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5 things to know the day after Browns' loss to Cincinnati

Just a little more than 12 hours after the final whistle of Cleveland's 31-10 loss to the Bengals, Browns coach Mike Pettine and a couple of players spoke with reporters on a conference call.

Here are the five most important takeaways.

1. QB decision to come early next week

Pettine stressed on multiple occasions that, after a stretch of three games in 12 days, the upcoming weekend would be used to "hit the pause button and get away for a little bit."

That means a decision about who will be the Browns' starting quarterback Nov. 15 against the Steelers and beyond hasn't been made and won't come until early next week.

"I already met with the coordinators this morning. They have a list of things that we are going to come back and meet on," Pettine said. "When Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) and I get together, that will be one of them."

Johnny Manziel, in his second start of the season, was sharp in Thursday's first half. He made a number of quality throws outside of the pocket, led the Browns' longest touchdown drive of the year and sported a QB rating higher than 100 as Cleveland trailed Cincinnati by a manageable 14-10 margin. The second half was a different story, though, as the Browns failed to pick up a first down until they trailed by 21 with 3:18 to play.

Pettine said Manziel graded out very well in the first half, but struggled on his final 15 or so snaps.

"When the game kind of got away from us, he did not play very well, but in the beginning he was solid and graded out pretty high," Pettine said. "I think that is tough for any quarterback to start a half under those circumstances and it still falls back to what I have said all along. We have to be better around him."

Pettine did not have an update on veteran Josh McCown, who was inactive Thursday with rib and shoulder injuries. In seven starts, McCown has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,897 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.

2. Updates on injuries coming next week, too

Pettine did not have any updates on the respective status of offensive lineman Joel Bitonio (ankle) or rookie safety Ibraheim Campbell (hamstring). Both players were sidelined for a stretch with their injuries but returned to action.

Each player will receive treatment throughout the weekend and will be re-evaluated early in the week.

Along with McCown, the Browns had five other players inactive for Thursday's game because of injuries: WRs Andrew Hawkins (concussion) and Brian Hartline (concussion); DBs Donte Whitner (concussion), Joe Haden (concussion) and Jordan Poyer (shoulder).

3. Youth movement?

After Sunday's loss to the Cardinals, Pettine said the Browns weren't yet at the point to give younger players more extensive playing time to evaluate their long-term potential.

Asked if his feelings were any different after Thursday's loss, Pettine said that'd be another topic to tackle early next week.

"I think a lot of our young guys have been playing; it just happened naturally," Pettine said. "Again, there'd be mixed opinions on that as to whether or not you want to force that. Again, we're just at the point now when we're going to hit the reset button or hit pause and just assess where we are. With only the one game here in the next couple 20 something days or so that we have the opportunity to do a lot of assessment."

Defensive rookies Danny Shelton, Nate Orchard and Ibraheim Campbell received extensive snaps Thursday against the Bengals. So, too, did second-year defensive back Justin Gilbert, who logged a season-high 23 snaps. First-round offensive lineman Cameron Erving played nine snaps at left guard for Bitonio.

Pettine said rookie defensive back Charles Gaines could come off injured reserve in the near future. Gaines recently returned to practice after missing two months with a hamstring injury he suffered during the preseason.

4. Two-man running game

After two weeks of dividing snaps relatively equally among the team's three running backs, the Browns went with the two-man tandem of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. on Thursday.

Crowell had one of his best halves of the season, running for 42 yards and adding a couple of catches out of the backfield, but was silenced in the second half when Cleveland attempted just one running play. Johnson caught two passes for 38 yards and a touchdown but did not have a touch in the second half.

Pettine said DeFilippo came out of the past two games with the "realization" to go with two running backs and use the third, Robert Turbin, situationally.

"I thought Crow did some good things last night," Pettine said, "especially in the first half."

5. 'You'll see who the competitors are…'

Asked how the team avoids discouragement about its 2-7 record through nine games, veteran offensive lineman John Greco delivered a powerful response worth remembering.

"For me personally, this is my job," Greco said. "I don't have the ability, especially at my position, to say 'you know what? I'm giving up' because somebody can get hurt. I play a game within a game … All the guys that line up next to me I know, that's their mindset. In my opinion that's everyone on this team. No one's going to give up. Yeah, our record right now isn't what we want. Last year we were 7-4 and (lost) five straight games. What's to say we can't rip off three, four in a row, who knows, five in a row to finish out the season?

"That's our mindset, it's tough. When things don't go your way and you put so much work and effort into it, it's easy to just hang your head and hang it up for the season, but guys aren't going to do that. It's still our jobs. We're being evaluated every day as with everyone else. You'll see who the competitors are and see who still wants to try to right the ship."

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