BEREA, Ohio -- Seneca Wallace doesn't walk so much as glide. And as the Browns' backup quarterback saunters into the locker room following practice he looks and acts every bit like Cleveland's starter.
He probably will be Sunday.
With Colt McCoy still experiencing headaches and not practicing from a concussion suffered in Pittsburgh last week, Wallace, who has spent most of his NFL career as an understudy, will likely start when the Browns (4-9) visit the Arizona Cardinals.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur has not yet ruled McCoy out, but all signs are pointing to Wallace making his first start this season -- and his 19th in nearly 10 pro seasons.
"Seneca's taken all the reps," Shurmur said before Thursday's practice. "And as the days go by and Colt hasn't practiced, it's two plus two."
McCoy was sent home for the third time this week with lingering symptoms from the wallop he took from Steelers linebacker James Harrison, suspended one game for the vicious helmet-to-chin blow. Shurmur said all players needing treatment begin their day in the training room, and if they are unable to take part in meetings or are still feeling poorly, they are sent home to rest.
McCoy's future with the Browns remains uncertain, and with only three games left, he's running out of time to show the club he can be their long-time starter.
Browns general manager Tom Heckert said no decisions have been made on McCoy -- or any other players.
"We'll have to really, really look at it after the season," Heckert said. "He's done some good things. But the whole evaluation will be done afterward. We just haven't sat down and broken down every play. There's no decisions being made."
Heckert feels the Browns have seen enough of McCoy to make a judgment and assess him fairly.
This week, they'll get another look at Wallace, whom they re-signed as a free agent before the lockout.
Wallace has played in three games this season as a reserve, twice coming off the bench to fill in for an injured McCoy and once lining up at wide receiver.
If McCoy can't play this week, and that seems to be a near certainty, the Browns are expecting Wallace to step in and run their West Coast offense.
"We won't miss a beat," wide receiver Josh Cribbs said. "Seneca is very capable of stepping in and keeping the ball rolling. He has a lot of talent."
Wallace came off the bench cold last week after McCoy was flattened by Harrison and completed his only pass, a 13-yarder to tight end Evan Moore that gave the Browns a first down at the Steelers' 5. That's when McCoy made his shocking return after missing two plays and threw a costly interception in the end zone.
Wallace refused to discuss last week's events, which have hung over the Browns for days as the NFL launched an investigation into the team's treatment of McCoy.
"I'm not going to talk about that," Wallace snapped earlier this week. "It's over. I'm done with that."
Wallace's focus is on the Cardinals, and getting the Browns' into the end zone.
Before coming to Cleveland, the 31-year old Wallace spent seven seasons running Shurmur's West Coast offense for Browns president Mike Holmgren in Seattle. He knows the system as well as anyone and he's excited about the chance to show what he can do.
That's the way it's always been for Wallace. Just don't ask him if he's got anything to prove.
"It's not about proving to anybody that I can be a starter," said Wallace, who went 3-5 for the Seahawks in 2008. "My peers understand and know that I'm capable of leading the team and doing the things well to be a starter. That's all I worry about. I can't deal with the politics side of playing quarterback and other things that come along with it.
"I stay in my lane around here. I wait until my opportunity comes."
Wallace made four starts for the Browns last season, taking over when starter Jake Delhomme suffered a high ankle. Wallace may have kept the job, but he sustained the same injury, allowing McCoy to rise from No. 3 to the top of the depth chart as a rookie.
Now, Wallace may have a chance to finish what he didn't start.
"I hate to see Colt hurt and out, but maybe this team needs a spark," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "Maybe this team needs a different look."
Wallace could have gone elsewhere during the offseason. He knew the Browns were committed to McCoy, but he liked the idea of staying put and wanted security before the labor situation unraveled. He signed a three-year contract to remain with the Browns.
"I'm still happy about my decision," he said, "and now I get my opportunity to prepare this team."
Shurmur was thrilled Wallace wanted to come back even though he knew his chances of starting were slim.
"He was well aware of the fact that we were going to move forward with Colt as the starter," Shurmur said. "But he knew that he would have a chance to compete here in a system that was familiar to him and we're glad he stayed. Now he's having his opportunity. I'm anticipating that he's going to go out and execute extremely well."
Wallace's teammates are sure of it, too.
And even if he struggles, they're sure Wallace will look good doing it.
"He's one of the coolest people I've ever met," cornerback Joe Haden said. "You never see him too happy or too sad. He's always chillin'. He's smooth, real smooth."
Shurmur said TE Benjamin Watson visited a specialist after suffering his third concussion this season. Shurmur said it's possible Watson's season is over. ... Heckert made it clear the Browns want to sign LB D'Qwell Jackson, who will be a free agent in March. "You can pretty much say he's going to be here," Heckert said. He's also set on keeping K Phil Dawson, whom the Browns kept with a franchise tag. "We would love Phil to be back," he said. ... Heckert said finding playmakers will be a priority for next season. "We just need to score points and get some people that defenses are afraid of," he said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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