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News » And so the battle begins

And so the battle begins

And so the battle begins

Dana Point, Calif. - Are you ready for another open competition for the Browns' starting quarterback spot?

Like a new season of "American Idol" auditions, the whole shebang starts up yet again.

Coach Eric Mangini officially declared the competition between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn under way at a Tuesday breakfast sitdown with reporters at the NFL owners meetings.

Mangini announced the open competition in response to the first question posed him.

"I don't have a projected starter at this point," the coach said. "What we're going to do is we'll have an open competition where they'll both get a chance to establish that they'll be the starter."

Mangini said he met with both quarterbacks in Cleveland last week and explained his plans.

"I talked to both of them about that and was very clear," Mangini said. "I said if they have any questions, they can come and see me, in terms of the competition and their opportunities. That's what I told them. They understand that."

Anderson and Quinn remain the subject of trade rumors, partly because Mangini and General Manager George Kokinis keep qualifying that they will do anything to improve the team.

"But I'm in no way saying that is specific to the quarterback situation," Mangini said.

Technically, this would be the first time in their three years together that Anderson and Quinn are pitted in direct competition for the job.

In 2007, the Browns deftly led Quinn into a rookie contract dispute while they created a competition between Anderson and Charlie Frye. Neither player won it, so Frye, the incumbent, held on to the job. He was yanked in the second quarter of a miserable loss to Pittsburgh in the first game and then traded. Anderson went on to earn a Pro Bowl alternate berth as the Browns won 10 games.

In 2008, Anderson outperformed Quinn in camp, effectively laying to rest any quarterback controversy. But after the Browns sputtered to a 3-5 start, former coach Romeo Crennel replaced Anderson with Quinn in a belated attempt to save his job. Former GM Phil Savage and his staff were against the move.

Quinn went 1-2 in three starts before a season-ending finger injury, for which he needed surgery. Crennel then anointed Quinn the starter for 2009, another job-saving move that failed.

Anderson came back for another start and suffered a season-ending knee injury. On Tuesday, Mangini would not say if Anderson needed surgery to repair the injury.

Their final numbers for 2008:

Anderson, 3-6 in nine starts, 50.2 completion percentage, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions and a passer rating of 66.5.

Quinn, 1-2 in three starts, 50.6 completion percentage, two touchdowns, two interceptions, 66.6 passer rating.

"I'm excited about both of them," Mangini said. "I like both guys. I've been able to spend time with both guys. I like a lot of the things that I've learned about them in terms of through the conversations and also things that I've seen on tape.

"Without knowing exactly what they were being asked to do on each of the plays, you're projecting a little bit. But they both seemed to have good presence. A good command of the situation. And they each did different things in the passing game and the running game that I liked."

Mangini said he has no timetable in naming his starter.

"I've been through this before, and it's like when you get engaged. You just know," he said.

He said he will manage the competition like he did his first season with the Jets in 2006. In that four-man circus, Mangini divided repetitions equally. He would alternate quarterbacks by the practice period, by the day, even by the interception.

The Browns have had seven different opening-game starting quarterbacks in the past 10 seasons.

With the Jets, Mangini opened his first two seasons with Chad Pennington his starter. He pulled Pennington for Kelly Clemens at midseason in 2007, and then the Jets replaced both with Brett Favre in 2008.

On other issues, Mangini:

Disclosed that Josh Cribbs has been attending both offensive and defensive meetings during the conditioning program. Ideally, Mangini would like to use Cribbs for 10 to 15 plays on offense and on defense as an extra cornerback or safety in games. "Or maybe it just becomes 'this is where he's best' and we go with that. It's nice to have guys who can learn different spots," he said.

Defended the team's addition of seven free agents who will begin the season age 32 or over. "I think there's value in veteran leadership," Mangini said.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: tgrossi@plaind.com, 216-999-4670

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 27, 2009

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