Anderson sits in hot seat

Browns' starting QB can prove himself vs. former team

Pro football

September 29, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Reporter

Jamal Lewis won't be the only member of the Cleveland Browns seeking a little redemption against the Ravens tomorrow at Cleveland Stadium.

Derek Anderson will be, too.

But there's more at stake for Anderson than for Lewis. Most in Cleveland believe that the third-year quarterback who was cut by the Ravens after being their sixth-round selection in 2005 is nothing more than a stopgap between former starter Charlie Frye and Brady Quinn, the team's No. 1 draft pick.

Anderson inherited the starting job when the Browns traded Frye to the Seattle Seahawks after the team's disastrous season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The former Raven has received mixed reviews in the starting role.

Named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week for his franchise-record five-touchdown performance in a wild 51-45 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, Anderson threw one touchdown and ran for another but was intercepted twice and fumbled once in a 26-24 road loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

"We feel good about where he is right now," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said on a teleconference this week. "He could have played better last week, and he'll tell you that, but I think the guys believe in him and they know he can make things happen."

Going back to his years at Oregon State, Anderson has been known as a quarterback who can make things happen either for his team or the opposition.

A three-year starter who led the Beavers to three straight bowl games - including throwing four touchdowns in a 2004 Insight Bowl win over Quinn and Notre Dame - Anderson threw 79 touchdown passes and 57 interceptions.

Ravens defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who was a year behind Anderson at Oregon State, said the player he watched on tape this week isn't that much different than the one he remembered from their days in Corvallis.

"He will make mistakes," Edwards said after practice Wednesday. "One thing I learned from playing with him - he was also drafted here - he will try to force some throws. But we won a lot of big games in the Pac-10. He's the kind of guy, if he's hot and gets on a roll, he can make all the throws."

Edwards knows what the Ravens must do, similar to what they did to the Arizona Cardinals' Matt Leinart for three quarters Sunday and what they did two weeks ago against the New York Jets' Kellen Clemens until the fourth quarter.

"If you get some pressure in his face, he can be rattled," Edwards said.

After a sloppy start against the Raiders that included a fumble on Cleveland's first series and two interceptions in the first half that led to a 16-0 deficit, Anderson made his share of big plays in the second half. He hit Braylon Edwards for a 21-yard touchdown and ran one in from a yard away. The Browns lost when the Raiders blocked a 40-yard field-goal attempt by Phil Dawson in the waning seconds.

"I struggled," the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Anderson told reporters after the game. "I've got to get better for us to win. There's no two ways about it."

Anderson threw five straight incomplete passes against the Bengals, then threw those five touchdown passes while completing 20 of his final 28 passes for 328 yards.

Asked whether it is difficult for Anderson to play with Quinn as his backup, Crennel said: "I don't think it's tough for him to do that, because he is the quarterback and all he's got to do is do his job. If he does his job to a high level, then they won't clamor for Brady."

Quinn told The Oregonian newspaper after Sunday's game: "I think you look at it right now that he's the No. 1 guy. He's the guy we have there to win us games. I think he's done a great job."

The Ravens cut Anderson early in the 2005 season, and he was claimed a day later by the Browns. In three starts last season, all defeats, Anderson completed 54 of 96 passes for 622 yards, with three touchdowns and seven interceptions (four against Tampa Bay).

In a 27-17 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore on Dec. 17, Anderson finished 23-for-32 for 223 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"He's a good quarterback, he's got the starting job, they're 1-1 with him," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said of Anderson. "He had an excellent win over Cincinnati, a team that beat us, and a tough loss against Oakland. He played against [us] last year and had a really good game. It's going to be interesting."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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