- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BEREA, OHIO (AP) - Colt McCoy wears No. 12. For the Cleveland Browns, he’s also No. 10.

It’s a number they’d like to stay stuck on.

On Sunday against Cincinnati, McCoy will become the 10th different quarterback to start a season opener for the Browns since 1999, an astonishing statistic and perhaps the single biggest reason the franchise has failed miserably during an expansion era of losses. McCoy follows Ty Detmer, Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn and Jake Delhomme as quarterbacks to begin the year as Cleveland’s starter.

“I hope it stays like this for a while,” McCoy said Wednesday.

In the NFL, quarterback consistency is vital to success. With a revolving door at the game’s most important position, it’s no wonder the Browns have only made the playoffs once and lost at least 10 games nine times in 12 years. Cleveland has been searching for a leader to guide them from the dismal darkness and back to respectability.

McCoy, who showed grit and toughness in eight starts in 2010, just might be the one.

And this season, anyway, he’ll get the chance to succeed or fail.

McCoy’s rise from third-round draft pick to starter happened quickly.

Rewind to last season’s opener. The former Texas star was a raw, out-of-sight, out-of-mind rookie running Cleveland’s scout team in practice. While Delhomme and backup Seneca Wallace took all the snaps, McCoy stood to the side waiting and wondering if his time would ever come.

Buried on the depth chart, McCoy was inactive when the Browns traveled to Tampa Bay in Week 1. But things changed in a hurry. Delhomme severely sprained his ankle against the Buccaneers, Wallace went down with same injury in Week 5, and suddenly McCoy was thrust into a starting role few believed he was ready to handle.

“He was kind of thrown into the fire,” Browns first-year coach Pat Shurmur said.

His personal inferno began in Pittsburgh, where McCoy made his first career start against the Steelers and in front of their Terrible Towel-waving fans. The night before the game, McCoy stood up at a meeting and told his teammates not to worry, he was ready to handle the job.

Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown feared for McCoy.

“I thought, this poor kid,” Brown said. “I hope he’s praying.”

But McCoy proved he belonged, completing 23 of 33 passes for 281 yards despite being sacked five times and pressured numerous others. It was there, at the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers that many of Cleveland’s players became convinced they had found their leader _ at last.

Story Continues →