BEREA—There are many story lines as the Eric Mangini era of the Browns begins, but none are overshadowed by the quarterback battle of Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.
With the Browns, it seems to be a rite of passage every summer that there is some type of uncertainty at quarterback.
Mangini declared an open competition heading into training camp and said the duo was starting at even. Mangini gave Quinn a slight advantage heading into the team’s off-season OTAs and minicamps, but said they were even at the conclusion of the June practices.
He echoed that sentiment after the morning practice.
“It’s pretty much the same as it was when we broke after the spring practices,” Mangini said.
If you’re scoring at home, the first practice went to Anderson. He looked sharp in the workout and hit rookie receiver Brian Robiskie on a crossing route for a touchdown and also Syndric Steptoe. However, he was intercepted by Mike Adams.
“It was just a crossing pattern,” Robiskie said. “DA made a good read and the ball was there.”
Consistent to his nature, Anderson threw more down field than Quinn did.
“I’m excited to be in camp, but I don’t want to talk about (the quarterback competition) everyday,” Anderson said.
“I just am going to go play and be me,” Anderson said. “I can only control what I can control.”
Quinn threw more short passes and had no interceptions, but nothing spectacular.
“My confidence is there,” Quinn said. “My body feels better than it has at any other training camp going in.”
Quinn said he feels that at the NFL level you’re always under the microscope.
“There is always competition,” he said. “If everyone focuses on their job and the plan that God has for each one everything will take care of itself.”
Mangini admitted that the offense outperformed the defense, at least in the first practice.
“I thought the offense did a nice job this morning and they got a little jump on the defense,” Mangini said.
The quarterbacks have been in camp since last Monday.
“One of the advantages of coming in has allowed us to be a step ahead,” Quinn said. “The quarterbacks are playing more confidently.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but I think we are all more cohesive as a group,” he said. “Coach Mangini has allowed us to spend time getting to know our teammates and I think it helps.”
Mangini said the top two quarterbacks will split the reps down the middle, giving no timeline when he will name a starter.
“It will alternate depending on the area we’re working on,” Mangini said. “We’ll make sure all of the reps are balanced in all areas.
“It’s designed the way it’s designed and whatever happens, happens.”
Mangini has said that he’s looking for leadership, huddle presence, among other characteristics, but in the end, there’s only one thing that matters.
“You evaluate them both on who you think is going to give you the best chance to win,” he said. “That is the overriding factor in everything we’re doing.”
Tucker Ready: There were rumors that OL Ryan Tucker was contemplating retirement after undergoing hip surgery after last season.
“When I was lying in bed the fourth week after the hip surgery, I had some thoughts (about retirement),” Tucker said.
“It feels good to be back out here,” he said. “I have my eye on the prize. I’m just working on getting back up to game speed.”
D-Linemen Dancing: DL Corey Williams and Robaire Smith were dancing on the sidelines to the music blaring during practice. The duo are back after having off-season procedures. Williams played most of the 2008 season with a shoulder injury, while Smith had a major injury as he tore his Achilles.
“Williams is out there practicing in our system and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do,” Mangini said.
“Robaire Smith is a big, strong man,” Mangini said. “He always has been and we have seen a lot of good things from him early on.”
Red Shirt: TE Steve Heiden was out in practice with a noticeable red shirt on. He was the only player on the field in a red shirt.
“His contact is limited and we want to make sure everyone knows that,” Mangini said.
Goal posts: The goal post that K Phil Dawson is kicking through on the practice field is noticeably closer than the normal goal post. It was estimated to be about eight feet wide. Dawson hit several through the narrow uprights, one from 35 to 40 yards at the end of practice.
Vick Won’t be a Dawg: Mangini was asked if he was interested in signing free agent QB Michael Vick.
“We don’t and I’m happy with the quarterbacks we have,” he said.
Status Quo: Mangini said that there has been no update on WR Donte Stallworth’s indefinite suspension from the NFL.
“It is still status quo,” Mangini said. “We respect the process.”