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That Browns quarterback competition sounds over before it started

Mar 27, 2012 -- 2:45pm

By Tony Grossi


Extra points …

Palm Beach, Fla.

Full circle: Echoing comments previously made by his bosses, coach Pat Shurmur said here Tuesday that the Browns are committed to surrounding Colt McCoy with better players.

Which would make McCoy the team’s starting quarterback.

That might be no surprise to anyone but Seneca Wallace. Say, whatever happened to that open competition, Wallace may be wondering. When did it start? When did it end?

“I would say, yeah, we're going to look at them competing to get better,” Shurmur said at NFL owners meetings. “I wouldn't say much more than that about it.”

Hmm. Does Wallace think he deserves to compete for the starting job?

“Well, I think he told you all that,” Shurmur said. “I think that's good. You want guys that are competitive.”

So now the Browns are determined to give McCoy a second chance to prove that he can be a winning quarterback.

“Moving forward, yeah,” Shurmur said. “With the understanding, though, that there's going to be some competition to make sure that we put the right guy on the field.”

But Shurmur is not ready to formally name McCoy the starting quarterback for the 2012 season opener.

“I don't think there's going to be any announcement here,” Shurmur said. “Colt McCoy, when we line up and do things, will take the first snaps.”

Well, somebody has to take the first snap of practice. It just sounds to me now that Wallace can’t win the starting job. That McCoy can only lose it.

What happened?: After the belated trade attempt for Robert Griffin III failed, the Browns discussed alternative plans at quarterback. Their conclusion was their best chance at success was surrounding McCoy with better players and a full coaching staff that now includes offensive coordinator Brad Childress.

They know what they have in Wallace. They’re still not sure what they have in McCoy.

“I want to see him have a (normal) offseason,” Shurmur said. “I want to see him compete. I want to see him be able to execute with some detailed knowledge of what we're doing after already doing it. It takes a while for a guy to learn to play quarterback in this league, even if they've been successful in college.

“When you stand back and play quarterback in college, there's a lot of receivers open. You have your choice. At this level, everything gets challenged.”

I was convinced two weeks ago the Browns would not blow a first-round pick  reaching for quarterback prospects Ryan Tannehill or Brandon Weeden. I’m more sure of it now.

Refreshed and ready to go: McCoy’s season ended with him still suffering concussion symptoms caused by headhunter James Harrison’s helmet-to-facemask cheap shot. Shurmur said McCoy was medically cleared by an independent neurologist “soon after” the season ended.

But what about his state of mind now, after the RG3 flirtation and after conjecture about pursuing free agent Matt Flynn? How will McCoy feel about soon-to-come pre-draft visits from Tannehill and Weeden?

“I've communicated with Colt probably about once a week through the offseason, whether it's a text or phone call. And I think his state of mind is good,” Shurmur said.

“The one thing about players, and it's easy to write about the fact they may get

sensitive, (but) they're used to that feeling that you get when somebody might come in and play your position. I think players, competitive guys, are used to that so that they can get their mind right and compete. The work isn't done yet. But I've said all along I'm looking forward to him getting better and being our guy.”

Coming soon: We’ll have more tidbits from Shurmur in Wednesday’s Morning Kickoff, including his take on his unusual first season as Browns coach.

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@espncleveland.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

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