Kelly Holcomb saw his first NFL action since 1997 when he replaced Tim Couch in the fourth quarter of the Browns' 31-15 loss to the Titans on Dec. 2nd. In that game, Holcomb connected on 7-of- 12 passes for 114 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Johnson.
Holcomb signed with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent on March 2, ending a five-year stint with the Colts. In his last three seasons in Indianapolis, Holcomb served as backup to Peyton Manning. Holcomb's only game experience prior to joining the Browns came in 1997 when he appeared in five regular-season games, completing 45-of-73 attempts for 454 yards, one touchdown, and eight interceptions.
Holcomb started his only NFL game Nov. 9, 1997, completing 19-of-32 passes for 236 yards. In that start against the Bengals, Holcomb hit Marvin Harrison for a 6-yard touchdown. The Bengals also intercepted three Holcomb passes in a 28-13 win over the Colts. Holcomb's first NFL appearance came Nov. 2, 1997 when he completed 19-of-30 passes for 181 yards and tossed one interception against the Buccaneers. Holcomb engineered an 11-play, 62-yard touchdown drive against the Bucs, culminating in a 2-point conversion pass to tight end Marcus Pollard.
Kelly is actually Holcomb's middle name. Bryan Kelly Holcomb was born in Fayettville, Tenn. He attended Lincoln County High School, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. In 1994, he was inducted in the Tennessee Scholastic Collegiate Hall of Fame.
Kelly Holcomb isn't lacking in confidence. Despite going more than three full seasons without taking a snap in a regular-season game, Holcomb is convinced he has some exciting days ahead of him as an NFL quarterback.
"All I need is a chance," said Holcomb. "I'm realistic. I know Tim Couch is the quarterback of this team, just like when I was in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning was the quarterback of the Colts. I know my role is to be ready when they need me. it's a tough situation because I want to play. I know I have a lot of ability."
Whenever Holcomb gets frustrated with role as a backup, he thinks about other quarterbacks he worked their way up from holding a clipboard on the sidelines a regular basis to NFL stardom.
"You have to think in ways like that," said Holcomb. "I was even thinking about that the other day. I thought about Rich Gannon and how he barely played when he first came into the league."
Gannon has gone from being a career backup, who didn't even play a down in his third and eighth NFL seasons, to a Pro Bowl quarterback on a Super Bowl contender.
"You always have that type of thing in the back of your mind," said Holcomb. "You always picture yourself doing big things. I think you have to have those dreams to keep yourself going. I picture myself doing big things. Right now, I just have to roll with the punches and take whatever comes my way. When the opportunity finally presents itself, I have to be ready. I've got goals down the road, and I see myself doing some great things in the next couple years."
Holcomb was hand picked as Couch's backup by offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. When Holcomb was with the Colts, Arians was his quarterback coach.
"When I was in Indy, Bruce was my ace in the hole," said Holcomb. "He knew I could play. It's always good to have somebody in your corner like that, but then again, it's still on me to perform. After I signed as a free agent in the off-season, I had to come up here and perform. I think I did a pretty good job. Obviously I did impress some people.
"You can have people and connections who get you places, but there comes a point in time where you have to step up on your own and perform. If you have talent, then you are going to make it. If you don't have talent, you'll fade by the wayside."