CLEVELAND (AP) — Johnny Manziel is preparing to start against unbeaten Cincinnati on Thursday night because Josh MCown is still struggling with a painful rib injury.
McCown took several hard hits in Sunday’s 34-20 loss to Arizona, and the 36-year-old quarterback said Tuesday that it’s been difficult to breathe or sleep since the game.
McCown would not rule himself out against the Bengals, but he didn’t sound optimistic his injury would be significantly better by kickoff.
McCown would not disclose whether his ribs were broken, but his difficulty with breathing and lingering soreness from hits he took two weeks ago in St. Louis indicate he’s probably dealing with more than bruising. The quick turnaround will make it even more challenging for him to be ready for the AFC North-leading Bengals (7-0).
Manziel took the majority of snaps in practice with Cleveland’s starting offense last week when McCown was limited by a sore right shoulder and ribs.
Manziel, who won his only start earlier this season when McCown was out with a concussion, remains under investigation by the NFL for a recent domestic dispute.
The league is looking at whether Manziel violated its personal conduct policy. A spokesman said the review is ongoing.
Manziel started against the Bengals last season and was roughed up in a 30-0 loss. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 80 yards and was sacked three times. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was also taunted by several Cincinnati’s players, who mimicked his “money” sign, a finger-rubbing gesture Manziel has since dropped.
McCown believes Manziel is ready to go if called upon.
“He was here last year, so he’s been through two weeks of preparation for this team and on a short week as well,” he said. “So he’s drawing from those experiences, and just like any work week we’ll work well together to make sure we’re both prepared and ready to go.”