Browns have to be relieved Josh McCown appears ready to go

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BEREA, Ohio -- Browns coach Hue Jackson won't say it, but the return of veteran quarterback Josh McCown has to be a comforting notion to a winless team.

Not only do the Browns not have to go into a game with untested rookies Kevin Hogan and Joe Callahan, they go into Sunday's game against the Jets with a veteran who understands the offense better than anyone.

“I think it will be a huge boost," tackle Joe Thomas said. "He obviously has played well for us when he has been in these past couple years. To be able to have him back would be awesome since the quarterbacks that are healthy right now do not have nearly as much experience that Josh does.”

A week that started with what looked like nervous options has settled into the Browns welcoming back McCown.

"He is a veteran player," Jackson said. "He knows how to play and he knows our systems. Hopefully, if he is out there, it means he is the best guy standing right now. Will it be a boost? It is a boost just to have any of our quarterbacks playing right now."

Jackson will not announce a final decision on McCown until he gets through Friday's practice -- enough strange things have happened in practice this week that he wants to be sure -- but he was clear that's the way it appears for Sunday.

"All signs are pointing in that direction," Jackson said of McCown starting.

"We're really trending that way now," he said later.

This is not like the Patriots welcoming Tom Brady back after his four-game suspension. McCown is 18-40 as as starting quarterback, 1-8 with the Browns and 2-18 the last three seasons.

But given their situation with injured quarterbacks, McCown's return is a needed relief. The last time he played, McCown guided the Browns to a 20-0 first-half lead over the Ravens.

He was 10-for-14 with two touchdowns in that half. At some point he broke his left collarbone. He finished the game, but was not as effective — though he was one horrible taunting call from having a chance to win the game in the final minute from the 10-yard line. Instead, McCown threw an interception on the next play.

"It certainly lingers because it was a ton of good early in that game, but didn’t finish the way we wanted it to," he said.

McCown had Corey Coleman in that game, and the rookie caught two touchdown passes and had 104 receiving yards.

McCown will not have Coleman on Sunday against the Jets. He's still recovering from a broken right hand.

McCown also will face a Jets defense that is second in the league against the rush. He has a more patchwork offensive line in front of him, too.

But the Jets are 27th against the pass and McCown will have Terrelle Pryor, who seems much closer to himself after a hamstring issue limited him to 31 of 64 offensive snaps in Cincinnati.

"It is all hands on deck with everybody," McCown said. "We need everybody that can play and can be available to go out there and play their best. It is no different for myself.

"You do everything you can to help until you are available. When you are available, if your number is called, you go out there and help that way."