CLEVELAND — The Browns are facing more uncertainty at quarterback.
After Cody Kessler suffered a concussion in Sunday's 24-9 loss to the Steelers, head coach Hue Jackson said the team will handle the rookie quarterback with care going forward, including the possibility of resting him for the final five weeks of the season.
"We'll see," Jackson said postgame. "I'm definitely going to talk to our medical staff because this is about a young man's career and future so we have to do the right thing."
Kessler, who left following a big hit in the fourth quarter, will enter the league's concussion protocol for the second time in five weeks after suffering a concussion in Week 7 against the Bengals.
Against that backdrop, Jackson said the Browns will evaluate Kessler's progress and likely lean on the veteran Josh McCown, who has made two starts this season. "He's going to have to go out there and play," Jackson said. "I will expect Josh to play well and he will."
McCown, who relieved the injured Kessler, passed for 114 yards and a touchdown against a Pittsburgh defense that registered a season-high eight sacks.
"You know when you go against Pittsburgh that it is going to be a physical battle. You have to prepare on how they're going to pressure you and the different kind of pressures that they have," McCown said.
"You have to be prepared for them. Once you are ready to go and prepared, you have to execute. Watching the game, and seeing Cody play from the shotgun, I kind of had an idea of what they were going to do there and that you have your hands full, but you have to go in there and try to lead the team."
Jackson said the Browns' pass protection must improve. "Our guys are trying. I think I have to put them in better situations. It all starts and stems from the top. It starts with me so I have to put these guys in better situations," he said.
"Today, I just thought as you looked out there as things were unfolding and happening, their team made more plays than we did. At the end of the day, that is what happens. I don't want this group to go backward any more than what we already have. I have to regroup with the guys and regroup with our coaches, and we have to keep pressing forward."
"It's always a concerted effort," left tackle Joe Thomas said. "It's the line getting against the guys that we want to be on. It's the running backs knowing who they are blocking. It's the quarterbacks understanding who we are blocking and readjusting the protection. We haven't been on the same page enough."
Asked of the team's plans for quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is expected to practice this week but remains on the injured reserve, Jackson said it's "probably a little soon to discuss that until I know that he is back and playing."
"But we can protect better, and we will," Jackson said. "We can do a lot of things better. It is not just protection. It is running the ball. It is stopping the run. It is a lot of things that I think we can do better, and that is our charge. We have to go back and do that."