Weeden, McCoy still sidelined for Browns


Weeden, McCoy still sidelined for Browns

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Third-string quarterback Thad Lewis is one day closer to starting for the Browns.

With Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy not practicing again because of right shoulder injuries, Lewis worked with Cleveland's first-team offense on Thursday as the Browns prepared for Sunday's season finale against Pittsburgh.

Weeden and McCoy were hurt last week against Denver, and although coach Pat Shurmur has not ruled them out, it appears likely that Lewis will get his first NFL regular-season action.

Also, rookie running back Trent Richardson did not practice with a sprained left ankle and starting cornerback Sheldon Brown remained out with a concussion.

Shurmur will likely rule players out following Friday's practice if they're going to miss the Steelers game.

Lewis has spent two seasons with Browns, but has yet to appear in a game.

``He's got a live arm,'' Shurmur said. ``He's very athletic. He'll execute our offense the right way and I'm glad he's going to, if he becomes the starter here, will have an opportunity. He'll do a good job.''

The team signed free agent quarterback Josh Johnson, who would back up Lewis if Weeden and McCoy can't play. Shurmur said the team considered signing Seneca Wallace, who started seven games in two seasons with Cleveland before he was released in training camp.

With Cleveland's front office expected to make sweeping changes during the offseason, Sunday could be Shurmur's final game with the Browns.

Shurmur said he does not have a meeting scheduled with new owner Jimmy Haslam or CEO Joe Banner regarding his future. Shurmur said he's only focused on the Steelers.

``Listen, I get this,'' he said. ``My concerns are for our team and making sure that we do all the right things during the game to give our guys the best chance to win. And then at some point after that, I'll begin to think about what goes on from that. But I'm not worrying about it.''

Shurmur believes the Browns have improved during his tenure. Cleveland is 9-22 with Shurmur as coach.

``We've made improvements, some may say not fast enough,'' Shurmur said. ``But I think we've made improvements. And I think we came into a less-than-ideal situation when we got here. Every situation is different, and I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the work that the guys that I hired did in terms of inspiring the players to improve.

``We have not won enough football games. And I know that's the way this thing works.''


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.