NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger said he “definitely” will play Sunday against the New York Giants despite a sprained right shoulder.
Mettenberger said Wednesday it’s his body and he feels fine as he works through the soreness. Both the X-rays and MRI exam were negative, and the sixth-round draft pick out of LSU isn’t trying to prove he’s tough. This is his NFL audition with the Titans (2-10).
“Right now this is my team,” Mettenberger said. “I can’t think about next year. All I have is the opportunity to play this Sunday, and who knows what could happen. I could get hurt or whatever. But right now, my opportunity is to play this Sunday and show that yeah, I’m the best guy for this team and hopefully for the future as well.”
Mettenberger sprained his throwing shoulder during the third quarter of a 45-21 loss to Houston after being hit by J.J. Watt. In his five straight starts, the rookie has thrown for 1,270 yards and eight touchdowns with five touchdowns for a 91.8 passer rating. He has thrown a touchdown pass in each of his starts but has yet to win a game for a team that has lost 10 of 11.
“Losing sucks,” Mettenberger said. “It’s that simple. ... Really all we can do is keep grinding, keep staying focused and take it personal really. That’s the only way we can get a win.”
Coach Ken Whisenhunt remains optimistic Mettenberger will play barring a setback. The quarterback was limited in practice, testing his shoulder throwing some short passes.
Whisenhunt said Mettenberger is improving each week, and the coach wants to see him keep that up.
“All this time that he’s getting is invaluable as far as understanding the position and us getting a chance to see what he can do,” Whisenhunt said. “You can’t create a scenario where you can actually work on something that you’d like to see. You hope that some of those things come up, but we’re getting a lot of good information about him.”
Hoyer hands on to starting job:Brian Hoyer held off Johnny Manziel again. The Browns are still his team for the moment.
Cleveland’s struggling veteran quarterback kept his job and will start Sunday against Indianapolis after first-year coach Mike Pettine decided he would be a better choice to lead down the stretch than Manziel, the super-hyped rookie who gave the team a spark last week in a loss at Buffalo.
Hoyer has played poorly for a month, but the Browns (7-5) will stick with him as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
“It’s back to business as usual,” Hoyer said, adding that the past 48 hours have been difficult. “They weren’t the easiest days of my life. I’ve been through a lot. It’s just one more thing to handle some adversity, and it only makes you stronger.”
Pettine described the decision as “close” and “difficult” because of Hoyer’s recent issues, but in the end the Browns coaching staff put more value on his experience and success this season.
“It wasn’t perfect, and he’s made his share of mistakes, but he’s gotten the lion’s share of reps in practice and virtually all of them in games and has us in the thick of a playoff hunt,” Pettine said. “That, to me, was probably the biggest determining factor.”
Pettine said there was some “lively” discussion with his coaching staff, which finally agreed that staying with Hoyer gave the Browns the best chance to win against the Colts. Pettine said Hoyer will not be on a “short leash” and he’s confident the five-year veteran — and Cleveland’s entire offense — can bounce back after a rough stretch of games.
“We need to play better across the board in order for us to get to where we want to be,” he said.
Hoyer was benched in the fourth quarter last week for Manziel after throwing two interceptions against the Bills. Hoyer has just one touchdown pass and six interceptions in his past three games, and his decision-making — one of his strengths earlier this season — has been questionable.
Manziel was impressive in his most significant playing time last week, leading the Browns on an 80-yard touchdown drive in his first series. The former Heisman Trophy winner, who will turn 22 on Saturday, was selected to be Cleveland’s future quarterback.
Manziel wasn’t sure which way the decision would go, and he wishes it had gone differently.
“Just being competitive, there’s a little bit of disappointment,” he said. “But at the same time, I completely trust coach Pettine with this team, and I believe he’s put us in the right situation going forward consistently, and in his mind that’s what he did this week. I trust coach Pettine, and I’m back to doing my job the way I’ve been doing it the past 14 weeks.”
Spiller resumes practicing: Six weeks after breaking his collarbone, Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller returned to practice Wednesday in a move that opens the possibility of him being eligible to resume playing in two weeks.
Though Spiller remains on reserve/injured designated to return list, he was allowed back on the field after being activated by the Bills. He has been out since being hurt in the second quarter of a 17-16 win against Minnesota on Oct. 19.
Spiller has 69 carries for 287 yards.
Austin placed on IR: Cleveland place wide receiver Miles Austin on injured reserve Wednesday after he suffered a kidney injury in Sunday’s loss at Buffalo. Austin, who had seven catches for 86 yards, remains in the Eric County Medical Center, where he was taken by ambulance from Ralph Wilson Stadium after complaining of stomach discomfort.
While the team didn’t provide specifics on the injury, Browns coach Mike Pettine said it’s not serious and that he’s being kept for precautionary reasons.
Chicago signs Feely with Gould doubtful: The Chicago Bears signed veteran kicker Jay Feely with Robbie Gould doubtful for Thursday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys because of a right quadriceps injury.
Gould, who is tied with Kevin Butler for the franchise record with 243 field goals, sat out practice on Tuesday. The Bears brought in Feely on Wednesday.
Feely has converted 82.7 percent of his field-goal attempts over 13 seasons with Atlanta (2001-04), the New York Giants (2005-06), Miami (2007), the New York Jets (2008-09) and Arizona (2010-13).
Kicker Folk sits out of practice: New York Jets kicker Nick Folk did not practice because of a hip flexor injury, but remains optimistic he will be ready to go against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Folk said Wednesday that he felt tightness in his right hip while warming up on the sideline in the third quarter of the Jets’ 16-13 loss to Miami on Monday night.