By Tony Grossi
Extra Points …
Remembering No. 12: It took six days of Browns training camp for coach Pat Shurmur to be asked a question about Colt McCoy.
Think about that for a moment.
When the Browns drafted Brandon Weeden in the first round and then decided to bring back McCoy to “compete,” the concern was that there might be some distractions, if not downright awkwardness, pitting the new franchise hope against the defrocked starter.
But it’s been anything like that. McCoy, relegated exclusively to work with the second team, hasn’t been a subject of conversation until the sixth day and the fifth practice. When a reporter asked Shurmur out of the blue how McCoy was doing, Shurmur feigned surprise at the mention of McCoy’s name.
Shurmur appears well aware and satisfied that the drama has been naturally defused without him having to even announce Weeden as the starting quarterback. That hasn’t necessarily been because of the coach’s deft handling of the situation as much as the obvious difference in the two quarterbacks’ physical abilities.
On the day after camp’s first “off day,” Weeden was loaded for bear and distributed ropes to tight ends and soft fades for wideouts in red zone drills. McCoy had his usual share of throws a tad too low or behind, causing the intended target to turn and otherwise break his stride. He wasn’t awful; he was just Colt.
Still a good guy: “I missed you guys,” McCoy cracked at one point to the media surrounding him.
Reporters have generally given McCoy his space, partly out of sympathy, I suppose, and partly because his answers have been delivered by rote. There is no sign yet that McCoy is anxious to speak from his heart about how swiftly his career as Browns starter ended.
“I can’t control anything other than coming out and getting better,” he said. “Today is, what, the third day in pads. I had a great day. We installed red zone. Obviously, I’m still learning, still growing, still maturing. As far as that natural progression, I couldn’t be more pleased with where I am right now.
“I feel like I’m throwing the ball well. My body is healthy. Everything’s comfortable.”
A year ago, McCoy was thrown into the fire without the benefit of a normal offseason and without a legitimate competition with Seneca Wallace for the job. It was just assumed that he would grow quickly into the position. Of course, a soap opera unfolded – collapse of the Peyton Hillis-led running game, no productive targets, unsteady protection and, ultimately, The Hit by James Harrison.
McCoy chooses at this time not to cry a river about his lot.
“If you talk about our team, which is what I’d like to keep it as, I think everybody’s getting to their spots faster, guys kind of understand what we’re doing a little more,” he said. “It’s amazing what an offseason will do -- a little consistency, guys starting to play a little faster. For me, it’s natural. The game’s slowed down for me. I go out every day and try to get better. I’m still competing, working my tail off.”
The future: A team source told me, “We are not going to give him away. He’s healthy, he’s young, he’s got starting experience.”
So the waiting game continues on McCoy’s future. Try as he might, he does not appear overly enthusiastic about the dead-end position in which he now finds himself.
“Look, all I’ve been told is to come out here and compete,” he said. “I love the game. I want to play. I love Cleveland. That’s what I want to do for my team -- come out and compete.”
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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