McCown out; Kessler to start for Browns

Associated Press


Cleveland’s notorious quarterback carousel has thrown another rider.

Just two weeks into a new season, the Browns are down two starters.

“This is pro football and these things happen,” first-year coach Hue Jackson said. “Maybe not to this degree any place I have been.”

Welcome aboard, coach.

With Josh McCown out indefinitely after sustaining a “deep sprain” in his left shoulder during Sunday’s loss to Baltimore, the Browns will start rookie Cody Kessler this week at Miami.

McCown’s injury comes just a week after Robert Griffin III broke a bone in his left shoulder during the season opener at Philadelphia and will be sidelined for a minimum of eight games.

Jackson did not provide any specifics about the injury to McCown, who displayed toughness by staying in the game and absorbing several big hits while nearly leading the Browns (0-2) to a comeback win.

All that’s clear is that McCown won’t play this week, and that unless the Browns trade or sign a veteran in the next few days, Kessler will become the 26th starter for Cleveland since 1999 — and fifth in the past five games for the Browns, snake bitten at the game’s most important position.

“Obviously, he is the next guy up,” Jackson said of Kessler, a four-year starter at USC who struggled during training camp and the exhibition season. “Cody will be out there playing. There is no doubt about that.”

Jackson, though, was vague as he discussed the extent of McCown’s injury, a timetable for his return and any other options at quarterback.

At one point, Jackson joked that he might suit up next for the Browns. Jackson still has his sense of humor, but it could be tested in the coming weeks if the Browns, who play four of their next five games on the road, continue to lose quarterbacks at an alarming rate.

Jackson said Cleveland’s front office will consider signing an experienced QB, and there are some available free agents including Michael Vick, Charlie Whitehurst, Matt Flynn, and T.J. Yates.

The Browns are the first team since the 2008 Kansas City Chiefs to start three QBs in the first three weeks.

McCown’s injury was the only major one for the Browns, who also lost Cam Erving (bruised lung) and rookie defensive end Carl Nassib (broken hand) against the Ravens. Erving spent Sunday night in the hospital and will miss several games.

The 37-year-old McCown was injured in the first quarter, but remained in the game despite being in pain.

Afterward, he became emotional when he talked about wanting to stay on the field with his teammates.

“He is one of the toughest human beings I’ve seen play in a long time,” Jackson said. “He has the complete trust and respect of the locker room because of what he does and how he goes about it. He will fight to the bitter end.”

Late Monday, the Browns announced the signing of free-agent quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

Whitehurst worked out for Cleveland on Monday.

Jackson intends to start Kessler this week at Miami, but he now has another option in the 34-year-old Whitehurst, who spent last season with Tennessee and Indianapolis. He played in four games for the Colts before being placed on injured reserve.

Whitehurst has gone 2-7 in nine career NFL starts. He made five starts for the Titans in 2014.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was drafted in the third round by San Diego in 2006. Whitehurst played at Clemson.

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