Competition Beginning to Wear on Couch, Holcomb

The Great QB Competition of 2003 is already starting to wear down the two key participants: Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb. Dave Carducci reports first from Berea on comments made by both players, and ex-Brown Mark Campbell, as they continue to fight for the starting job.

BEREA - Just one week into their training-camp battle, and already Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb are getting sick and tired of the Cleveland Browns' quarterback controversy.

The competition for the starting job is wearing on both players, but for two very different reasons.

"I want to get this whole thing over with," said Couch. "I just want to know whether I'm going to be the guy or I'm not. I want to get this thing going so that we can start focusing on what is real important. That is focusing on the other teams you are going to be playing instead of worrying about your position. Let's get it on and let's move on."

As the incumbent starter and a former No. 1 pick, Couch is used to being in the spotlight. Holcomb, however, is having a hard time adjusting to going form the obscurity that goes with being a backup to the never-ending stream of questions from the fans and media ever since the starting job became an open competition.

"It is getting kind of monotonous," said Holcomb. "We both knew coming in that it was going to be this way. It does get kind of old."

And it may continue to be old for quite a while. Browns coach Butch Davis has said that a decision could be made at any time, but it could be up in the air until the third preseason game Aug. 23 at Detroit.

"You definitely want to know your role on the team," said Couch. "Kelly and I have both talked. We can't wait for this whole thing to be over, where one guy is in and one guy is backing up, just so we know our roles on the football team. It is going to be a long couple, three weeks before (Davis) makes the decision. We are just going to try to stay patient."

While the players patiently await a decision, the team insists the controversy is not a distraction.

According to one of Couch and Holcomb?s former teammates, having the starting quarterback job in limbo is inherently distracting.

"It has been going on for a long time," said former Browns tight end Mark Campbell, who was in town Friday as a member of the Buffalo Bills. "You would hope they would just get it over with for the sake of the team. It is going to help the guys. It is a good thing to have two quality quarterbacks, but at the same time it helps to build the chemistry with just one.

"I remember last year, I was friends with both of them, so it is kind of hard. You don't want to pick sides because you have those friendships. The whole time you are tight lipped, dealing with it like everyone else is ... In Buffalo, we have a guy in Drew (Bledsoe). It makes it real easy. He is the man. There are no ifs ands or buts. You know he knows the offense inside and out. He takes all the reps with the (first team). I've already built a chemistry with him and it is easy because we know he is the man."

Couch admits to worrying about losing some of the chemistry he has built up with the starters while splitting time working with the first and second teams in practice, and potentially coming off the bench in the preseason.

"You want to be the one guy to be in there," said Couch. "Quarterback is such a touchy position because it is such a leadership role ... You have to be in there working with the guys every day to get timing down. It is tough to switch guys in (the quarterback) role. It's not like a receiver position where you can have a couple guys come in and play the same position. It is a role where you have to have a guy who will be in there and be the guy to lead you all the way to where you want to go. You have to make a decision and stick with it."

So far, Couch's performance appears to be slightly ahead of Holcomb's. But if Holcomb were to win the job, Couch guarantees he will find a way to adjust to a backup role.

"I spent just my first game in the NFL as a backup, so I never have been in that role," said Couch. "It would be something that would be tough to get used to. You do what you have to do, and if dcoach thinks that is the best decision for this football team to win, then I will support it and try to be the best backup I can be."

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