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Browns coach Hue Jackson: QB Cody Kessler has "good chance" to play Sunday against Titans; Josh McCown set to return

BEREA -- Coach Hue Jackson might have a decision to make regarding his starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

BEREA — Coach Hue Jackson might have a decision to make regarding his starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
Then again, the medical staff may make it for him.
The always-complicated Browns quarterback situation is as messy as ever, with plenty of moving parts. They’ve had three starters and used five quarterbacks in the 0-5 start.
Jackson said Monday rookie Cody Kessler has a “good chance” to play against the Titans. He left the 33-13 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday in the first quarter with chest and rib injuries and didn’t return.
Jackson expects him to practice Wednesday when on-field preparations begin and be able to play, but acknowledged he’s day-to-day and pain tolerance will be a factor. Kessler had his chest wrapped in ice Monday in the locker room.
“Every day’s going to change,” Jackson said. “So we’ll see where he is then.”
Josh McCown, 37, has been cleared to return to practice Wednesday and expects to be ready for Sunday. He suffered a non-displaced break of the left collarbone in Week 2.
Jackson knew the question was coming and didn’t let the reporter finish it: Will McCown return to his starting role when he’s deemed healthy?
“Haven’t made that decision, because he hasn’t practiced,” Jackson said. “So I don’t think we need to go there just yet.”
McCown’s collarbone broke on a big hit in the first quarter against the Ravens on Sept. 18. He finished the game but was in a sling the next day.
He’s been trying to fast-forward the recovery since, and the next step is to go through the practice week in one piece.
“Anytime you find yourself in a situation like our team is where it’s gone this way and you’re 0-5, it’s all hands on deck and you gotta want to help,” McCown said. “You just want to help any way you can.”
The season began with Robert Griffin III as the starter, but he broke a bone in his left shoulder in the opener and will miss at least eight games and possibly the rest of the season.
Kessler, a third-round pick who wasn’t expected to play so early this season, if at all, was forced into action in Week 3 and performed well in three straight starts. He’s completed 66.7 percent for 529 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and an 87.9 rating.
He led a 75-yard touchdown drive against the Patriots, finishing it with an 11-yard touchdown to Andrew Hawkins on a nice throw into the corner. He was 5-for-8 for 62 yards and a 126.0 rating before linebacker Dont’a Hightower drove him into the ground on a failed screen pass.
X-rays were negative and Kessler went through more tests Monday. He was in obvious pain after the game.
“There is a good chance that he will have an opportunity to be out there this week,” Jackson said. “I’m talking about the game. Hopefully, the game.”
Journeyman Charlie Whitehurst replaced Kessler against the Patriots but hyperextended his left knee in the fourth quarter. The knee was wrapped Monday and he limped through the locker room.
“I’m sure that will be day-to-day, as well,” Jackson said. “I think we will have three guys standing out there. We will be able to pick somebody out of the group.”
Jackson said he didn’t know if the Browns would sign another quarterback. Rookie Kevin Hogan could be promoted from the practice squad in an emergency.
Jackson is desperate for his first victory with the Browns, and Tennessee (2-3) looks like one of the best chances on the schedule. So he might try to keep the Titans guessing on his starter for a while longer.
“He is going to go out there and throw it around and move around and see how he feels,” he said of McCown.
If McCown and Kessler are both ready to go, Jackson would have to choose between a veteran who might give him the best chance for victory and a rookie who’s impressed with his poise and play.
“He did some good things and made some good decisions with the ball,” Jackson said of Kessler vs. the Patriots. “The more he grows, the better he gets.”
Veteran lineman John Greco said it would be great if Kessler is able to build on the momentum from his first three starts.
“I know he’s going to do everything he can to get out there,” Greco said. “He’s a competitor. He loves playing with us, and we love playing for him.”
Greco wasn’t picking sides. McCown became an instant locker room favorite last year and earned even more respect by absorbing big hit after big hit to finish the loss to the Ravens.
“I know Josh. I’m sure he wanted to play that following week,” Greco said. “But now that he’s got some rest it’ll be good to have his leadership out there with us actually on the field.
“His physical presence is huge for this team and if he’s out there it’s awesome for us.”
McCown was the clear-cut starter before the injury but said he didn’t have an expectation as to whether he would regain the job.
“I expect to go back and play wherever they want me to play and when they want me to play,” he said. “The bigger focus for me right now is getting to a point and a place where I feel healthy, and can go back and do the things they need me to do when they ask me to, so we’ll find that out Wednesday.”
By then the cloudy quarterback picture should be at least a bit clearer.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or [email protected] Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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