On the trip back to Cleveland on Sunday evening, Josh McCown knew fellow quarterback and friend Robert Griffin III was hurting after a loss to the Eagles. He just wasn't sure how bad it was.
"We sit next to each other one the flight and he had a bag of ice on his shoulder and so we were talking a little bit, so I kind of understood how he was feeling and what not," said McCown, who met with reporters Monday afternoon after it was announced Griffin will miss extended time because of a significant shoulder injury.
"So in your mind, you obviously have to start going, saying a prayer for him hoping he's OK, but also mentally going, 'OK if it's your time, you've got to be ready to go' and start going through that process."
Indeed, with Griffin — who was placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken coracoid bone in a loss at Philadelphia — sidelined for the foreseeable future, McCown is prepared to lead Cleveland once again after starting eight games in 2015.
"We were good in some statistical columns but the one that matters, we didn't get it done," said McCown, who passed for 2,109 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
Under first-year head coach Hue Jackson, the Browns are still trying to change that dynamic after a loss in the season opener. Now, they say they'll move forward with McCown as they gear up for Baltimore this weekend.
"That's why you keep him here. I said that to you guys a long time ago, I think you have to have quarterbacks on your football team that can play and that's why we kept Josh here because he knows how to play and he's been in this league and he understands our offense and what we're trying to accomplish," Jackson said.
"It's unfortunate that this happened to Robert but it is comforting to know that we have a guy that has played in NFL games and knows how to manage games and play the game and play within our system."
The 37-year-old McCown approaches this week with bittersweet emotions.
"I'm excited about playing, absolutely," he said. "As we've talked about before at my tender age, these opportunities you don't take lightly so I'm looking forward to competing with these guys."
But he described himself as "heartbroken" for Griffin, who was named the team's starter last month after joining the club this past spring.
"You see the time somebody puts into a job and prepare themselves and so for any time that happens, especially week one of the opener, it's just heartbreaking because I know how much he wants to be out there with his guys and fighting for his team and even that play itself just showed the fight that he had," McCown said.
"In the quarterback and in every room, you're so tight and you grow in relationships with guys and so it's not just a teammate, it's a friend that's getting injured and you're bummed and heartbroken for that guy because you know his dreams and aspirations that he talks about in the quarterback room and the things he needs to accomplish and the goals he has for the team, so it's heartbreaking."
With the Ravens and their stingy defense coming to town, McCown said he'll need to put those feelings aside and shift his "intensity level" to a new gear.
"This is a job I have to do for my team," he said. "It's a little bit of a juggling act but as we always say, it's the next man up and you move on and you focus on the next week."