- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BEREA, OHIO (AP) - Steelers one week. Super Bowl champs the next.

As NFL baptisms go, it can’t possibly get any rougher for a rookie quarterback.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Browns QB Colt McCoy said Wednesday. “What a challenge, what an opportunity, a chance to go out on the field and get better and get this team back on track.”

Tough Texas kid or naive newbie? We’ll see.

McCoy, so impressive in his debut last week in Pittsburgh, will make his second straight start Sunday at New Orleans when the Browns visit the Superdome, one of the league’s loudest venues where even the most seasoned quarterback can be rattled by the deafening din.

Unless quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace make miraculous recoveries from high ankle sprains in the next few days, McCoy will start against the Saints.

No need to light a prayer candle.

Because despite fears he would be decapitated by one of the blitzing Steelers linebackers _ James Harrison saved his big hits for Browns wide receivers _ or rushed into throwing a handful of interceptions, McCoy acquitted himself well in a 28-10 loss last week.

He showed poise, toughness and enough promise to make the Browns believe the third-round pick, whose size may have scared off a few teams during the draft, can be their future quarterback.

Emphasis on can be.

In one of the league’s nastiest, most intimidating environments, McCoy finished 23 of 33 for 281 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. But his stats were only part of the story. The night before his first Browns-Steelers game, McCoy stood in front of his teammates, and in his country-fried accent, declared he was ready to stare down the black-and-gold beast.

“I told them the hay was in the barn,” McCoy said. “Just meant we worked really hard all week and we were prepared and we had a good game plan.”

Did he have to explain the expression?

“For some of the city folk, I had to,” McCoy said.

On Tuesday, Browns president Mike Holmgren summoned McCoy to his office to offer his critique on the 23-year-old’s first pro outing. The guru of quarterback gurus who coached Joe Montana, Steve Young and Brett Favre, Holmgren complimented McCoy and offered some advice.

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