BEREA - With all the strange comings and goings around the Browns of late, quarterback Seneca Wallace has the right idea.
"I stay in my lane around here," Wallace said. "I'm waiting for my opportunity to come, and right now I'm preparing the team to the best of my abilities."
Wallace's opportunity this season will finally come Sunday when the Browns play the Arizona Cardinals on the road. He'll start in place of Colt McCoy, who suffered a concussion nine days ago on a helmet-to-helmet hit delivered by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
Wallace has been a quiet man this season, playing the role of the good soldier in support of McCoy. His only game appearance was for two plays after McCoy went down.
Wallace's body language shouts of being dissatisfied. Not one to create controversy, he says that roaming the sideline hasn't bothered him.
"I don't worry about it," Wallace said. "In my eyes, I don't look at it as a backup role. I go in preparing like I'm starting. I'll leave it to you guys to say he's a backup this or a backup that. I go about my business the same way as if I'm starting."
Wallace had no choice in joining the Browns prior to the 2010 decision. He was acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in a trade for a seventh-round pick in the 2011 draft.
He did have a choice in returning to the Browns this season. After the lockout ended last July, Wallace signed a three-year contract, knowing that McCoy would be the starter.
The fact that McCoy has struggled with consistency most of the season would seem to make it more difficult for Wallace to handle his role. He couldn't have been happy when McCoy returned to the lineup the play after he completed a pass to tight end Evan Moore that moved the Browns to the Steelers' 5 at a key moment.
Wallace apparently doesn't regret his decision to sign a multi-year deal.
"There were a lot of reasons," Wallace said. "The lockout had something to do with it. The lockout put a lot of people in difficult situations where they didn't know where free agency was going to take them. I was one of those people. (Team president) Mike (Holmgren) obviously brought me here. I knew we were going to be running a West Coast system, so I didn't have to stress the whole offseason knowing where I was going to go and what offense am I going to run."
Coach Pat Shurmur's familiarity with the West Coast attack made it easy for him to accept Wallace. Wallace ran the system as a backup to Matt Hasselbeck for the Seattle Seahawks when Holmgren was their coach.
"We wanted him back because we think he can play," Shurmur said. "He was well aware of the fact that we were going to move forward with Colt as the starter, but I would say this, everyone earns their job each week. He knew that he would have a chance to compete here in a system that was familiar to him, and we're glad he stayed. Now he's having his opportunity, and we'll see. I'm anticipating that he's going to go out and execute extremely well."
With all the controversy that's surrounded the Browns, Shurmur didn't need an unhappy Wallace taking his issues to the media.
"It has been very professional," Shurmur said. "The quarterback room is outstanding. I think they try to learn together. They try to help each other, and you need that. That's part of being a quarterback and being a pro. I appreciate that from guys that have a strong longing to play. That's what he has been."
Wallace entered the NFL as the Seahawks' fourth-round draft pick in 2003. He's never had a chance to prove himself as a starter on an extended basis.
"There are politics in everything," Wallace said. "At this position you might not get people that like you to play the position, whether it's size or this and that. The only thing I can control is what I can control."