Joe Thomas: Having Josh McCown is 'huge advantage' for Browns

CLEVELAND -- Quarterback Josh McCown went from the subject of trade rumors to the Dallas Cowboys after Tony Romo suffered a broken back in the preseason to the starter for the Cleveland Browns when Robert Griffin III was placed on injured reserve because of a broken bone in his non-throwing shoulder.

On the heels of the Browns’ 29-10 season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field last Sunday, McCown takes over an offense set to play the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland Sunday, and for the most-tenured player in the locker room, that’s a good thing.

“It is a huge advantage for us because he was a starter last year,” nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas said of McCown. “We are probably in the best situation of any team to be able to handle the backup quarterback coming in and being the starter for a significant amount of time.

“You can see in preseason how badly other teams wanted Josh because of the trade rumors because of his experience as a starter. You do not find guys like that on very many rosters.”

In his first season with the Browns, McCown won the starting job out of training camp, but was hampered by injuries for the bulk of the year.

On the Browns’ very first drive of the 2015 season, McCown suffered a concussion while lunging for the end zone, and missed the following game. Later in the year, he played through shoulder and rib issues before succumbing to a broken collarbone in a Monday Night Football loss to the Ravens in late November.

When healthy, McCown proved to be an impactful player, as in eight games for the Browns, he completed 186 of his 292 attempts (63.7 percent) for 2,109 yards and 12 touchdowns against four interceptions.

Early last season, McCown broke a pair of franchise records in a 33-30 win over the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

McCown completed 36 of his 51 throws for 457 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Ravens. The 457 yards were a single-game franchise record, surpassing the previous mark of 444 collected by Brian Sipe against the Baltimore Colts on October 25, 1981.

For putting together a 457-yard, three-touchdown (two passing, one rushing) performance against the Ravens, McCown became the first Browns quarterback with three straight 300-yard passing games, and was recognized as the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.

“Josh is a pro’s pro,” Thomas said. “You do not survive 15, 16 years in the NFL without knowing how to take care of your business, even in the face of adversity.”

In Thomas’ opinion, McCown is the perfect player to have at the helm of the Browns’ offense, especially considering the fact that the team has just two proven pass catchers, tight end Gary Barnidge and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, and several players with three years or less of NFL experience.

“The good and bad about having rookies on this team across the board is they have a lot to learn, but we expect a lot of growth throughout the season,” Thomas said. “As they gain experience and as they have more practices in the system, we expect them to get significantly better. A team that is full of veterans is more polished at the beginning of the season, and they do not have as much room to grow.”


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