By Edward Lee
4:48 PM EST, December 21, 2011
What little mystery surrounding the identity of the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in Saturday’s AFC North clash with the Ravens seemed to be cleared Tuesday when coach Pat Shurmur indicated to the Cleveland media that Seneca Wallace, not Colt McCoy, is in line to make his second straight start.
“At this point I’m not ready to say, but more than likely he’ll be the starter, for sure,” Shurmur said of Wallace.
Wallace is no stranger to the Ravens. On Sept. 26, 2010, he connected on 18-of-24 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown in an eventual Ravens 24-17 win.
The scenario of Wallace starting instead of McCoy, who is still dealing with post-concussion symptoms, is one that the Ravens have been well aware of and preparing for.
“We’ve always had a lot of respect for Seneca Wallace as a quarterback and consider him a starter,” coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday. “We’ve felt like they had two starting quarterbacks there. … He’s a playmaker, he’s dangerous out of the pocket, throwing and running. [He is] very accurate, very strong arm, reads them out exceptionally well. He’s a guy we’ve seen before. He had a really good game against us here two years ago, last year. So he’ll be a big challenge for us.”
Wallace was acquired from the Seattle Seahawks via a trade last year by general manager Mike Holmgren, who coached Wallace when he was the head coach in Seattle. At the time, Wallace was expected to be the starter before McCoy impressed enough to end the year as the starter.
But with McCoy battling the concussion he sustained from a Dec. 8 helmet-to-helmet hit by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison, Wallace made his first start since Oct. 10, 2010 when he lined up under center last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Wallace completed 18-of-31 passes for 226 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Greg Little. While Wallace and McCoy are mobile enough to buy time behind the line of scrimmage, Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said Wallace adds the dimension of using his nine years of experience to scramble for yardage.
“Seneca’s a veteran quarterback,” Ngata said. “He’s been around, been in the league for a while. He’s able to see things maybe quicker than McCoy just because he’s been in the league longer. But McCoy is the guy they drafted. They’re both great quarterbacks and athletic, too. They both can run.”
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