Adkins: Early Returns on the QB Battle

As promised by their head coach, Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson are pitched in a battle for the Cleveland Browns starting QB job. How does Lane Adkins see the contest going so far?

A QB competition is what head coach Eric Mangini promised for training camp and the competitors have taken the head coach at his word.

The Browns QB's were once again in the spotlight on Sunday, as they will be on most days during Mangini's first training camp.

The battle has already gone back-and-forth during the first three practice sessions . Each has made mistakes, both have also displayed the ability to move the team in camp drills. At this early stage, however, we might be starting to see some trends develop.

Anderson and Quinn have largely faced the same player groups and have run the same plays with differing results. Onlookers are growing accustomed to watching Quinn check-down quickly and get the ball out of the pocket. With Anderson, we continue to see the QB look down-field first, but his early tosses in the short-to-intermediate passing game have been intriguing.

Beyond their basic tendencies, the QBs blew hot and cold throughout the weekend.

On Saturday, for example, Anderson struggled and failed to look off defenders at times, while being intercepted when he locked in.

Sunday was a new day with some different results.

Anderson came out of the gate quickly and was consistent throughout the two-hour practice. He was hitting receivers in stride and displaying many of the uncanny characteristics he showed in his impressive 2007 campaign. Throughout the practice session, Anderson bordered on outstanding… the Derek Anderson who was on the field on Sunday can mercilessly tease a coaching staff with his potential.

Late in Sunday's session, Anderson found WR Josh Cribbs in the end-zone for a touchdown. The play caused defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to spike his hat into the soft green Berea grass. Following the play, while Anderson received congratulatory smacks from teammates and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Ryan was lecturing his defense for yet another breakdown. During 7-in-7 drills, Anderson threw three TD passes (James Davis, Aaron Walker and Robert Royal).

Many may assume that the impressive showing on Sunday will ultimately fade from memory, as Anderson is likely to be on the bench or with another team come the start of the season. Coming into training camp, it was Brady Quinn who seemed destined to get a chance to lead the Browns.

But something about Anderson has changed.

Anderson doesn't look like a quarterback doomed to play second fiddle. He is not looking reserved and down, his body language speaks -- the bounce in his step has returned, as has the fire to lead this team.

On separate occasions during the session on Sunday, Anderson barked out commands and at times reflected his disappointment toward offensive linemen when they missed assignments or were perhaps not focused.

Another trait worth noting was when Mangini forced the entire offense to run a lap. Following a poor sequence of play, coming from a combination of the second and third team players, it was Anderson leading the entire offensive unit in running the lap.

This action displaying leadership did not go unnoticed. Those on the practice field and especially the head coach watched as Anderson led by example.

Anderson looked the part of the field general on Sunday, a key item to note for a QB who has often been perceived to be too laid back.

As for Quinn, the assumed front-runner, his day was much like it had been the day before. Early on, Quinn was inconsistent, sometimes inaccurate and struggling to complete passes down-field. On multiple occasions, Quinn under-threw WR Lance Leggett and Paul Hubbard down the left sideline.

Later in the session, Quinn started hitting his stride as the team started the live 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, as has become somewhat the pattern for this signal-caller.

It's in these scrimmages, not the individual drills, where Quinn shines. Today, the third-year QB would not be denied the end-zone, as he tossed two beautifully placed TD passes to Josh Cribbs.

As training camp continues, an interesting theme may be how each of the QB's relate to their respective teammates in drills. Anderson stands in the pocket and surveys the field, Quinn processes the field in a much quicker manner… so quick that he may not be permitting the play to develop.

With two days in the books, Anderson has come out swinging and, if he continues, the decision making process for Mangini and the Browns coaching staff may be pushed into an area nobody actually expected.

Now we head to Day Three. Expect the rollercoaster to take some rapid, and perhaps unexpected, turns before the ride pulls up to a full stop.

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