BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Another name can be added to the famed Browns quarterback jersey.
Rookie Connor Shaw will start the season finale Sunday in Baltimore.
Head coach Mike Pettine named Shaw the starter following Friday’s practice which saw Brian Hoyer ride the exercise bike and sit out all week. Hoyer is officially listed as doubtful for the game.
“I’m excited about it,” Shaw said. “It was a good week of practice and I had a lot of support from coaches and teammates and I’m confident going into this game with the game plan and we’ll see what happens on Sunday.”
The Browns will have to elevate Shaw, who is an undrafted rookie free agent from South Carolina, from the practice squad and make a roster move by 4 p.m. Saturday.
“I’m just going to go play with my capability and my style of play,” Shaw said. “Nothing is going to change. I’m not in garnet and black anymore, I’m in white and brown and orange. It’s football at the end of the day.”
Shaw will be the 22nd different starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999 and marks the third straight year, fourth in 5 and sixth in 16 years, that the Browns end a season with their third quarterback.
“It’s a challenge and you can’t sugarcoat that but we look forward to it,” Pettine said. “If we go out and perform at all the other positions really well, that’s going to minimize the impact.”
Shaw, who went 27-5 in four years with the Gamecocks, will face a tough Ravens defense which boasts 2 of the best pass rushers in the game in Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs who have 17 and 11 sacks respectively this season.
“I’ve just got to be aware of them,” Shaw said. “I’ve got to stay in the pocket and I’ve got to step up when they rush wide. I’m just going to play the game like I know how to play it. Of course, they are really good athletes and good players, but I trust my left tackle and right tackle to get the job done.”
Starting Shaw applies even more pressure to an over-taxed defense to keep Joe Flacco and the Ravens in check.
“We would never go into a game thinking we don’t need to play as well defensively,” Pettine said. “That’s the formula to win, but the obvious statement is that you’re starting an undrafted rookie quarterback. I don’t think that we’re going to look to go down there and try to win one 41-38. It needs to be along the lines of 3-2.”
Shaw will likely be backed up Sunday by Tyler Thigpen, who was signed on Tuesday.
Hoyer was unable to practice this week after sustaining a shoulder injury during the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s 17-13 loss at Carolina. Rookie Johnny Manziel was placed on injured reserve earlier this week after sustaining a hamstring injury against the Panthers as well.
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