Like two heavyweights throwing roundhouses in an attempt to score a knockout, Browns quarterback Derek Anderson took his turn on Saturday night in the 27-10 win over the Detroit Lions in the preseason home opener.
Anderson, in an open competition for the starting job with Brady Quinn, started and completed 8-of-13 passes for 130 yards, no touchdowns and an interception that bounced off a receiver’s hands. That pick made his 63.0 passing rating misleading. He was much better than that – and much better than he had been in last Saturday’s 17-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers in which he played little and produced little, going 0-for-2 with an interception.
“I thought things went well,” he said. “I got into a little bit of a rhythm and got a sweat going. I made some good throws and some other ones I would like to have back.”
When it was mentioned to him that he seemed to play with great confidence, he said, “I feel like I’ve been playing that way all through training camp.”
The only negative was that Anderson was a bit off-target all night, even on his completions. His receivers did a good job of getting to the ball and catching it. He missed wide-open wide receiver Braylon Edwards badly down the left sideline.
Quinn, who started against the Packers and looked better than his statistics would seem to indicate in going 7-of-11 for 68 yards and a pick, got bit duty against Detroit and completed 3-of-5 passes for 29 yards.
“I didn’t get as many reps tonight, but you have to do your best with the opportunities you get,” Quinn said.
Halfway through the preseason, Browns head coach Etric Mangini still isn’t ready to tip his hand and name a starter.
“We’ll just keep moving along on it, take a look at things and see where we’re at,” he said.
Where the Browns seem to be at in this QB derby is pretty much of a dead-heat, with one more big event left in next Saturday night’s home contest against the Tennessee Titans in which the starters are expected to play the first three quarters.
A SIGNATURE MOMENT: Running back James Davis may have made the team with his 81-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. The sixth-round draft choice had been the sensation of the first week or so of training camp. But then, because of all the practices one after the other, his legs began to get heavy, plus he ended up getting injured. His progress was stuck in neutral – until that run. Something catastrophic will have to happen to keep him off the roster now. He’s the every-down young backup to Jamal Lewis for whom the Browns have been looking. “That’s the longest run of my career, even pee-wees,” said Davis, who rushed 12 times overall for 116 yards. “I had a 70-yarder in college (at Clemson), but that was it. It’s just preseason, but it’s good to have something like that when you’re trying to make the team. The thing in training camp is that the coaches want you to finish. That’s what I did tonight.” Added Quinn, “James Davis can fly. He’s faster than my car right now.”
INJURY UPDATE: The Browns seemed to come out of the game with no new injuries. Rookie cornerback Coye Francies was helped off late in the game, but seemed fine in the locker room afterward.
JUST VISITING: Tim Couch – yes, that Tim Couch – took in the game as a guest of his friend and former teammate, Aaron Shea, who is now in sales for the Browns. The No. 1 overall pick by the Browns in the 1999 NFL Draft, Couch kept a low profile. His visit wasn’t announced by the team, and he did not come near the press box for fear the media would spot him and corner him for an interview. The last thing he wants to do is rehash those five disappointing, star-crossed and mostly tumultuous seasons he spent in Cleveland.
MORE THAN A GAME: Yes, as Davis said, it was just a preseason game, but for a team that went 0-4 in the preseason last year and lost their last six regular-season contests in 2008, winning meant a lot. There was a real sense of relief. “It feels really good to win our house,” said Joshua Cribbs, who had an 84-yard punt return for a TD and a 95-yard kickoff return for a score to start the game that was nullified by a holding penalty. “We can do it. Last week (a 17-0 loss at Green Bay in the preseason opener) was a bummer, but we came back and worked hard in practice and didn’t miss a beat.”
UP NEXT: The players will be off on Sunday, with the final three days of training camp starting on Monday with a 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. practice.