December 21, 2014

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Browns preparing to start rookie Colt McCoy at Pittsburgh

BEREA – Browns coach Eric Mangini is preparing to start rookie quarterback Colt McCoy on Sunday at Pittsburgh. It would be McCoy’s NFL debut.

“That’s the way I’m leaning,” Mangini said Wednesday morning.

But before he names McCoy the starter, Mangini wants to see how injured veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace progress during the week, and how McCoy performs in practice with the first-team offense.

Delhomme and Wallace were unavailable for practice Wednesday with ankle injuries that could keep them out for an extended time.

“With Jake and Seneca, we’ll see at the end of the week,” Mangini said.

Mangini left open the possibility of starting Brett Ratliff, who was re-signed Tuesday. Ratliff spent three seasons with Mangini and knows the system well. But McCoy will get the majority of the repetitions with the starters.

“I have confidence in Colt and I have confidence in Brett,” Mangini said.

The Browns injured list continues to be long.

In addition to the quarterbacks, running back Peyton Hillis (quadriceps), center Alex Mack, defensive linemen Shaun Rogers, Kenyon Coleman and Robaire Smith, offensive lineman John St. Clair and special teamer Nick Sorensen didn’t practice Wednesday.

Mangini said he expects Hillis to practice Thursday or Friday and play Sunday. He said he was optimistic that the bulk of the guys who didn’t practice Wednesday would play against the Steelers.

The odds are stacked against the Browns. The Steelers are 3-1, have the fourth-ranked defense and get quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back from suspension. They’re 14-point favorites.

“It’s an exciting challenge,” Mangini said. “You don’t beat the Steelers with one player, you beat the Steelers with a team.”

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