It's been an interesting week for Josh McCown, but it's hard to catch a 36-year-old veteran off guard after all he's experienced throughout his NFL career.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with McCown, who will start Monday against the Baltimore Ravens, after Friday's practice to see how he's feeling from both a mental and physical perspective heading into the primetime matchup.
CB.com: You said earlier this week that no one ever wants to earn back the starting role under these sorts of circumstances. Now that it's in the past, how has it affected your preparation?
McCown: It doesn't change. You've got to prepare like you always would. There are a few things, circumstances that are different. You hang around long enough, you kind of see everything. The main thing is to focus and just concentrate on preparation and the routine. If you do that, it kind of keeps any distractions away and you'll be ready to go Monday.
CB.com: What's the time off done for you from a physical standpoint?
McCown: The time off has been great just from a health standpoint because it allowed me to heal up and not take hits on the sore ribs. It's definitely been an advantage from that standpoint. We'll see. Obviously Monday, you've still got to go get hit and see what that feels like. As far as just moving around, I feel like I've gained some ground there, so that's a good thing.
CB.com: For the non-quarterbacks out there, how would you describe the pain of playing through sore ribs?
McCown: The best I can describe it is that spot where you have your issues with the ribs, it hurts to breathe. When you're torquing to throw a football, when you're twisting and turning your hips to throw a football in your upper body, that area is super sensitive. It feels like somebody is sticking you with a knife every time. You've kind of just got to get your mind right as you're going through it. Just be tough through the pain.
CB.com: You threw for a career-best 457 yards in last month's win at Baltimore. Does that add to your confidence going into this game?
McCown: Obviously you can draw on that confidence but every game is different. You've got to go in that way and prepare that way. They've improved since that game. It's obvious on the tape. We'll draw on those things but again, we've got to have a good plan put together and go out and execute that plan.
CB.com: Baltimore's been beat up by injuries on offense but has remained relatively healthy on defense. How do you size them up?
McCown: That's the thing. Their offensive side of the ball has dealt with some injuries and they've had a few here and there, but not as significant as the offensive side. The defense is still pretty much in tact. It's hard to lose a guy like (Terrell) Suggs but throughout the year they've done a good job of overcoming that and battling through that. They've got a very good front and they can create pressure on the quarterback with those guys and make it tough for you. We know we'll have our hands full with these guys. You throw in the added value of a division game and a rivalry on Monday night, it's going to be high energy.
CB.com: What have you thought about the team's mentality since the Pittsburgh loss?
McCown: It's not the record we want to have but I think the veterans are doing a good job of pulling everyone along. We just stay focused on our routine we have to do throughout the week to be ready to play and we move forward. Monday night always brings that kind of added edge because it's going to be on TV, everyone is going to be watching it. Everybody wants to play well in front of the whole country. You find yourself in this situation, all of us understand you find out your true character when you can battle through the adversity we face this year.
CB.com: What challenge does it present if wide receivers Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel aren't available?
McCown: Hawk's ability to work the middle of the field and underneath, it's been a huge advantage for us. Gabe stretches the field. He had a big catch against those guys last game. Those guys are on the roster and in their spots for a reason, so you can't just pull up and replace them. We've got to do the best we can to create opportunities for other guys. The coaching staff has done a good job putting together a plan to do that. We'll adjust accordingly and hopefully not miss a beat.
CB.com: In your experience, what's the one thing that is a common thread in a team that bounces back from a tough stretch like this?
McCown: It's the energy level at practice. We had a high-energy practice Friday. It's the attention to detail in the meetings. I think it's more than anything it's that guys keep having fun. They don't lose that. When you start to come to work and it's drudgery and you're going through the motions, I think that's when you can find yourself in a tough one on game day and games start to get away from you. I feel like the energy is high, the focus is high. I think we ought to be in a good position come Monday night.
CB.com: What's the key to having that attitude?
McCown: It's the guys. It's the leadership, not only from the coaches side of it, but the players side of it. It's every guy bringing their own energy. Leaders come in all ages and whether it's young guys bringing their youthful energy or the veteran leadership knowing how important it is to come out and practice hard and not let it drag. I think it's a combination of those things that helps it not go in the wrong direction. I think so far we've done that and embraced this unfortunate set of circumstances and moved forward and try to make the most of it.