The circumstances may differ, but nothing's changed as far as Josh McCown is concerned.
Since he arrived in Cleveland, McCown has embraced a dual role of sorts. Throughout the offseason, training camp, preseason and first half of the regular season, McCown was the Cleveland's starting quarterback and played the position as well as anyone has in recent years for the Browns. Simultaneously, he's been a guiding force along with assistant coach Kevin O'Connell in a collaborative Browns quarterback room that includes the younger Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis.
McCown has been out for the past two games because of a rib injury, and Manziel has shown significant progress in back-to-back lopsided losses. Browns coach Mike Pettine said the decision to move forward with Manziel or a healthier McCown starting Nov. 30 against the Ravens will be discussed during the team's upcoming bye week.
McCown was aware of as much Monday as he spoke from the Browns locker room. His words echoed what he's said all along about his standing on the roster relative to Manziel's.
"When that day comes, then Johnny will be playing and I won't. I will support and help him get ready just like I did this week and do everything I can to help him to play the best ball he can to help us win football games," McCown said. "That is the way I view – any player on a team – you do everything you can to help the team win and to serve the team in your role.
"If you are the starting quarterback, you go out there and play the best ball you can. If you are the backup quarterback, you help that guy get ready to go and help him play the best ball he can so that the team can win. It is about the team."
Though the end result -- a 30-9 loss -- was the same for the Browns on Sunday as it was the previous week at Cincinnati, McCown liked what he saw from Manziel in his third start of the season. The veteran noted the obvious big play Manziel made on a 61-yard pass to Travis Benjamin in the first quarter but put a special emphasis on one of Manziel's 33 completions that may have been overlooked.
Faced with third-and-14 late in the first quarter, Manziel hung in the pocket for a few seconds and stayed true to his reads. He fired a 17-yard pass to Brian Hartline to move the chains.
Manziel finished 33-of-45 for 372 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and six sacks.
"For him to be effective from the pocket first – you just look at it and look at our league, and the guys that are successful, they are successful from the pocket – I was proud of him because he was so effective from the pocket," McCown said. "Then when all the other stuff happens, it is icing on the cake. Yesterday, I thought he captured that and had a great balance of those things. I think that is why he was so effective."
McCown, who was limited at practice throughout last week, said he was "close" to being able to play against the Steelers. He admitted he still wanted to play against the Browns' arch rival but understood the precaution exercised and called it "the best decision."
No matter the direction the Browns go at quarterback for the Baltimore game and beyond, McCown said his "mindset is always be ready to go."
"I've been in a bunch of different quarterback rooms in this league and I just root for the guys in that room. You want that room to do well because you know it can help our team," McCown said. "We'll see what happens moving forward, but regardless, the point for us is to continue to grow and get better in that quarterback room and do everything we can to win this next football game."