Joe Haden, Donte Whitner, Brian Hartline concussed, likely out vs. Bengals

The Cleveland Browns will face the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night with a depleted secondary and receiving corps, along with concerns at quarterback.

Cornerback Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner both left Sunday's 34-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals with concussions. Neither is expected to play in Cincinnati on Thursday.

Free safety Tashaun Gipson said on a conference call that Haden and Whitner would miss the game. Coach Mike Pettine didn't go that far, but he did indicate the chances of them playing were not good.

"I'm not going to sit here and rule them out as we speak," Pettine said Monday, "but they're in the protocol. I think it would be extremely difficult for them to be cleared in time to play on a Thursday."

Haden's situation is especially concerning. He missed the two games before Arizona with a concussion, then left in the third quarter after falling while trying to tackle Michael Floyd. He has left games twice in the past four weeks with concussions.

The Browns also have concerns at quarterback, but Pettine said the team has not reached the point where it turns the position over to Johnny Manziel. As a result, the team will give Josh McCown every chance to get his injured ribs healthy enough to start.

"We're just not ready to say we're at that point yet," Pettine said of the decision to see what the team has in Manziel.

Pettine said McCown is sore but would not answer whether X-rays taken Sunday were negative, adding that the team will evaluate McCown over the next few days.

McCown was in serious discomfort for part of the third quarter in Sunday's loss. At one point Manziel was headed on the field to take over, but McCown waved him back to the sideline. The Browns said McCown was healthy enough to play, and Pettine said he would not handle the situation differently.

"He showed us he is a true leader," tight end Gary Barnidge said. "I think everybody fed off it, knowing that he is going to keep playing no matter what. I don't think it affected him one bit."

McCown has put up impressive numbers for the Browns, averaging 308 passing yards per game since he returned from a concussion in Week 3.

The problem is he's not winning. The Browns have gone 1-5 in those games, making McCown 2-15 as a starter the past two seasons.

Pettine described the Browns' situation as having a clear starter in McCown and a clear backup in Manziel.

"We feel good about where Johnny is and the direction he's headed," Pettine said. "Those are just our circumstances."

Receiver Brian Hartline also was on the injury report with a concussion. Hartline was a surprise addition to the report after he showed up for Monday's practice with symptoms.

The Browns now have two receivers in the concussion protocol: Hartline and Andrew Hawkins, who missed the Cardinals game after being concussed against the Rams. That leaves them with Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel, Marlon Moore and Dwayne Bowe to face the Bengals.

Bowe does not have a reception this season, and played only the final two minutes of Sunday's loss to the Cardinals.