BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Josh McCown threw some tight spirals and did more in practice, testing his sore ribs to see if he can start on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
McCown, who sat out last week's loss in Cincinnati, looked good making throws and moving around in rainy, windy conditions during the 30 minutes of practice open to reporters as the Browns (2-7) prepared to play the Steelers (5-4).
More from FoxSports
Coach Mike Pettine said the Browns will have a better idea following Thursday's workout whether McCown is healthy enough to start. If he can't play, Johnny Manziel will make his second straight start.
"By the end of the day, we'll probably have a decent idea of where he is and what we'll do for the weekend," Pettine said before practice.
McCown injured his ribs in the second half on Nov. 1 against Arizona. He practiced for the first time since Oct. 30 on Wednesday, and Pettine said the 36-year-old showed progress.
"You could tell he's sore, but he was functional," Pettine said.
McCown, who last week complained of having trouble breathing and sleeping because of his ribs, said Wednesday he was feeling better and optimistic about playing.
"We'll see how I feel when I wake up and as we go throughout the day," McCown said. "Each day, I felt like we gained a little ground, maybe not as much as I would like, but I feel like it's improving and that's a good thing."
Manziel played well in the first half of his fourth career start against the Bengals, but was bottled up after halftime in a 31-10 loss.
The Browns are expected to be short-handed on defense as Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner are still following the NFL's concussion protocol.
Also, starting left guard Joel Bitonio will not play because of a badly sprained ankle, giving rookie Cam Erving -- a first-round pick this year -- his first career start.