We caught up with Cleveland Browns quarterback Connor Shaw about his recent NFL debut.
Shaw finished 14-of-28 passing for 177 yards and an interception Dec. 28 in a 20-10 loss to Baltimore.
An undrafted free agent out of South Carolina, Shaw was the third quarterback to start for the Browns this season and the 22nd for the franchise since 1999. Previous starters Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel were out of the finale with injuries.
What has life been like since the game?
"It's been a pretty hectic last couple of weeks, getting the nod that last week. It was a lot of fun. It was something I can build on. I really appreciate the experience I got from coaches and teammates. I'm looking forward to the offseason."
What were your emotions like leading up to the game?
"At the end of the day it was just another game. I was a little bit anxious for it, but I was super excited and focused for it. I enjoyed playing again. I forgot how fun it was to play. It was probably the most fun I ever had, playing on that stage. Obviously we didn't get the job done, and I wish I could've pulled it out. It was a lot of fun."
What does a guy on the practice squad do?
"It's pretty much the same thing. I'm running the scout team, the opposing quarterback. I was doing the same thing that Brian and Johnny did during meetings. I just didn't suit up on Sundays."
What has been the biggest challenge of adjusting to the NFL?
"The biggest challenge is going against guys that have been in the league for seven and eight years. They know how to be a professional. They know how to win. They've been in pretty much every circumstance you can think of. You just have to get the experience. Once you play more is when you start to build on that and become better."
Your Browns teammates were vocal in their public support of you. How did that make you feel?
"It meant the world. That's why I played with confidence. I knew they had confidence in me and they would have my back no matter what. It was really fun playing with guys like Joe Thomas and people who have been in the league for so long. The amount of support I got from them was awesome."
What king of grade would you give yourself?
"The first three quarters I played pretty good, pretty solid. Obviously it dropped off a little big in the fourth quarter. I was beat up pretty good by the end of the game. We had some things not go our way in the final quarter. I definitely wish I had some plays back, but that's the way it is in most games. I thought I played pretty solid. There were definitely plays I left on the field. For my first start I thought it was pretty successful."
And it was a tough first place to start, in Baltimore. Did you think it would be physical knowing you were playing the Ravens defense?
"It was do-or-die for them. They knew they had a rookie undrafted quarterback making his first start on the road. They pinned their ears back and came after me. I thought we handled it pretty good up until the final quarter. The front seven for Baltimore is as good as anybody in the league."
From a teammate perspective, what is Johnny Manziel like? What's it like to play with him?
"He's a heck of a competitor. He enjoys the game. He enjoys playing football. It's been a privilege to work with him and to learn with him through this season. I think he'll be the first one to tell you he wishes he could take back some things. I think he'll grow in the offseason. I look forward to competing with him when we get back to Cleveland for OTAs."
Did you wish you had receiver Josh Gordon available that last game?
"I honestly think our wide receivers stepped up. They've done that all year. We didn't have Josh the first half of the season. I don't think it would have been much of a difference."
What have coaches told you about the QB situation for when you return for camps?
"All I know is that I signed my contract and I'll be there going into camp. I don't know anything about what they're going to do in the offseason with the quarterback situation. No matter who it is or what it is, I am going to compete like I would always do."
Have you kept up with or talked to your former USC teammates?
"Yeah I still have some good friends on the team. I kept up with them all year. It was hard to watch some of the games because I didn't have the SEC Network up north. I kept up with them as much as I could, stayed in touch with Dylan through the week. I was happy the capped it off with a win against Miami."
What did you think of the season Dylan Thompson had?
"Very productive. He didn't have a lot of help on the other side of the ball, which is pretty obvious. I think he did what he could and he gave South Carolina a fighting chance."
Anything you can say to USC fans to settle their worries about the QB position for next year, considering they don't know who it's going to be?
"They should trust Coach Spurrier's decision of who they put at quarterback. He's done this for a long time. He's had a lot of successful college quarterbacks. In this game of football, you always have people step up, people who can surprise you at any moment. I think they'll be just fine."
Your impression of Connor Mitch from your time around him.
"I think I spent his redshirt year with him. He's grown a lot from what I've seen and what I've heard. I know Coach Mangus has confidence in him and I'm sure Coach Spurrier does as well. This will be a big offseason for him. Hopefully he'll take advantage of it."
And what do you think about fatherhood?
"It's the best. I never thought it would be this awesome, but I'm really enjoying it."