BEREA, Ohio—Jake Delhomme was back at practice Thursday for the first time since injuring his ankle in the first half of the season opening loss to Tampa Bay.
After being listed as doubtful for not practicing on Wednesday, Delhomme was taking limited reps on Thursday. Depending on how he responds after practicing will determine if he or Seneca Wallace starts against the Bengals.
Delhomme talked with the media for the first time in a couple of weeks, but still didn't know if he would be ready for Sunday's game with the Bengals. He was walking with a slight limp in the locker room with his ankle taped heavily.
"It's coming," Delhomme said. "It's better than what it was last week."
Delhomme admitted that he didn't think he would be on the sidelines as long as he has been since the injury occurred.
"I didn't know it would take this long when it happened," he said. "I knew something was bothering me, but in the course of the game the adrenaline keeps you going."
Delhomme doesn't think it will take him long to get back in the rhythm of playing.
"I've been preparing the last three weeks the same way like I've always done," he said. "That hasn't changed. I haven't missed any meetings."
The injury has been reported as a high ankle sprain and there is really not a lot of things you can do to speed up the healing process.
"That's what I've been told by other players," he said. "You do everything you can, but things happen for a reason and I live my life that way. For whatever reason, it happened, I'm very excited to get back out there."
Eric Mangini made it clear, however, that if Delhomme can play Sunday against Cincinnati, he will be the starter.
"We have to see (how he responds after practicing)," Mangini said. "He's the starting quarterback and if can play, he'll start."
Mangini said that Delhomme will be limited on Thursday, but both he and Seneca Wallace will get reps in the next two days.
"I have confidence in both guys and my expectation in Seneca is he will do a good job when he plays," Mangini said. "But Jake is our starting quarterback and when he is healthy he will start. I have a lot of confidence in Jake."
Mangini said he likes having two quarterbacks that can move the offense.
"It's good when you have two quarterbacks you can talk about and have the comfort level with the second guy where when he goes in he plays well," Mangini said. "It's much better to be in that situation than the other one. You take all the information in and make a decision. Typically, when the starter goes out, when he comes back he goes back in."
Wallace has a QB rating of 86.2 and he went over 100 against the Ravens. He is 34-of-55 for 370 yards (61.8 pct.) with two touchdowns and one interception. Delhomme was 20-of-37 for 227 yards (54.1 pct.) with one touchdown and two interceptions in his only game. His rating was 59.2.
Mangini was asked since Delhomme went out with an injury, what would Wallace have to do to keep the starting position.
"It is tough to answer hypothetical questions," he said. "But based on the body of work we have on Jake, he gives us the best chance to win. Not taking anything from Seneca, but based on what we've seen as a whole, that is the decision we made.
"It's not simply just comparing them," he added. "Jake does a lot of things well and Seneca does a lot of things well. Jake is the starter. He has a presence, he gets us out of a lot of (bad) plays."
Injury Update: DL Kenyon Coleman (knee), QB Jake Delhomme (ankle), DB Derrick Roberson (hip), DL Shaun Rogers (ankle, hip), DL Robaire Smith (back), OL John St. Clair (ankle), LB Jason Trusnik (head) and FB Lawrence Vickers (groin) did not practice on Wednesday and were listed as doubtful on the first injury report. WR Josh Cribbs (ankle), RB James Davis (thigh), RB Jerome Harrison (thigh), OL Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and WR Brian Robiskie (hamstring) were all questionable.
Besides Delhomme, Mangini said that Trusnik may be back either Thursday or Friday. He said the starting defensive linemen should practice Friday.
"I expect all the defensive linemen back tomorrow," he said.
Mangini was asked if OL Tony Pashos would start over St. Clair.
"I'm not sure about St. Clair, maybe (Friday) he'll practice," Mangini said. "I am not sure what his status will be (Sunday).
"I thought Tony did a nice job when he went in," he said. "It will be more of a function of can John play as a starter or as a backup. We'll see where he is Friday."
Mangini said Lauvao came through his first practice, but was rusty.
"He looked pretty good," Mangini said. "He was fairly limited. There has been a big break since he last played. He'll get more reps Thursday and we'll get a better feel after today and tomorrow with the understanding he's feeling he way back in there."
Jerome's Status: RB Jerome Harrison said he didn't know what his role on the team was when asked on Wednesday, but Mangini defined his role when asked.
"His role is to go in and carry the ball and take care of the ball when he's asked to," he said. "If there's any uncertainty, I'm available. I'm here every day and will be happy to talk with any player about their role."
If Harrison is available to play Sunday, Mangini said there will be certain plays for both he and RB Peyton Hillis.
"There will be packages for both guys," Mangini said. "It will be dictated by what is working. I'm happy with what Peyton did last week. Jerome has done some good things in the past."