BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The winless Browns have hit the rewind button on their quarterback shuffle.
Josh McCown, who broke his left collarbone five weeks ago, will return to the starting lineup Sunday when Cleveland hosts the New York Jets. The Browns have used an NFL-high six quarterbacks this season.
The 14th-year pro has been sidelined since Sept. 18, when he was injured in the first quarter against Baltimore. McCown played every offensive snap against the Ravens, passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
“To be back out there is exciting, and I’m looking forward to battling with the guys and focusing on getting this win,” McCown said Friday.
“I try to go to work every day with the mindset that this is the only thing that matters. There is great value in being in the moment and enjoying that moment. Maximizing each day is my goal.”
McCown was medically cleared to play two days earlier, and coach Hue Jackson chose him as the starter following the team’s morning walkthrough. He began the season as the backup to Robert Griffin III before both injured their non-throwing shoulders.
Rookie Cody Kessler, who had been the starter since Week 3, suffered a concussion last week at Cincinnati and remains in the NFL’s head trauma protocol.
“The last time Josh played, he showed tremendous poise and toughness to play the game,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, we will go out and protect him and give him a chance to lead this team.”
The Browns have started three signal callers in losing their first seven games. Griffin fractured his left shoulder in the opener at Philadelphia, McCown was hurt in Week 2 and third-round pick Kessler got the nod for the last five contests.
Charlie Whitehurst and Kevin Hogan each threw 24 passes as injury replacements, while wide receiver Terrelle Pryor completed 5 of 9 throws as a change-of-pace QB.
Hogan and fellow rookie Joe Callahan will serve as McCown’s backups against the Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“Seeing Josh at practice gave a jolt of energy to everybody because he’s a guy you love to have on your team,” two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden said. “He loves the game, he’s such a competitor, he’s so smart, and he runs the offense very, very well.
“When you have Josh under center, you feel like you definitely have a really good chance to win any game that we go into.”
McCown, 37, is the oldest player on the roster by six years. His professionalism and blue-collar work ethic have transcended the age gap, making him one of the most respected leaders in the locker room since signing with Cleveland in 2015.
The native Texan started eight games last season, throwing for 2,109 yards and 12 touchdowns with a team-best 93.3 passer rating. McCown set a franchise record with 457 passing yards at Baltimore on Oct. 11, 2015.
“Josh is an older guy, but I am really close with him, one of the closest dudes I am with on the team,” said rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman, who turned 22 in July. “He is a great leader and mentor. He is a soldier. And he is one hell of a football player, too.”
Notes: Haden (groin) is listed as questionable, but he said he plans on returning from a two-week absence against the Jets. . Cornerback Jamar Taylor (groin) — the starter opposite Haden — came up lame Thursday in practice and is questionable. . Coleman, who broke a bone on the top of his right hand on Sept. 21, has not been cleared to catch passes. The No. 15 overall draft selection is running routes and working out.