Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 12/26/11
Browns coach Pat Shurmur held out the possibility that Colt McCoy could return Sunday when the Browns (thankfully) end their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also said McCoy has not yet been cleared to practice. And he said this while saying that he did not mean to be vague or avoid questions, and while listening to a soliloquy from ex-Browns coach Sam Rutigliano about how impressed Rutigliano has been with how hard the team is playing. This head-scratcher of a news conference took place the day after Christmas. So perhaps there were visions of sugar plums still dancing in folks' heads. Or something like that. Because not much else would explain the murkiness of things -- without trying to be vague of course. McCoy was in the building in Berea Monday. Shurmur said he worked out and took part in all meetings. But he said he would not get into whether McCoy would play until Wednesday except to say if he practiced there was a chance he'd play. He also said when asked if McCoy could meet the media that he didn't know if McCoy had been cleared to practice. If he's not cleared, he doesn't do interviews. Both of these are rather remarkable statements. There could be an internal debate about McCoy. Some within the organization might feel McCoy would benefit from one more game against Pittsburgh, especially since the draft seems to be shaking out in ways that mean the Browns might not take a quarterback in April. Another attempt to slay the giant might be good for McCoy. It also could be dangerous for his health, especially coming off a kill-shot from James Harrison that produced a concussion whose effects still linger. The Browns didn't see the hit on the sidelines (insert head scratch here), but they evidently can see the seriousness of the injury. But one would presume that a head coach of a team heading into the final practice week of the season might have a good understanding whether he'd have the guy who started 13 games for the final game. One would think he'd know if the guy sent back on the field with a concussion would be ready for his team by Sunday. But this is the Browns. Not to be vague, of course. Shurmur was asked if McCoy would be the starter if he were cleared, and he said: We won't cross that bridge yet. Which, with apologies to the coach, was a tad vague, because Shurmur did not specify the bridge. At this point, it's hard to grasp exactly what McCoy gains by returning to face a Pittsburgh defense that knows it needs to play well to keep its hopes for the AFC North title alive. A Pittsburgh win combined with a Cincinnati win over Baltimore (the Bengals are playing to clinch a wild card spot) gives the Steelers a first-round bye as well. Safe to say the Steelers know the importance of the game. Consider a year ago, when the Steelers also visited Cleveland for the season finale. That Steelers group needed a win to clinch the division. They embarrassed McCoy and the Browns 41-9, and treated the Cleveland team like a bunch of high schoolers. This season, Pittsburgh gave McCoy a concussion. Pittsburgh has won 15-of-16 against the Browns, including games in Cleveland that ended 43-0, 41-0 and 41-9. The Steelers may be using backup quarterback Charlie Batch, but the picture still is not pretty. For McCoy, yes, there is the matter of experience vs. Pittsburgh, and of playing in December, and of facing down the team that knocked him into next week. As Shurmur said, the Browns are not scared. But all those positives are balanced by returning from a concussion in a game that means nothing to further a season that has gone nowhere. For McCoy, it might bet best to shut things down and point to 2012, when he may or may not be the Browns quarterback. Not to be vague, of course.
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