of playmakers. Shurmur, Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert may have seen enough to assess McCoy, who has gone 0-8 against division opponents.
Wallace seemed to spark the Browns, who carried a 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter before crumbling and clinching their eighth double-digit loss season in the past nine years. It was the third time this season Cleveland has failed to win after leading by 10 in the second half.
Shurmur, who was complimentary of Wallace, was asked if the nine-year vet made the Browns' offense better.
"I don't know about him in there compared to Colt," he said. "I'm constantly evaluating our players as we try to put together a plan to win games. There were some guys who probably showed up and flashed a little better than they have in the last couple weeks."
Notes: Browns players were not available for interviews. ... Shurmur said the team plans roster moves in the next day. TE Alex Smith sustained a "significant" shoulder injury, leaving the Browns with only two healthy tight ends: Evan Moore and rookie Jordan Cameron. .... LB Titus Brown has a "significant" knee injury. ... Shurmur offered a "no comment" when asked to discuss the ruling on Wallace's fourth-quarter fumble that gave the Cardinals the ball at Cleveland's 5. The initial call was reversed after a challenge by Arizona. TV replays appeared to show Wallace's wrist hitting the ground and dislodging the ball. Shurmur was also mum on Wallace being hit as he went out of bounds in OT. "I've said before those are league issues," he said.