Published August 31, 2012
CLEVELAND – Colt McCoy gained confidence. Seneca Wallace stayed cool.
Now that their summer-long competition is over, the two quarterbacks fighting for one backup job can only sit and wait for a decision.
Like a pass spiraling down field, it's out of their hands.
"We'll see what happens," Wallace said.
With rookie starter Brandon Weeden on the sideline resting for his NFL opener, McCoy and Wallace got their final chance to impress Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur on Thursday night in a 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears, who scored two touchdowns off Browns miscues in the second half to pull away.
While speculation continues over a possible trade, Shurmur, who has kept a poker face for weeks during the McCoy vs. Wallace duel, wouldn't reveal his plans as the Browns prepared to trim their roster from 75 to the NFL-required, 53-man limit by Friday night.
"I do know what I want to do," Shurmur said. "I'm just not telling you."
Josh McCown threw two touchdown passes in the first half as the Bears (3-1) closed the exhibition season with an impressive win. Playing the entire game, McCown finished 20 of 29 for 157 yards and the two TDs. He'll sit behind starter Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell, but at least the 33-year-old showed he's still got something left.
"To get the feel and rhythm of a whole game felt good," McCown said. "For the most part, we went out and executed well. All I know is when you take the field and they turn the lights on, you've got to go out and play hard."
For the Browns (2-2), this was the last act of a backup quarterback drama that has engulfed training camp.
McCoy, who lost his starting job to Weeden in training camp, went 2 of 5 for 16 yards and an interception. Wallace completed 3 of 4 attempts for 36 yards and a touchdown. Neither looked particularly sharp, and it's not clear if the performances swayed Shurmur.
"All three quarterbacks played like backups tonight," said Shurmur, adding Thad Lewis to the mix. "I'll just leave it at that. I can see a lot of different scenarios."
Browns general manager Tom Heckert spent more than 30 minutes before the game speaking to incoming owner Jimmy Haslam III on the field. It's safe to assume Cleveland's final cuts were part of their conversation and undoubtedly the QB situation was mentioned as well.
Cleveland has discussed trading McCoy with several teams, but Shurmur has continually said he's been impressed with the way his former starter has handled his demotion and may want to keep him as insurance should Weeden get hurt.
McCoy felt he did all he could to win a roster spot.
"I wouldn't say I'm worried," he said. "I've practiced well. I've improved. I feel confident."
Wallace can envision both he and McCoy staying around. He also knows that with a $2.4 million salary — McCoy is set to make $540,000 — he could get cut.
"This isn't my first rodeo," the nine-year veteran said. "I felt like I've done all I've can. Whatever decision is made is made. Hopefully, I get the opportunity to come back and be here with this team. We're doing some good things, bringing a lot of young talent. I feel like we're moving in the right direction."
Shurmur has more to worry about than naming a backup QB.
Cleveland's special teams were bad again, and rookie running back Trent Richardson still hasn't returned after undergoing knee surgery on Aug. 9.
Phil Dawson's 39-yard field goal brought the Browns within 14-10 in the third before the Bears struck quickly.
First, cornerback Greg McCoy picked off Lewis and returned it 15 yards for a TD. Moments later, Bears linebacker Patrick Trahan shoved Rod Windsor into punter Reggie Hodges, whose kick caromed off his teammate's back and Brittan Golden scooped it up and ran 22 yards for the score.
Rookie Adonis Thomas flipped over from the 1 in the fourth to pull Cleveland within 28-17.
Shurmur rested Weeden for the opener against Philadelphia and he watched from the sideline as McCoy, who started 13 games last season before being sidelined with a severe concussion, struggled.
On McCoy's first pass, he never took his eyes off Greg Little and nearly got his wide receiver pummeled. When Cleveland got the ball back, McCoy threw high to Jordan Norwood and was intercepted by Chicago backup free safety Jeremy Jones.
On the first play following the turnover, McCown waited for wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher to get behind rookie Trevin Wade, and the Bears' versatile wide receiver made a diving, one-handed TD grab. The play stood following an official replay.
"Typical Dane," Bears coach Lovie Smith said of the former Ohio State star. "When we throw him the ball, he makes plays. He's a Buckeye, so I know he was looking forward to this game. It's always special to come back home."
Bears running backs Lorenzo Booker (81) and Armando Allen (83) combined for 164 yards on 31 attempts. They're competing for a spot behind Matt Forte and Michael Bush.
"This was a Super Bowl for a bunch of players tonight," Smith said. "Booker and Allen stepped up and made play after play."
NOTES: Browns rookie LB James-Michael Johnson injured his side in the first half and did not return. Shurmur said X-rays were negative. Losing Johnson would be a huge blow since he's expected to start if LB Scott Fujita has to serve his 3-game suspension for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal. The Browns are already missing LB Chris Gocong, out for the season with a torn Achilles. ... Booker and NT Brian Price sustained head injuries.
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