Colt McCoy had a good, old time last weekend as his college jersey was retired in Texas, but there were times when he had football on his mind.
That proved to be a good thing now that it's almost certain the Browns rookie quarterback will start Sunday at home against the New England Patriots. Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme weren't able to practice Thursday, which means it's all systems go for McCoy.
"When I was at home and we got the jersey retired, I'm really honored about that," McCoy said. "That was fun. I still had one foot in the door over here. My mind was still racing about watching film for New England and what we've got to do to win. I guess that's just me in general. It was fun, it was good to get home and see my family, but I'm glad to be back and rolling again."
It will be McCoy's third straight start. The reviews have been favorable, especially after a 23-of-33 performance for 281 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He wasn't as productive a week later against the New Orleans Saints, but he wasn't asked to do much because of a win that was powered by the defense and specials teams.
The learning process for McCoy will take a huge step Sunday. Few coaches in the NFL can devise better defensive plans than Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who must cherish the thought of seeing a rookie making his third start on the other side of the field.
A positive for McCoy is that he's faced two potent defenses that can confuse the best of veteran quarterbacks. The zone blitzes that Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau likes to call were about as good of an indoctrination as a rookie can get.
"I imagine they're going to come after us," McCoy said. "I imagine they're going to blitz, and I imagine they're going to bring pressure. We'll have to be really sharp going into the game in handling their pressure, handling their blitzes and taking care of the football."
With each start McCoy is given, the more likely it is that he could remain the starter. Of course, he has to prove that he belongs on the field when Delhomme and Wallace are healthy.
So far, McCoy has handled the pressure without any noticeable signs of being in awe or overwhelmed.
"I think it only helps being able to play two games on the road in two loud environments," McCoy said. "I'll be prepared, and I'll be ready. This team is excited to be back home against a great opponent in New England. We've got our hands full with them."
An irony in McCoy's first three starts is the quality of the opposing quarterback. First it was Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers. Then it was Drew Brees of the Saints, the reigning NFL Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP. This week it's Tom Brady, who's led the Patriots to the best record in the NFL at 6-1.
"Honestly, being here, a lot of the things that we do are from New England," McCoy said. "It's Tom Brady over and over and over, especially in learning our offense. He's a tremendous quarterback. There's a reason they've won three Super Bowls. The guy is incredible.
"I think one of the things that I've studied is just his pocket presence, his awareness when in the pocket and when he's got to move. You saw the plays he made against Minnesota. You can't coach that and you can't teach that. That's something that you develop over time, and he's got it."