Competition at Hand

After his performance in the last two games, Derek Anderson has shown the ability to compete for the starting job in 2007. The Browns are looking closely at the situation, and may choose to increase the number of competitors before next season gets underway...

Were it not for a wrist injury that sidelined Charlie Frye at halftime of a 31-28 overtime victory over the Chiefs, the Browns might never have taken a look at Derek Anderson this season.

Anderson played well in Pittsburgh Dec. 7, contrary to what the Steelers' 27-7 romping indicates. With three games to play, starting Sunday in Baltimore, Anderson has at least put himself in position to challenge Frye in training camp next year.

Anderson has completed 33 of 58 passes for 447 yards in his brief time. He has thrown three touchdown passes and two interceptions. His passer rating of 84.5 should be higher; writers covering the Steelers game charged Browns receivers with seven dropped passes. Coach Romeo Crennel tallied 'nine or 10' drops.

"He's done enough to make it intriguing," Crennel said. "Going down the road, we're going to have to evaluate it and see what we're going to do. Charlie's situation is going to impact that some and Derek's performance from here out will impact that some.

"I think competition brings out the best in everybody. The more competition you have on a football team, the better your team is because the player knows the guy behind him is as good or might take his spot. Everyone works harder when you have competition."

Anderson has been sacked only once in six quarters. That would project to 11 sacks over a 16-game season. Frye has been sacked 43 times in 11 1/2 games. That projects to 54 sacks.

One reason the sack totals differ so greatly is Anderson passes the ball sooner than Frye would -- not just harder but sooner. Braylon Edwards said the difference could account for some of the dropped passes the Browns receivers were guilty of in Pittsburgh.

"I worked with Charlie for two years," Edwards said. "The first pass Derek threw me (Thursday), the curl route, it came hot. I wasn't expecting it that fast.

"When I got to the sideline, I was happy. I said, 'Okay, that's how it should be. Bam, I catch it. Give me some room to work.' I told myself, 'Hey, you have to get your head around faster.' After that I caught everything else. I was alert to how he was going to throw the ball."

A veteran quarterback could still be in the mix next summer. The risk exists that Anderson shows just enough to make the Browns content that either he or Frye could start next year, only to have the winner struggle as Frye has this season.

Crennel said it is too soon to name the starting quarterback for the game in Baltimore. He said he wants to see how Frye mends, but he did not say Frye would start if healthy.

With three games to play -- at Baltimore, home to Tampa Bay and at Houston -- Crennel has to decide whether he should use the time to evaluate Anderson further or give the job back to Frye. At this point it would be speculation to assume Crennel thinks the offense would be better in Frye's hands.


PLAYER NOTES

G Joe Andruzzi left the game against the Steelers with a knee injury and did not return. His status for the game in Baltimore Sunday is uncertain.

A staph infection that plagued FS Brian Russell in training camp might have returned. Russell's elbow swelled hours before the Browns played the Steelers, forcing him to miss the game.

QB Charlie Frye is taking snaps and throwing a football, but his bruised right wrist prevented him from playing against the Steelers.

WR Joe Jurevicius caught seven passes against the Steelers. He had 18 receptions after 11 games and now has 31.

TE Kellen Winslow Jr., with five catches in the last two games, needs 29 over the last four to reach 100 receptions.


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