How would you like to spend 16 weeks of an NFL season on the practice squad, only to get called up to the 53-man roster for the final week of the season because you might be needed to start at quarterback against the Pittsburgh Steelers? For a guy like Thaddeus Lewis, it has to be a dream-like scenario. Granted, the Steelers aren't an ideal choice to go up against due to their intimidating defense, but to get an opportunity to start in the league is something you jump at.
For Browns fans, though, it is "more of the same" in terms of ending seasons on a negative note. Brandon Weeden suffered a shoulder injury during the third quarter of last week's game against the Broncos and was replaced by Colt McCoy. As it turns out, McCoy also injured his shoulder in that game and is receiving treatment. Neither player has been ruled out for Sunday's finale against the Steelers, but Lewis took all of the first-team reps during Wednesday's practice.
The Browns also signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson to run the scout team. If Weeden and McCoy are out for Sunday, Johnson would serve as Lewis' backup. Here is what Shurmur said about Weeden's status for Sunday:
(On if elevating Lewis and signing Johnson is insurance in case Weeden can’t play Sunday)- "Yeah, I think so. We’ll see how they come back. Each guy is different, but absolutely. Whoever’s in there I trust. I’ve had experience with Thad in the past. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunity in regular season games to go in there and play, but if he’s in there playing, we definitely trust that he’ll do a good job."
The Browns aren't strangers to starting new quarterbacks in Week 17 against the Steelers. In 2008, they started Bruce Gradkowski and lost 31-0. With the long list of injuries to key players over the past 2-3 weeks, something like that can't be ruled out of the question. RB Trent Richardson is banged up after suffering an ankle injury at the end of last week's game. S Usama Young was placed on injured reserve for a thumb injury that will require surgery.
Perhaps the shining light is the fact that the Steelers are also in a gloomy mood. They were just eliminated from playoff contention, Ben Roethlisberger is playing terrible, and several players, including CB Ike Taylor, were placed on injured reserve.
Whoever starts at quarterback on Sunday, whether it be Weeden, McCoy, or Lewis, hopefully they can have a solid game to help Cleveland sweep Pittsburgh for the first time in the post-1999 era.