All Eyes on Delhomme

All Eyes on Delhomme

Can new Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme turn back the clock to 2007?

All eyes will be on Jake Delhomme now through the end of August to learn whether he can turn back the clock and prove his disastrous 2009 season with the Carolina Panthers was a fluke.

Coach Eric Mangini and team president Mike Holmgren are convinced the Delhomme that threw eight touchdown passes and 18 interceptions last season is not the same guy they are paying $7 million in 2010 to play for the Browns.

Holmgren and Mangini say Delhomme and Seneca Wallace will battle to be the starter, but on Wednesday, the first day OTAs were open to the media, Delhomme got the bulk of the work followed by Wallace and then rookie Colt McCoy and Brett Ratliff.

Delhomme looked in command while calling plays and throwing the ball.

"He's got great energy," Mangini said. "I don't like making comparisons. But I will. He reminds me a little bit of (Brett) Favre in terms of enjoying practice and being around the guys. He's able to be serious and still keep things light. He has good rapport with the offensive guys and defensive guys. You see it in the weight room and all the different areas."

Spring practice is a far cry from what real football is like because players are not in pads and Delhomme wasn't dealing with snarling pass rushers, but his throws were on the money. Three passes in particular stood out; one was a lob in the deep right corner of the end zone to Brian Robiskie. Cornerback Eric Wright had tight coverage on Chansi Stuckey on another play, so Delhomme threw the ball so that Stuckey had to extend his arms. He threw the ball perfectly, where only Stuckey could catch it. He made a similar throw intentionally low to the ground to Robiskie with Sheldon Brown all over the second-year receiver. Robiskie caught the ball for a touchdown.

"When you change to a new team you do get a fresh start," Delhomme said. "To be here is very refreshing. It's like you get new life injected into you.

"It could have been very easy to walk away and go home or go hold a clipboard some other place, but I wanted a chance to compete. That's all I ask."

Delhomme and the Panthers played for the NFC championship after the 2008 season. Delhomme threw five interceptions against Arizona in that championship game. On Wednesday he said he put so much pressure on himself the next season to atone for letting down his team and Panther fans he never got back into the groove.

Delhomme was 4-7 as a starter in 2009 before a hand injury ended his season. Prior to 2009 he was 50-31 as a starter with the Panthers. He was 10-5 as a starter in 2003 when Carolina was in the Super Bowl. He was 11-5 in 2005 and 12-4 in 2008.

Delhomme played only three games in 2007 before an elbow injury ended his season. He had Tommy John surgery to repair it and bounced back to complete 246 of 414 passes for 3,288 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2008.

NOTES, QUOTES

--WR Brian Robiskie, last year's second-round draft pick from Ohio State is looking like a different player from a year ago when he caught only seven passes.

Robiskie has been smooth and comfortable running routes in OTAs. He is catching the ball consistently. Coach Eric Mangini is hopeful Robiskie will make a big jump in his second year.

--LB Matt Roth is one of five restricted free agents sitting out the voluntary OTAs. The others are linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, running back Jerome Harrison, fullback Lawrence Vickers and safety Abe Elam.

Elam and Jackson want multi-year contracts. Roth wants to be traded. General Manager Tom Heckert said Roth will not be dealt.

"It's like that with everybody," Heckert said. "Normally when guys are unhappy with their contacts, the first thing out of their mouth is give me a new deal or trade me. It isn't the first time we've heard that and it won't be the last."

Roth played six games and recorded four sacks for the Browns after being picked up on waivers from the Dolphins late in the season.

Heckert said he is reluctant to give long-term deals to the players holding out because neither he nor team president Mike Holmgren saw them play last season.

--Josh Cribbs was at the Akron Browns Backers banquet Monday night to receive the Player of the Year award from the Cleveland Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.

Before entering the banquet hall the Browns' special teams star and Wildcat quarterback was cornered by reporters covering the Browns. He was a regular at Cavaliers playoff games and was asked about Cavs star LeBron James possibly playing elsewhere next season.

"I watched him every game," Cribbs said. "It won't be the same without him. He's The King here. LeBron James is King being in this city and growing up in Akron.

"If he goes anywhere else he'll just be a phenomenal, extraordinary athlete, but he will not be The King in any other city but Cleveland."

--Scott Fujita, who played the last four seasons with the Saints, knows Browns new quarterback Jake Delhomme as well as anybody.

"I've known Jake for a long time and have nothing but respect for him," Fujita said after an OTA practice. "I think I've played him eight or nine times and lost to him almost every time.

"I like having him on my side. I've played with some great quarterbacks (including Drew Brees in New Orleans), but Jake is a great guy, great in the locker room and a heckuva competitor. He's had some injuries the last couple years, but watching him come back and work the way he has this offseason, he looked sharp. I know he's in great shape because I've been running with him almost every day."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Feels like a rookie. You put in a lot of different terminology, a lot different from the terminology I had in Philadelphia. I'm in the playbook a lot and it's tough. It's tough." -- Cornerback Sheldon Brown, on being traded from the Eagles to the Browns.

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