BEREA, Ohio (AP) Josh McCown played catch during the early portion of his first practice since Oct. 30, a small but significant step as the Browns starting quarterback recovers from a painful rib injury.
McCown tossed passes on the sideline Wednesday with quarterbacks coach Kevin O'Connell while reporters were allowed to observe Cleveland's outdoor workout. McCown had a helmet with him, but did not put it on.
Browns coach Mike Pettine said McCown will be limited in practice and could still play Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Pettine said McCown threw some on Tuesday and has made progress from the injury sustained on Nov. 1 against Arizona. McCown did not practice last week and was inactive for a loss at Cincinnati as Johnny Manziel made his fourth career start.
Pettine said the Browns will know more about McCown's status after he practices Wednesday. Pettine does not have a ''drop dead'' time to name his starter for the Steelers.
''We'll just see how he responds,'' Pettine said. ''Just kind of going through the treatment and just some throwing yesterday, it's a progression. That's why we use day to day. We'll know a lot more after today and see how he responds to the day of work.''
Manziel played well in the first half at Cincinnati, but the Bengals kept him in the pocket after halftime and rolled to a 31-10 win.
It's assumed Manziel will start if the 36-year-old McCown can't play, but Pettine said ''not many jobs around here are etched in stone.'' Austin Davis is Cleveland's third-string quarterback.
While McCown is back, Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner remain in the NFL's concussion protocol.
Online: AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL