Dilfer aims to lend steady hand at QB

Cleveland Browns

Replenishing the Division Rivals

September 08, 2005|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Trent Dilfer's assignment in Cleveland is to fill a six-year leadership void at quarterback and point the Browns in the general direction of .500 football.

Leadership is no problem for Dilfer, who quarterbacked the Ravens in their Super Bowl season. But getting Cleveland to be competitive is a more thorny issue.

That's because the Browns have lost 66 games in six seasons since returning to the NFL, bungled several first-round draft picks and failed to find a franchise quarterback from among Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb and Jeff Garcia.

Now comes Dilfer, 33, the fourth opening-day quarterback in as many years for the rebuilding Browns.

"I think he's a great leader," said guard Joe Andruzzi, who joined the team this year. "He's a proven winner in this league and a guy that knows what needs to be done."

Said Dilfer: "Ultimately, people respect me because I live my life with a great deal of integrity and I work hard and I try not to tell people what to do in their lives. I just try to lead by example and give everything I have and get better and get my team better. When you do those things, people follow you."

The Browns need a productive Dilfer to help protect a vulnerable defense. With rookie Charlie Frye and veteran Doug Johnson (11 career starts) behind him, they also need a healthy Dilfer, who has a regular-season record of 53-43 as a starter in 11 years.

"If we can keep him protected and keep him healthy, then I think we'll have a competitive situation," general manager Phil Savage said. "That's one of our biggest concerns, that if injuries occur to our line and then in turn it gets our quarterback hurt early in the season."

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