Brett Ratliff needs one of those, “Hello, my name is …” tags.
Mention the subject of Browns quarterbacks and only two names come up, those of Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn. That’s understandable to a great degree, because those are the two players in an open competition for the job. Their names are on the tongue of every Browns fan, and every radio sports talk show host in the region. Quarterback controversies are big in Cleveland, and this one is about as big as there have ever been.
However, it’s as if those are the only two quarterbacks on the roster. There are two others in Richard Bartel, who spent almost all of 2008 on the practice squad of the Browns, and Brett Ratliff.
Ratliff is the more interesting one of the two if only because of the makeup of the Browns coaching staff. Head coach Eric Mangini had the same job the last two seasons with the New York Jets when Ratliff was with the team. In both 2007 and ’08, Ratliff’s position coach with the Jets was Brian Daboll, now his offensive coordinator in Cleveland.
Ratliff came to the Browns with Abram Elam, Kenyon Coleman and the Jets’ first- and second-round picks in the 2009 NFL Draft for the Browns’ first-round selection this year.
“I was excited to be part of that trade,” Ratliff said Wednesday morning following practice. “On one hand, it was sad to come to a new team and leave all your old teammates behind, but it was good to get back under Coach Mangini and Coach Daboll.”
So while Quinn and Anderson go through the ups and downs of trying to learn a new offense, Ratliff is already familiar with it because most of it is derived from the scheme the Jets ran the last two years. He spent all of 2007 on the Jets practice squad and all of last season as that team’s No. 3 quarterback. He said his coming out party occurred in last year’s preseason opener at Cleveland. He played the last three quarters of a 24-20 New York victory, with his first pass going for a 71-yard touchdown.
“I’m very comfortable with this offense,” he said.
And it has showed. Ratliff has had his moments in camp, but they’ve gone virtually unnoticed because everyone has been fixated on only Quinn and Anderson.
“Yes, I am here, too,” Ratliff said.
But that’s as far as he’ll go.
“They’ve really not told me what my role will be, but I’ve got to do the job they want me to do, whatever it is,” Ratliff said.
“I just want to play football.”
Even if no one in Cleveland is paying attention when he’s doing it.
BETTER THAN THE BEST: In his press conference after returning to practice Wednesday, Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards said 2007 was not the best season of his overall career. Playing in 16 games, he had 80 catches that year and set Browns teams records for receiving yards (1,289) and touchdown grabs (16). He never said specifically which one of his seasons he thought was better than that, but it had to have been 2004 at Michigan. In 11 games as a senior that year, he had 97 catches for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns. He makes a good case.
DIFFERENT YEAR, DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHY: Another example of how much more physical this camp has been already than any of the four ex-Browns head coach Romeo Crennel ran, came when Mangini ran an extensive goal-line drill. The players really went at, and the fans thoroughly enjoyed it.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: The Browns coaches on both sides of the ball have a real appreciation of just how good Edwards really is. After Edwards made a leaping touchdown catch over cornerback Gerard Lawson, defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson smiled at the receiver and said, “Nice catch.”
NOW IT’S MY TURN: Nose tackle Shaun Rogers crunched Jamal Lewis on Tuesday as soon as the running back got the ball. Lewis got his revenge Wednesday when he knocked down Rogers as he rushed the passer. Rogers got to his feet and playfully wrapped Lewis in a bear hug.
CAMPER OF THE DAY: Outside linebacker Titus Brown, who played four games with the Browns, mostly on special teams, in his rookie season of 2008, worked some with the No. 1 defense. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder hits hard and is active. Mangini said he likes what he’s seen thus far of the Mississippi State product.
UP NEXT: The Browns will practice just once on Thursday, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
QUOTABLE: “If I broke it, charge it to Mangini. He’s got my back.” – A laughing Edwards, trying to show that he and the coach are tight, after the microphone that was attached to the top of his jersey fell off near the end of his press conference.