BEREA: Browns coach Pat Shurmur will start Colt McCoy in the preseason finale Thursday against the Chicago Bears to either showcase him for potential trade partners or to make sure he clears one last hurdle en route to being named the team’s No. 2 quarterback.
There’s not much certainty surrounding the backup quarterback situation, but it is clear the starter, rookie Brandon Weeden, will get the night off because Shurmur is satisfied with the amount of snaps Weeden took in the first three exhibition games. Shurmur obviously doesn’t believe it makes sense to push his luck and risk Weeden suffering an injury, considering the first-string offense has been on the field for more than 100 plays in three practice games.
Plus, in Shurmur’s mind, Weeden is ready for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I think he’s very prepared,” Shurmur said Tuesday after practice. “I think he’s had an outstanding camp. I thought he had an outstanding offseason and really he’s kind of improved every day. So for a guy that’s going through this for the first time as a pro, I think he’s very ready.”
Weeden won’t be the only starter who rests on the sidelines Thursday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, Shurmur said.
“For the most part, the guys that are ‘ones’ will play very little if at all,” Shurmur said. “I’ll keep the [other] names private at this point.”
In addition to McCoy, Seneca Wallace and Thaddeus Lewis will play against the Bears, Shurmur said. The competition between McCoy and Wallace for the No. 2 quarterback job is still up in the air, Shurmur said.
There’s probably only enough room for one of them on the roster because Shurmur believes Lewis is “worth developing” and seems to want to keep him.
“I think as they’re out there playing, we’re gathering information about whether they’re gonna be a member of the 53 [-man roster],” Shurmur said.
On Sunday, Shurmur praised McCoy much more than he had all summer. He said he respects the way McCoy has handled the situation and believes he has grown during his second year in the West Coast offense.
“I’m starting to feel very comfortable, but not in a way that I don’t need to continue to work,” McCoy said Tuesday. “Having a year and an offseason within what we’re trying to do, I’m starting to really focus on a lot of other things other than just specifically our offense. I’m watching defenses, watching blitzes. I am getting a grasp as a whole of what playing fast as a quarterback feels like.”
Whether it’s enough for the Browns to keep McCoy remains to be seen.
Starting strongside linebacker Scott Fujita returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out since injuring his left knee Aug. 10 against the Detroit Lions. He missed the final seven games of the 2010 season with a torn MCL in the same knee.
Fujita did not participate in team drills, but he looked good running sprints on the side of the field.
“I’ve made a lot of progress, and I’m hopeful I’ll be ready for Week 1,” Fujita said.
Whether he’s allowed to play is another story. Fujita is still fighting the three-game suspension the NFL gave him for his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal, but he reiterated he’s hopeful he won’t be forced to miss time.
An appeal hearing for a grievance ruling is scheduled for Thursday in New York. U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan has indicated she will wait for that decision before ruling in federal court.
“We’re still waiting on a decision,” Fujita said. “But I’m optimistic and preparing as if I’ll be playing in the first game.”
Other injury updates
Tight end Jordan Cameron joined the list of players sidelined with injuries Tuesday. Cameron suffered a bone bruise in his lower back against the Lions, but he played Friday night against the Eagles and practiced earlier this week. It’s unknown whether he has a new injury or aggravated his back.
In addition to Cameron, the following eight players sat out during practice: cornerback Dimitri Patterson (right ankle), running back Chris Ogbonnaya (left ankle), rookie running back Trent Richardson (had arthroscopic surgery on left knee Aug. 9), strong safety Ray Ventrone (right hamstring), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (right knee), offensive lineman Oniel Cousins (right leg), tight end Benjamin Watson (undisclosed) and defensive tackle Phil Taylor (had surgery to repair torn pectoral muscle May 16 and is on the physically unable to perform list).
Strong safety David Sims and defensive lineman Brian Schaefering returned to practice after sitting out Monday with undisclosed injuries.
Rookie linebacker Emmanuel Acho, a sixth-round draft pick, was placed on injured reserve Monday with an injured knee, Shurmur said. … Strong safety T.J. Ward intercepted a pass from Lewis during a seven-on-seven drill. … Wide receiver Rod Windsor dropped two passes from Wallace in 11-on-11 action.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.