July 1, 2016

Mostly clear

Colt McCoy’s love of Cleveland might not matter

BEREA — Browns quarterback Colt McCoy can’t make it any clearer. Even though he is no longer starting, he wants to remain in Cleveland.

“I got drafted here, I spent a lot of time here, I feel comfortable with what we’re doing, I love my teammates, I love this organization, I love this city,” McCoy said Tuesday at training camp.

Browns quarterback Colt McCoy goes back to pass against the Packers in last week’s preseason game. McCoy’s future in Cleveland is still up in the air. (AP PHOTO)

“We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, and I’m a Cleveland Brown. I’m a Cleveland Brown and proud to be one.”

The third-year pro made those comments within earshot of the man who took his spot on Cleveland’s first-team offense, rookie Brandon Weeden.

Seneca Wallace and Thaddeus Lewis also weren’t far away on the practice field, symbolically illustrating how the fate of all four quarterbacks is entwined.

While Weeden’s spot on the 53-man roster is secure, McCoy, Wallace and Lewis understand they could be traded or released before the NFL’s final cutdown on Aug. 31.

“If something does happen, that’s really out of my control,” said McCoy, who leads the team in completion percentage (.733) and passer rating (107.7) this preseason.

“What I can control is to come out here and work and prepare to be the best I can be for the Browns. Honestly, that’s my mindset right now.”

That said, the University of Texas graduate admits it “would be nice” if he knew where — or if — he will be playing when the regular season begins Sept. 9.

“I don’t approach practice or a game or meetings any differently,” McCoy said. “I really will continue to do the same thing, which is prepare and work and study. If I don’t get as many reps out here, I’ll grab a couple of guys after practice and throw some routes.”

Lewis echoed that sentiment, but added he was grateful just to have an opportunity to compete for a job after being released by the Rams last Sept. 3. His offensive coordinator with St. Louis was current Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur, who said he was “worth developing” the previous morning.

“I take that as a compliment, but you can’t read anything into it except if it’s told face-to-face,” said Lewis, who has never played in a regular-season game but is 50-of-68 for 611 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in 10 career exhibition contests.

“It’s never comfortable when you’re at the quarterback position, but it comes with the territory. You have to have a shield over your heart at all times.”

Heartbreak is still possible, as McCoy will tell you. After serving as the Browns’ starter for 1½ years, his reign essentially ended Dec. 8 when he suffered a concussion during a 14-3 loss in Pittsburgh.

McCoy missed the rest of the season, then lost his job in April when Cleveland chose Oklahoma State product Weeden in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Because of the soap opera-like scenario, it’s easy to forget McCoy is only 25 and hasn’t entered his prime, which is why he is keeping an open mind about the future.

When asked if he would like to have a fresh start, the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder admitted being conflicted.

“Look, I’m telling you as honest as I can tell you, I don’t know,” said McCoy, who is married and has already published a quasi-autobiography with his parents.

“I couldn’t be more proud to be here for Cleveland, for this city, for the fans, for my teammates. I mean, I’ve played with those guys for all year last year and a little bit of my first year, so I’ve got a lot invested with them. I’m doing it for them, too, not just myself.”

In the meantime, McCoy and the other QBs will continue to bide their time, waiting for the Browns to unveil their plans.

Shurmur won’t reveal whether McCoy or Wallace will serve as the No. 2 quarterback Friday when Cleveland hosts the Philadelphia Eagles, so it’s a stretch to think the coach will make the “big decision” anytime soon.

“That’s not my job to worry about any of it,” said McCoy, who was Weeden’s primary backup in the Browns’ first two preseason contests. “My job is to come in here and be ready to play and work and compete, and we’ve still got two more preseason games. I’m focusing on the Eagles now.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.