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Josh McCown to start Sunday on road against Rams

The Bears announced Monday that Josh McCown will make his second straight start Sunday against the Rams in St. Louis in place of Jay Cutler, who remains sidelined with a high ankle sprain.

McCown improved to 2-0 as a starter this season Sunday when he completed 19 of 31 passes for 216 yards with one touchdown and a 92.9 passer rating in a 23-20 overtime win over the Ravens.


Josh McCown celebrates as he leaves the field after the Bears' 23-20 overtime win over the Ravens.
"Josh is a leader," said receiver Brandon Marshall. "He's one of our captains even though he doesn't have a 'C' on his chest. He's awesome. He's been awesome for us. You can't ask for a better guy to lead the huddle."

Appearing in the last four games in place of the injured Cutler, McCown has thrown for 754 yards with five touchdowns, no interceptions on 101 attempts and a stellar 100.0 passer rating.

"Josh is a long-time pro," said center Roberto Garza. "He knows what it takes to get ready for a football game. Without taking any reps and a new offense the entire season, to be able to step in and do what he has, it's a tribute to his preparation and the coaching staff getting him ready for the game."

The Bears have not committed a turnover in McCown's two starts against the Packers and Ravens, and they have only two giveaways in their last five games, their fewest in any five-game stretch since at least 1950.

Protecting the ball as well as he did Sunday was particularly impressive given the horrendous playing conditions, which included sheets of rain, strong gusty winds and a muddy field.

"We were very efficient doing that on what you would expect to be a day where we might have turned it over," said coach Marc Trestman. "Teams turn it over in rain and in wind and we were able to hang onto the football."

"There was a heightened sense of ball security," McCown said. "Marc and I talked about that before the game; wanting to get out of this thing on the plus side of it on turnovers. We were able to do that and we were able to protect the ball. I'm proud of everyone involved for getting that done."

McCown was at his best when it mattered most Sunday, completing 9 of 11 passes for 132 yards and 1 TD in the fourth quarter and overtime. He set up Robbie Gould's game-winning 38-yard field goal by completing passes on back-to-back plays to Alshon Jeffery for 14 yards on third-and-nine and Martellus Bennett for 43 yards.

McCown is always upbeat in the huddle, but he was especially fired up when the Bears took possession of the ball following a Baltimore punt at their own 20 with 12:19 remaining in overtime.

"We just talked about the opportunity," McCown said. "You have opportunities in life, rare opportunities, to do something special. The cool part about it is that it is a chance to be special not individually but a chance to be special together. We just talked about that a little bit."

After appearing in 47 games with 31 starts with the Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Panthers and Bears from 2002-12, McCown is playing the best football of his life. But Trestman doesn't think it's because of his quarterback-friendly offense.

"I never look at things that way," Trestman said. "Josh is a talented player and he plays within himself. I know that's a common coaching term. But he knows what his strengths are. He plays to his strengths. He tries to keep things simple in terms of how he does things, and he's got a great work ethic.

"I would never put it on the system. I would put it more on the work ethic of the player; his focus on doing the job well. He's detail-oriented, just like Jay is and quarterbacks who are efficient playing the game. They're very detail-oriented. Josh is one of those guys."

In addition to his ability to step in and perform well at a moment's notice, McCown is also an ideal No. 2 quarterback because he knows his role behind Cutler, whose status remains week-to-week.

"I have said this over and over again: I'm the backup quarterback on this team," McCown said. "The way that I serve my team is to play when the starter is not healthy. Jay is our starting quarterback, there is no doubt about that."

Trestman reiterated Monday that Cutler will reclaim the No. 1 position when he's healthy.

"Jay is the quarterback of our football team and Josh is our backup quarterback and the three of us all know that," Trestman said. "That hasn't changed and it's not going to change."

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