Browns QB carousel comes to Denver
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER ” The Cleveland Browns are wondering who’s going to win their quarterback derby and their trip to Denver could start to solve that mystery.
The Broncos are curious about how their depleted defense is going to stand up after dismal outings in San Francisco and Dallas, who will win jobs up front and whether linebacker D.J. Williams can cut it in the middle.
With Browns quarterbacks out to stake their claim on the starter’s job and Denver’s defense focused on quieting the yells of new defensive boss Jim Bates, the exhibition game Saturday has plenty of intrigue.
The Broncos lost two incumbent starters on the defensive line this week: Ebenezer Ekuban, who had surgery Thursday to repair a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, and Gerard Warren, who was shipped to Oakland.
That would appear to open up chances for the rookies, but first-rounder Jarvis Moss is still making up for lost time after tweaking a knee and second-rounder Tim Crowder will miss the game with a sprained ankle that has sidelined him for two weeks.
The Broncos also are banged up on offense, where guard Ben Hamilton (concussion) and their top two running backs, Travis Henry (knee) and Mike Bell (hip), are sidelined.
Converted fullback Cecil Sapp will try to take advantage of Bell’s absence and show his coaches he can be counted on to be Henry’s primary backup, and rookie free agent Selvin Young will try to make the most of his carries to make the team.
Brandon Stokley will make his Broncos debut after recovering from a thigh injury that hampered his return from an Achilles’ tendon repair in the offseason.
But the big drama is who will put Cleveland’s quarterback drama to rest.
Browns coach Romeo Crennel has said he might not name a starter until the week before the Sept. 9 opener. He has Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn and Ken Dorsey to choose from.
Frye will start against Denver, but so far he and Anderson have failed to impress the Browns coaches or their fans, who are clamoring to see more of Quinn, the rookie from Notre Dame who threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes against Detroit in his NFL debut last weekend.
Quinn might get some time with the starters to show his stuff.
He went 13-of-20 for 155 yards and played with poise and confidence, something neither Frye nor Anderson has shown much of this month, but he downplayed his performance against candidates on the fringes of the Lions’ roster.
Crennel said Quinn will get more playing time against the Broncos but wouldn’t specify when or how much. But another strong showing could move Quinn past Anderson on the depth chart ” if he hasn’t passed him already.
Quinn missed the first 11 days in a contract holdout but said he feels his game is coming around: “I feel good. I feel confident. I think things are starting to flow,” he said.
The Broncos don’t have a quarterback quandary. They handed the job to rookie Jay Cutler with five weeks left last season and he nearly led them to the playoffs.
Cutler, however, hasn’t wowed anybody this preseason ” unlike last year, when his arm strength was in such stark contrast to then-starter Jake Plummer. This summer, Cutler’s been bothered a bit by tendinitis in his throwing wrist, and more than that, he’s been vexed by injuries all around him.
Cutler will be handing off to Sapp, Young and maybe Cedric Cobbs, who was waived in May and re-signed this week.
“We’re working things out,” Cutler said. “I feel comfortable with the guys. I’m going to feel even more comfortable once we get everyone back and healthy.”
Young, whose block cleared the way for Vince Young’s game-winning touchdown run in the Rose Bowl that gave Texas the 2005 national title, had an assortment of injuries in college, including a broken ankle that sidelined him for most of 2004.
He’s healthy now and this is his best chance to show the Broncos he can contribute.
“I haven’t been healthy in four years, which is probably why a lot of people would wonder, ‘What can this kid do?”‘ said Young, who declared he hasn’t felt this good since he was a senior in high school. “I’m having so much fun with it. No pressure, none at all. It’s fun to be able to run around healthy.”