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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - With Jeff Garcia set to play his first game in a Cleveland Browns uniform, the anticipation of Kellen Winslow's professional debut, and the Tennessee Titans beginning life without former Ohio State star Eddie George, there is more intrigue available in Saturday's preseason game at the Coliseum than the typical exhibition.
Yet with all the marquee names and popular storylines, the night's biggest spotlight could focus on a little-known, second-year offensive lineman from the University of Indiana.
One week after being inserted at the top of the depth chart at left guard, Enoch DeMar believes he has an opportunity to put a stranglehold on a starting job at the position that could be the Browns biggest question mark.
"I really have a chance to lock in at my position," said DeMar. "This is such a great opportunity for me. I taking it very seriously."
DeMar still remembers walking onto the field for his first preseason game as a professional last year.
"My head was spinning," he said. "It was swirling all the way up to the last game."
Like any un-drafted free agent, DeMar arrived in Cleveland with a lot to learn about the pro game. Five months later, thrust into a starting role due to the Browns ever-growing injury list, DeMar realized he still had a lot to learn during the Browns regular-season finale in Cincinnati.
"The Bengals defense threw a look at me and I had been told to do a certain thing when I saw that look," said DeMar. "I saw it, but I didn't process it fast enough. Luckily Joaquin (Gonzalez) was next to me, he made the call and got us to where we needed to be."
DeMar's brain cramp didn't hurt the Browns on that occasion, but he knew future blunders would compromise not only the Browns play on the offensive line, but his ability to continue to make a living in the NFL.
That was one reason DeMar decided to take what he calls "a new, professional approach" to his job. The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Indianapolis native spent the off season in Cleveland, studying film of two of the NFL's best left guards - the Pittsburgh Steelers' Alan Faneca and the Seattle Seahawks' Steve Hutchinson.
He continued to study the Browns playbook and pick the brain of starting center Jeff Faine, building what he hoped would be a symbiotic relationship that could carry over to the field.
When training camp opened at the end of July, DeMar took his professional approach a step further.
"When everybody else might be going out to have a couple of drinks, or some of the veterans decide to leave early because they already know the gameplan and what they are doing, I'm going to have my butt in the meeting room watching film and doing extra study," said DeMar. "I'm just trying to give myself an edge for this year. I want to be the kind of person who will go above and beyond the call of duty."
That attitude didn't go unnoticed. Chad Beasley opened training camp as the No. 1 left guard, but lost the spot to DeMar after just one week.
"I know I have to play well in Tennessee to hold it," said DeMar. "I want to show No. 1 that I can play. The second thing I want to show is that I can be physical, a man among men. But the main thing is knowing my plays, showing that I'm on it, that I can handle it when they show me something I've never seen.
"Last year, I was switching between guard and tackle, so I never knew where I was going to be and who I'd be going against. This year, I've been watching film and scouting the guys I know I'm going to go against. I'm going to be ready."
For a big chunk of the first half, the un-drafted DeMar will be matched up with the 15th overall pick in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft - 6-foot-6, 320-pound defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
You can bet Davis and Browns offensive line coach Larry Zierlein will pay particular attention to the film of DeMar's effort against Haynesworth next week. They would like to decide on DeMar or another option at left guard before the final two games of the preseason. Beasley, veteran Paul Zukauskas, and possibly even rookie Kirk Chambers are also candidates for the starting job..
"You'd like to have most of the position battles somewhat settled after the first two ball games," said Davis. "You'd like to go into the Kansas City game (Aug. 3) and the Chicago game (Sep. 3) with most everything pretty well settled - But if it takes to the Chicago game, it takes to the Chicago game."
Left guard isn't the only position battle to watch Saturday night.
"I know people are making an awful lot out of the issue of (running backs) William Green and Lee Suggs, and the left guard position, and possibly the 'Will' linebacker position with Kevin Bentley and Warrick Holdman," said Davis. "But I think as much as anything else, there is equally as much competition just to make the team. In 2001, it wasn't really all that difficult to make (the final 53-man roster). Each succeeding year it's gotten a little bit tougher and a little bit tougher. I think there is going to be some great position competition to see who makes it as the second team. If you want to talk about how vitally important these preseason games are, it's for those guys to earn a roster spot."