1. Preparation vital to Browns QB Austin Davis
For months, Austin Davis worked behind the scenes to ensure his Browns debut, whenever it happened, would go as relatively smoothly as his impromptu appearance did Monday.
"I hate feeling unprepared for anything, especially being a quarterback on an NFL football team," Davis said after Wednesday's practice. "I feel like there are so many people that are counting on you and looking at you to play well. The fact of letting people down bothers me. I think that is where it comes from. I think is where the hard work and the prep comes from. I just think it is a big responsibility."
That mindset is a big reason why Davis will ride the momentum he created during a solid performance against the Ravens into his first start as a member of the Cleveland Browns. Asked to evaluate Davis' skill set, Browns coach Mike Pettine first mentioned the mental handle Davis has of the position and what's expected from him within Cleveland's offense.
Throughout the first half of the season, Davis maintained he was simply preparing himself to play and wasn't worried about his standing in the pecking order. He was largely inactive on game days, but his plate was full.
"The biggest thing was learning the offense. Figure out how to get out of the huddle. Like I said before, it was really just a terminology change for me," Davis said. "Football plays-wise, I was familiar with pretty much everything we were doing. Very similar system, so it is just a matter of learning the terminology, the guys, the cadence and stuff like that. It just comes with time."
The time, for Davis, is now.
He's only been guaranteed a start Sunday, as Pettine said earlier in the day the Browns would take a week-to-week approach to the position. He declined to lament on anything about his previous appearance, which saw him lead the Browns to a game-tying touchdown drive by connecting with Travis Benjamin on a 42-yard touchdown pass with less than 2 minutes to play.
That pressure to perform hasn't fazed Davis, who remained confident he'd start again after the Rams released him at the end of preseason.
"It is important that you believe in yourself and you draw from what you did well and try to learn from what you didn't do so well," Davis said. "I think quarterback is a pretty difficult position to play, but I also appreciate the challenge and want to get better at it. I want to be good at it.
"Every opportunity you get to play that is the only way to get better. Get out there and play and make mistakes and build on what you do well."
2. Browns check off item on to-do list with signing of Terrelle Pryor
Bringing back Terrelle Pryor has been on the Browns' to-do list for a while, Pettine said. Just about three months since he was released in order for the Browns to acquire running back Robert Turbin, Pryor was back in Berea on Wednesday and went through his first practice with his old/new teammates.
Pettine reiterated his positive feelings for Pryor, who has been out of the NFL since the Browns released him, and explained why now was the right time for a reunion. Part of it had to do with Pryor's experience at quarterback.
"This is an explosive athlete that we think over time can master the position," Pettine said. "We just felt the time was right to get him back here and get him practicing playing wide out, but the insurance policy that he does give us, especially now with Josh (McCown) being hurt, is you at least have a viable third quarterback on the roster, a guy that has played the position in the league and that has had production.
"As you know, we prefer to see Brian Hartline playing wide receiver and not quarterback."
Pettine said it'd be tough to expect much from Pryor as soon as Sunday against the Bengals because of his time away from football and his inexperience at wide receiver. He hopes Pryor can establish a limited role by the end of the season.
"We will see where he is and what he has retained and what kind of shape he is in. He was truly a work in progress," Pettine said. "It was well-documented during training camp. He was competing against guys who have spent virtually their entire football existence at wide receiver, and now, he is trying to make the conversion. We think the skill set is there to do it, but it is a time thing. This is a big, explosive athlete that we felt we could get back here and start to get him coached up."
3. Injury updates
Joel Bitonio has continued to show progress from the ankle injury that has sidelined him in back-to-back games. The second-year left guard was limited in practice Wednesday, and Pettine said he was "hopeful" Bitonio would be ready for Sunday's game.
The four Browns players in the league's concussion protocol -- DB Joe Haden, DB Justin Gilbert, WR Andrew Hawkins and WR Taylor Gabriel -- did not practice Wednesday.
Defensive lineman Randy Starks, who missed Monday's game with a knee injury, received limited work in practice but is not as close to returning as Bitonio, Pettine said.
4. Final hindsight on blocked FG
Pettine was asked Wednesday if the Browns could have quickly jumped offsides to draw a penalty on Baltimore in response to Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine briefly crossing the line of scrimmage before the snap on Monday's game-winning field goal attempt.
In a word? Yes, but that sort of tactic is a "little bit dicey," Pettine said, especially when you're already attempting a field goal from 51 yards.
"It has to time up. If you jump a hair late or if you are not the adjacent player – it is a little bit different when it is a tight end and a wing – if you are not the adjacent player to who jumped," Pettine said. "That situation just doesn't come up very often, but we discussed that after the game."
5. He said it…
Davis has a connection with Green Bay legend Brett Favre, who was also a star quarterback at Southern Miss during his college days. When Davis emerged as a reliable starter last year for the Rams, Favre offered high praise for the then-rookie on a number of national media outlets.
Asked if he'd heard from Favre since he was named the starter, Davis smiled.
"I don't think he gets cell reception deer hunting in the woods. He is unreachable right now," Davis said. "When he comes out of the foxhole I am sure he follows along. I know he has had a lot of nice things to say and I appreciate it from such a legend and such a great player."