BEREA — Eggnog, mistletoe, snow and a Browns team limping its way to the finish line.
It must be Christmas.
For the 11th time in 14 seasons since returning to existence, the Browns (5-10) will end the year with double-digit losses. For the 13th time, they won’t make the playoffs. For the fifth time, they are expected to make a coaching change.
And for the sixth straight year, they might finish the season with a different starting quarterback than the one who opened it.
Rookie Brandon Weeden sprained his right (throwing) shoulder Sunday in the 34-12 loss in Denver and was replaced by Colt McCoy, who missed the end of the 2011 season after suffering a concussion versus Pittsburgh in Week 13.
“At this point it’s a sprain, so we’ll see where that goes,” coach Pat Shurmur said Monday.
Weeden wasn’t alone in the training room Sunday night. Running back Trent Richardson — his fellow first-round draft pick — injured his ankle in the final minute when McCoy landed on him as he was trying to pass protect.
“The X-rays didn’t show a break, but we haven’t finished up the evaluation,” Shurmur said. “He was actually feeling better today. So we’ll see how that goes.”
Cleveland’s season ends Sunday against Pittsburgh in a game with no playoff implications, and Shurmur maintained hope Weeden and Richardson will play.
“I wouldn’t rule them out yet,” he said.
Richardson had arthroscopic knee surgery in the preseason and has been battling a rib cartilage injury since Week 6. He also had surgery on both ankles in high school.
“I want to see if he can come back and play,” Shurmur said. “I think it’s important if guys are physically able to play they play. That’s the competitive nature of this game.
“And we want to do what we can to win this football game, but we’re obviously going to consider their health.”
Some of the players were upset Sunday night that Shurmur called timeouts and continued to throw in the final minutes with the Browns down by three scores.
“So you just run the ball and get out of there, warm up the buses?” Shurmur said. “We’re trying to do what we can to move the football. At that time it was a three-score game, so typically that means throw it.
“You don’t want anybody to get hurt. Nobody wants to be hurt in a game like that. But I think it’s important to try to do what we have to do to win the game.”
Shurmur was pressed on the subject. With Weeden already out, could the team afford to lose McCoy, the only other quarterback on the active roster?
“I get it,” Shurmur said. “What are we going to do, stop playing? You know what I’m saying? You could run the ball, but then your running backs get hurt as well.
“Anybody on the field is exposed to injury. That’s the reality of this business, unfortunately. You don’t want guys to get hurt.”
Shurmur also objected to the notion Richardson shouldn’t have been in at the finish.
“Joe Thomas was in there, Alex Mack,” Shurmur said of the starting left tackle and center. “Somebody’s got to tell me who our good players are and who they aren’t. We’re in there trying to win a football game and that’s why we did it.
Trent was in and out of the game pretty consistently.
“And I think all of our players are good, so if they’re up and in there playing, they play.”
Richardson had averaged 2.3 and 2.5 yards a carry the last two games, but ran with power against the Broncos. He rushed nine times for 53 yards, a 5.9 average, and a long of 14.
“He ran the ball well,” Shurmur said. “He had a couple of runs where they could’ve been lost-yardage plays and he made nice gains out of it.
“And, of course, you’d love to have him involved running it throughout, but when you get in the two-minute drill, you get down by three scores the game changes.”
Weeden was injured on a sack by linebacker Von Miller, who came off the right edge untouched. Weeden dropped into the shotgun and aligned Richardson to his left. Richardson was late getting across to try to block Miller, and Weeden’s shoulder got smashed under the pile.
“He was getting rid of the football against a pretty good rush. And then, of course, when he got hit, it was actually a hot throw,” Shurmur said. “We’ve got to get rid of the football there.
“They forced us where they brought one extra. But to that point, though, he hadn’t really taken many hits.”
Weeden, who exited with a little more than four minutes left in the third quarter, was sacked twice. He went 12-for-19 with 104 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 77.5 rating.
“I thought he was playing a pretty efficient game,” Shurmur said. “For the most part I thought he was pretty good with his throws.
“Besides the fact that we kicked field goals instead of scoring touchdowns, he was playing much better than he did the week before.”
McCoy hadn’t thrown a pass this season before Sunday. He was sacked on his first snap and three other times as the Broncos got after him with a huge lead.
“I thought he battled,” Shurmur said. “It’s a difficult situation when you go into a game as a backup, especially at the end of the game where you’re trying to play fast and you’re in the two-minute drill.”
McCoy went 9-for-17 for 79 yards, a touchdown and a 77.5 rating. He said after the game he threw a couple of balls into the dirt to let his guys rest.
“I haven’t seen Colt today. That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” Shurmur said. “It’s not bad to throw the ball away if it’s deemed necessary. I’ll have to get more information on those comments before I can comment.”
The players were off Monday and are off today. Shurmur will update the injury situation Wednesday.
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