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News » Anderson's five-week audition Enchanting Cassel NFC North showdown Final charge

Anderson's five-week audition Enchanting Cassel NFC North showdown Final charge

Anderson's five-week audition Enchanting Cassel NFC North showdown Final charge



In a few months, Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson went from standout starter to bench sitter to job seeker.

Anderson will start today when Cleveland (4-7) plays host to Indianapolis (7-4) only because quarterback Brady Quinn has been placed on injured reserve with a broken index finger on his right throwing hand.

But even though Quinn proved inconsistent during his three starts in place of Anderson, Browns coach Romeo Crennel announced last week that Quinn would be the starter next season regardless of how Anderson, the former Scappoose High School and Oregon State star, plays in the final five games of this year.

"When (Quinn) comes back, he's going to be the quarterback," Crennel told reporters last week. "Quinn is the starter."

Pressed further about the decision, Crennel said: "D.A. was the starter; you guys hated him. Quinn goes in and plays and now you're telling me if D.A. lights it up, you want him to be the starter. I have decided that Quinn is going to be the starter. I'm sorry if you don't like that."

Crennel benched Anderson, who made the Pro Bowl last season, after his inconsistent play produced a 66 passer rating and the team stood 3-5. In three starts, Quinn's passer rating was 66.6. In Quinn's defense, he played last week against Houston with the broken finger and looked sharper in parts of two previous games in which Cleveland scored 59 points.

Quinn, a first-round pick in 2007 and an Ohio native, now has been anointed the team's quarterback. So what to do with Anderson? He was given a three-year, $24 million contract last offseason that included $13 million in guaranteed money. Also, Anderson is due a $5 million roster bonus in March.

That's a hefty price to pay for a backup, which means that if Crennel is serious about Quinn being the starter, Anderson could be traded next offseason.

However, Crennel might be in no position to name any starters beyond this season. Although last offseason he signed a two-year contract extension through 2011 worth $4 million, Crennel's job is not considered safe. Team owner Randy Lerner said last week that he would not wait until January to decide on the futures of both Crennel and general manager Phil Savage.

As for Anderson, he said about all that he could say about the situation.

"I'm not worried about next year," Anderson told reporters Wednesday. "When that time comes, if I'm here, I'm here giving everything I've got. If I'm somewhere else, I'm somewhere else. I'm not going to worry about that, and when the time comes, I'll deal with it."

Enchanting Cassel

New England quarterback Matt Cassel has been turned loose, and the Patriots are nearing their 2007 form, when they tore through the league with Tom Brady running the offense. After Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, the Patriots turned to little-used Cassel, who was ill-prepared to run the spread passing game that Brady used to throw an NFL-record 50 touchdown passes last season. But in New England's last two games, against the New York Jets and Miami, the Patriots returned to the spread, and Cassel completed 60 of 94 passes for 815 yards and six touchdowns with one interception. The real test for Cassel comes today when New England (7-4) plays host to Pittsburgh (8-3). The Steelers lead the league in total defense and passing defense.

NFC North showdown

Green Bay's loss at New Orleans on Monday night broke a three-way tie atop the NFC North. Tonight, Minnesota (6-5) and Chicago (6-5) will break the remaining two-way tie when they meet in Minneapolis. It's a must-win for the Vikings, who lost the first meeting in a 48-41 shootout. A Bears win tonight would give them a two-game lead over the Packers and effectively a two-game lead over the Vikings because of the head-to-head sweep. "This is the part of the season where we know where we are, we know our situation," Minnesota quarterback Gus Frerotte said. "Now we're battling for first place, and this is our point where we have to start. We won our big game last week, and now it's the next game."

Final charge

One of the most perplexing stories of this season has been the rapid decline of the San Diego Chargers . Winners of the AFC West the past two season, the Chargers (4-7) have equaled their combined loss total of the past two seasons a year removed from having reached the AFC Championship game. But all is not lost for a team that was outscored by a combined 28 points in its seven defeats. San Diego trails Denver (6-5) by just two games and has the easier schedule before the two teams meet in the final week of the season. "As bad as it's been --and I don't know how much longer we can say it, but at least this week we're still in the hunt for everything we set out to accomplish," San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers told reporters.

Aaron Fentress

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 1, 2008

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Joe Thomas Name: Joe Thomas
Position: OL
Age: 23
Experience: 2 years
College: Wisconsin
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