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Browns' McCoy improving from concussion

FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2011, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy is checked out by the trainers as he gets ready to go back into the game after taking a hit from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. McCoy's season appears over, finished by the infamous hit from Harrison three weeks ago. McCoy still has not been cleared by team doctors to practice after sustaining a concussion on Dec. 8, and will likely miss the season finale Sunday against Pittsburgh. FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2011, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy is checked out by the trainers as he gets ready to go back into the game after taking a hit from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. McCoy's season appears over, finished by the infamous hit from Harrison three weeks ago. McCoy still has not been cleared by team doctors to practice after sustaining a concussion on Dec. 8, and will likely miss the season finale Sunday against Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright, File)
By Tom Withers
AP Sports Writer / December 29, 2011
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BEREA, Ohio—Colt McCoy didn't want to relive any of what happened to him three weeks ago.

It's not clear if he remembers that night in Pittsburgh.

The Browns' young quarterback wants to move on from a concussion that ended his season, spawned a controversy and prompted the NFL to do more to treat injured players.

Sporting a newly grown beard, McCoy said Thursday that he's "feeling better" and making progress from the concussion he sustained on Dec. 8 from a helmet-to-helmet hit delivered by Steelers linebacker James Harrison. McCoy, who has not been medically cleared to practice since he was blasted by Harrison, refused to answer questions about what he recalls from the hit or what transpired in its aftermath.

McCoy, though, did praise Cleveland's medical staff for its handling of his concussion despite the team not testing him for a head injury on the sideline and sending him back in the game after sitting out just two plays.

"Our medical staff does an outstanding job and that should never be in question," said McCoy, speaking for the first time since he was diagnosed with the concussion.

McCoy didn't want to talk about the vicious hit by Harrison, who lowered his head and delivered a crushing blow to the QB's facemask, knocking his feet out from under him and sprawling him on his back. McCoy also declined to reveal any of his symptoms or why he hasn't been allowed to return to the field.

"I just don't want to go there guys," McCoy said. "I really don't want to recreate anything. I don't even want to think about it. I can tell you that I'm feeling a lot better, especially of late. I really feel like I'm coming out of this, and I hope to at least be able to be out there this weekend and help my team."

McCoy was asked if he thought Harrison's hit was a cheap shot.

"No," he said. "I really have no opinion. I think the league has handled that, and I'm doing the best that I can to move forward and do the best I can to get healthy and get back and help our team."

McCoy was equally vague when asked if Harrison deserved more than the one-game suspension he received.

"I really have no opinion on that," he said. "That's a league matter. That's completely out of my control."

Wearing a flannel overcoat and jeans, McCoy stood in front of his locker for nearly 10 minutes. He was typically polite and alert while addressing his injury, which has overshadowed the final month of Cleveland's season. Other than driving away from the team's facility, McCoy had not been seen since that fateful night at Heinz Field.

McCoy would not say if he has sought any outside medical opinions on his injury, and took the chance to again compliment the Browns' medical personnel.

"I don't want to go there, but our staff here has really been first class through all this and they are doing a great job and again I really am making really good progress," he said. "They've said the same thing to me and I'm telling you the same thing. I'm feeling much better."

McCoy can't practice and it's obvious he won't play Sunday against the Steelers. Backup Seneca Wallace will make his third start in a row in place of McCoy, who won't get a final chance to prove to the Browns that he should be their long-term starter.

McCoy had an inconsistent second pro season, his first running coach Pat Shurmur's West Coast offense. McCoy expects to be evaluated in the offseason by Shurmur, general manager Tom Heckert and president Mike Holmgren like any other player.

"There's two things I can control: One, I can control how hard I work, how hard I prepare; and the second one is I can control how I feel," he said. "I want to be here. I love this city. I love my teammates. I'll do anything. I want to be here, so after that ... speculation has never gotten me anywhere. I'm a factual guy. That's all I've got."

The Browns were criticized in many corners for their handling of McCoy's concussion. In the days that followed, the NFL sent a medical team to Cleveland to meet with the Browns and representative of the Players Association also took part in discussions to see what more could have been done.

Holmgren said the team did not test McCoy for a concussion during the game because trainers and doctors were busy treating other players and did not see Harrison's hit.

Those meetings led to the league instituting a change in its game-day policy on injuries. Teams must have a certified athletic trainer in the press box to monitor play and provide medical staffs with information to help them assist injured players.

Also, in the hours after McCoy was injured, his father condemned the Browns for not checking McCoy more thoroughly and sending him back into the game. Brad McCoy made his comments to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

McCoy was asked if his father's remarks have done damage to his standing with the club.

"No," he said. "But I will say I have talked to my dad and I have addressed some things with my dad and what we talk about I'm going to keep private."

The Browns have had nine players sustain 12 concussions, with McCoy's appearing to be the most serious. Tight end Benjamin Watson also missed three games, but the team placed him on injured reserve after he suffered his third concussion since July.

It's been frustrating for McCoy to be away from his teammates. He said he's watched the past two games from home and doesn't know if he'll be allowed to be on the sideline for the Browns' season finale. Still, it won't be the same as playing.

"The hardest part is not being able to travel or be with your team or be out there at practice with them or be in games," he said. "You work so hard all year long to be able to just be out there and contribute, so that's been the hardest part."

Notes: Browns starting RT Tony Pashos has a stomach virus and didn't practice for the second day in a row. Artis Hicks and Oneil Cousins split reps with the starters. ... Shurmur said he planned to watch Baylor QB Robert Griffin III in the Alamo Bowl. "Tremendous talent, good player," said Shurmur, who was asked if the Heisman Trophy winner fit the West Coast offense. "Good players at all positions fit every offense," he said. ... Shurmur would not say if the Browns plan to re-sign RB Peyton Hillis, who will be a free agent. Hillis, whose season was slowed by injuries and drama, hopes to stay in Cleveland. "I'm a Cleveland Brown at heart," he said. "I fell in love with the fans and the city. We'll see what happens."

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