BEREA — Throughout college and his first two years in the NFL, quarterback Colt McCoy never went more than a couple of days without doing an interview.
That was then. When he was the starter.
The first five practices of training camp passed this summer before McCoy was stopped by reporters.
“You guys never asked for me,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “Yeah, I missed you guys.”
McCoy’s loyal legion of fans will never let him become a forgotten man. But he’s been an afterthought in the first week of camp.
Rookie Brandon Weeden has gotten nearly all of the repetitions with the first-team offense. He’s the one doing daily post-practice interviews with ESPN, Sports Illustrated and NFL Network. He’s the one coach Pat Shurmur is expected to name the starter “soon.”
McCoy, who started the first 13 games of 2011 before suffering a season-ending concussion, has been relegated to the second-team offense. Instead of Joe Thomas and Alex Mack blocking for him, he has Ryan Miller and Jarrod Shaw. His future with the Browns will be determined by any trade offers they receive.
“All I’ve been told is to come out here and compete,” McCoy said. “With that mindset that I love the game of football, I want to play, I love Cleveland.”
McCoy said in the offseason he was told after Weeden was drafted that he’d be given the opportunity to compete for the starting job. He was asked Wednesday if it’s a fair competition if Weeden is getting all the snaps with the starters.
“That’s a good question for Pat or Coach Childress (Brad, offensive coordinator) or somebody,” he said. “For me, all I’ve been told is to compete. That’s something I would do regardless.
“Especially in this situation, I want to go out and get myself better each day. I think we’re accomplishing that. I feel really good.”
The Browns are grooming Weeden to be the starter for the regular-season opener Sept. 9 against Philadelphia, but McCoy is trying his best to make them think twice. His solid start to camp peaked Wednesday with a string of touchdowns in red zone drills.
He hit tight end Jordan Cameron on a post over the top of safety Usama Young. He threw a perfect back-shoulder pass to leaping receiver Travis Benjamin in the left front corner of the end zone. He found tight end Dan Gronkowski on a back-shoulder throw linebacker Scott Fujita couldn’t stop.
His greatest misstep was an interception by Young when tight end Alex Smith stopped running his route.
“I feel like what we’re trying to do is slowing down for me,” McCoy said. “I’m not out there worried about where guys are going to be on the field and if I can get them the ball. I’m watching what the defense is doing. I’m throwing based off their coverage. I know where my guys are going to be.
“I think that’s just part of a natural progression of playing quarterback and being a year in the same system and having an offseason.”
McCoy was new to Shurmur’s West Coast Offense in 2011, and his development was hurt by the lockout that deprived him of a true offseason.
“We went in and we were just trying to run plays,” McCoy said. “I wouldn’t tell you I’m out here running plays right now, I’m running an offense. There’s a difference and I feel that each day.”
Shurmur has noticed.
“Colt’s doing great,” he said. “I think he’s continuing to improve. I’m seeing him do things in this camp that he didn’t do a year ago and he’s getting more comfortable within our system and he’s coming to work every day and working hard.
“I just think he’s more comfortable in the progressions. If it doesn’t go to No. 1 or No. 2, he’s throwing it to 3 instead of taking off and running. Command in the huddle, knowing what his receivers can do and where he can put the football. All the general quarterback play stuff.”
McCoy was the hope for the future just a year ago. But he struggled throughout the season — 4-9 record, 57 percent completion rate, 14 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 74.6 rating — prompting the Browns to conclude they needed an upgrade.
Weeden, the No. 22 pick, looked good Wednesday during team red zone drills but struggled in the seven-on-seven portion, opening with four incompletions. He’s repeatedly flashed his strong arm and natural throwing ability, but has been inconsistent overall and forced too many throws into coverage.
The Browns remain committed to him, leaving McCoy’s future undecided. He could stick around as the backup or get traded.
“I can’t control anything other than coming out here and getting better,” he said. “I had a great day. Obviously I’m still learning, still growing, still maturing. But as far as that natural progression goes, I couldn’t be more pleased with where I’m at right now.”
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