Holcomb eager to begin competition for starting
Kelly Holcomb is pumped up about the opening of
Browns "quarterback school" on Wednesday.
The first of 14 team practices spread over four
weeks marks the beginning of the
eyeball-to-eyeball competition between Holcomb
and Tim Couch for the Browns' starting job.
"I'm champing at the bit to get out there and see
what happens," Holcomb said. "Ever since I've
been in the league, I've had to compete just to
get a spot on the football team. It's all about
"Coach [Butch] Davis said competition makes
people better. I honestly believe that. I'm not
scared of competition. I'm looking forward to
going out and letting the chips fall where they
may. I'm really excited about it."
One thing is different about this competition.
It's the first time Holcomb is legitimately
competing for a starting job.
"Change is good," he said.
Life has certainly changed for Holcomb since he
stepped in for an injured Couch and threw for 429
yards and three touchdowns in a 36-33 playoff
loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"If I said it wasn't, I'd be lying. It's been
different," Holcomb said. "Everywhere I go,
somebody has an opinion about what's going on.
All the things in the newsprint and on
television, I try not to pay attention, I really
don't. But it's kind of hard when my brother
calls every day, or [wife] Lorie's family calls,
or my mom and dad call. Everybody's heard
"This was all before the draft. I've told my dad
and brother and friends, just read it. Don't
worry about it. Nobody actually knows what's
going on except the people upstairs. I think
players might be the last ones to know about
what's happening. Sometimes my wife tells me
what's in the paper, but most of the time I don't
even know what's going on."
Holcomb said that he and Couch "kind of laughed"
about pre-draft trade rumors involving Couch. He
said their relationship has not been made
uncomfortable by the rampant speculation of who
will win the job.
Davis has been purposely vague in explaining how
he will choose his starter. He has said the
starter may emerge before training camp, or it
can be decided in exhibition season.
"My understanding is that I have to go out there
and do what I've done ever since I've been in the
league - work for a job," Holcomb said. "If they
say we have an equal opportunity to go out and
get the job, I'm just looking forward to that.
"When I came into the league, I had steps to go
through. I just tried to make the football team
when I got here, because I came through the
hardest way. Then when you get that goal, you
have to make another goal. My goal has always
been to be a starter.
"There were a lot of heartaches, a lot of
insecurity, not knowing where I was going to be.
There still is. This is not a very secure
business. I can be talking to you now and have to
go somewhere else.
"Whatever happens, happens. I'm cool with
everything. All you can ask for is an opportunity
to compete. I don't know how many reps I'm going
to get; I don't know how many reps he's going to
get. All I know is when I'm on the football
field, they're looking for me to produce. That's
how you evaluate yourself - did you move the
The 14 "quarterback school" practices will be
followed by three days of full-team minicamp June
10-12. Training camp starts six weeks later.
Holcomb doesn't see how the competition could be
settled before the exhibition games in August.
"I've always thought a guy looks good in 7-on-7
drills, a guy looks good when he does this, but
hey, it's when you get 11-on-11 and it's for
real," he said. "It's what happens when there's
75,000 in the stands and it's on TV and you're
playing another team.
"Coaches watch each and every play, even in
practice, so you have to look at it that way. But
it's who does it on game days."
About that Pittsburgh game:
Most of Holcomb's comments after the Pittsburgh
game in January were tempered by the
disappointment of the meltdown loss. Now, four
months later, Holcomb opened up some when it was
suggested that his performance may be regarded as
"I'm not worried if people think that was a
fluke," he said. "I was prepared for that
football game, and I think that shows when you're
prepared and you know what's going on, you can
make things happen.
"If you're prepared, the game slows down for you.
If you're not, it goes 100 mph and you're not
ready, you're late on throws."
Holcomb said everything slowed down for him in
the Pittsburgh game.
"I guess I was in the proverbial zone," he said.
"I was feeling good about what we were doing,
feeling good about knowing what they were trying
to do. I've always thought that if you're
prepared, they might have something new that you
haven't seen before, but pretty much when the
game gets down to crunch time, they're going to
go back to what got them there. And I was
prepared for that."
He acknowledged that his statistics in that game
were unheard of, but his performance was an
indication of what he thinks he can do at this
stage of his career.
"Now, not every game's going to be like that,"
Holcomb said. "This is a tough league, a
competitive league. You don't ever dream about
throwing for 429 yards. C'mon, that might not
ever be accomplished again."
Only two NFL quarterbacks had more prolific
passing days in the postseason - and both needed
overtime to do it. Bernie Kosar threw for 489 in
two overtimes against the Jets in the 1986
playoffs and Dan Fouts threw for 433 in one
overtime against Miami in 1981.