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5 things to know: Browns trust Josh McCown to lead young offense

Josh McCown was with a pair of receivers in Terrelle Pryor and Josh Gordon on Monday when he received a call from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who was checking in with the team's new starting quarterback after it was announced Robert Griffin III will miss extended time because of a shoulder injury.

Haslam said Wednesday morning during a radio interview he was encouraged to see the 37-year-old quarterback hanging with his 20-something pass catchers away from the practice field.

So was head coach Hue Jackson, who said the whole occurrence didn't surprise him.

"That's just who Josh McCown is, and he has been outstanding that way. He's a true competitor, he is a leader, he understands what it takes to play his position," Jackson said. "He has seen some of the best do it, he has had some outstanding games as we all know, and we are looking forward to him leading our offense." [



McCown, the veteran who's in his 14th season, will take control of a young offense that showcased both highs and lows in a loss to the Eagles last weekend.  

"They'll be ready to go. It's just about continuing to carry the energy and the belief. We want to be a high-level offense. We want to play at a high level. You have to behave that way and think in that mindset even before that happens," said McCown, who started eight games and passed for more than 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015.

"It's just everybody on the same page and thinking that way that this is what we are going to do. We are going to go out and execute at a high level. It's a standard that we hold ourselves to in the walkthroughs, practice and then ultimately on Sunday."

And the Browns, who have described McCown as having a wealth of knowledge and experience, have faith he can get the job done.

"I think it is the cool thing about this business is that you have varying ages, but you go out and you all play the same game. I enjoy it because it gives me the same opportunity to go out and play the same game that I have been playing since I was 21, 22, 23," McCown said.

"I don't take that lightly. That's an honor and privilege to be able to compete and do this at this age."

Meeting a hero

Browns rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman hasn't been shy about sharing his admiration for Ravens veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., whom he has looked up to since he was a kid.

Now on Sunday, Coleman will have the chance to meet his childhood hero who shares a similar skill set to the first-round draft pick from Baylor.

"It's incredible. Reached out to him and talked to him a little bit, it's exciting because he's a guy I really looked up to and still look up to growing up as a kid and it'll be cool to see him in person and in action," Coleman said, adding, "It's exciting to have guys like that, role models you look up to, reach out to you."

Mutual respect

It wasn't that long ago when Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh tapped Jackson to be his quarterbacks coach and help mold Joe Flacco into one of the league's better players.

Against that backdrop, there's a great deal of mutual respect between Harbaugh's staff and the one in Cleveland that Jackson has assembled in his first season with the Browns.

"He is a great coach. I have always believed that. I believe he is a heck of a person, a good family man, a good friend. I learned a lot from Hue when he was here. When Hue came here, it was just a matter of hiring a really good coach," Harbaugh told reporters on a conference call.

"I was really surprised that we were able to get him at the time. He was really highly thought of. I was in Cincinnati for a number of years and had been in Indiana and knew about Hue from all the places he had been in college and the NFL.

"I was just ecstatic that he was able to come on board with us. He just did a great job and had a ton to do with our success. I think Hue will do great in every coaching job that he is in for the rest of his life because he is a great coach."

Likewise, Jackson had praise for Harbaugh and Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, the Hall of Fame tight end who played for the Browns from 1978-1990.

"Ozzie is, obviously, he's an icon in this league, in my opinion. Not just as one of the better personnel guys in all of pro football but also as a player. He was a tremendous football player, here. He's done a great job in Baltimore," Jackson said.

"You look around every year and there is some great football players they have added to their team and trust me, it is by no coincidence. Ozzie Newsome has a lot to do with that. My time with him, he taught me some of the ropes of coaching in the National Football League and I thank him because he and John Harbaugh allowed me to coach their quarterback for a couple years. I have a lot of respect for Ozzie and that whole scouting department that they have over there."

Ravens defense taking flight

The Ravens finished 24th in total defense last season, a surprising development for one of the league's more consistent units.

But Jackson assured reporters Wednesday that year is likely more of an anomaly and not the beginning of a new trend.

"They are good. They are playing good. They got their confidence back and they are playing well, but it's what you anticipate from a John Harbaugh-coached football team," Jackson said.

"He's one of the better coaches in the league. He's going to have those guys ready to play. What happened last year is not even close to what I have known Baltimore to be. They have really good players that are well-coached. They know how to play the game. They have good coordinators that are great coaches over there. They are a good defensive football team."

The Ravens held the Bills to a touchdown and 160 total yards of offense last weekend in a win over Buffalo.

Confidence in Cam

After an errant snap that sailed past Griffin and into the end zone for a safety seemed to turn the tide against the Eagles, Jackson has made it clear the Browns can't have those types of miscues happen.

But Cleveland is confident center Cameron Erving can get the job done.

"It is unfortunate the snaps show up, and it is something he has to correct," Jackson said. "I'm disappointed in that but I'm not down on the player. He has to get that fixed and has to get it corrected. It will hurt our football team if it keeps happening. There is no doubt about that."

McCown plans to spend extra time with Erving throughout the week as the duo prepares for their first action together as a quarterback-center battery.

"I think for Cam, it's just the work in practice. Obviously, we will get extra time and snaps and stuff like that. Like I said the other day, those are things that sometimes come out when you are on the road and in that environment," McCown said.

"It's hard to recreate that at practice, but you can give yourself enough repetitions and a better chance for that not to happen. We'll certainly do those things, but I have full confidence in Cam. He's moving on from that and it's not something that we expect to happen again."

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