Browns' season-opening opponent waiting to see
By MIKE McLAIN Tribune Chronicle
WARREN - The great quarterback debate that's
taking place in the camp of the Cleveland Browns
has extended far beyond the borders of the team's
practice facility in Berea.
The outcome of the battle between Tim Couch and
Kelly Holcomb is of great interest to the
Indianapolis Colts, who open the regular season
against the Browns on Sept. 7 in Cleveland. The
sooner Colts coach Tony Dungy knows the answer,
the longer he'll have to prepare.
The debate is also important to John Teerlinck,
the Colts' defensive line coach. It's always
easier preparing pass-rush packages when you know
which quarterback will be behind center.
"Those guys aren't as radical as other teams,
where they have two quarterbacks and one's a
righty and one's a lefty. One runs and one
doesn't," said Teerlinck, who was a guest
instructor for the 10th straight year at the Nick
Frankos Manoa-Mims Football Camp this week. "I
think it's going to be a tough decision. They're
both good players. I don't know how (Browns
coach) Butch (Davis) is going to handle it, or
how it's going to work out."
When the Browns concluded the offseason portion
of preparations with a minicamp last week, Davis
indicated both quarterbacks have performed well.
Davis said the job is Couch's to lose, which
means he's the favorite - at this time - to
answer the call against the Colts.
The choice of the fans appears to be Holcomb, who
left a favorable impression when he threw for 429
yards in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh in January.
Couch was at odds at times with fans that have
grown impatient with his development after he was
made the first overall pick in the 1999 draft.
"He (Holcomb) had a great playoff game, and they
had a great offensive performance that day,''
Teerlinck said. "It's like everything. You're
usually as good as your last game.
"We've been watching it (the competition) for
obvious reasons. We don't know. We're not going
to predict. We'll watch it in preseason and see
when they make the call."
Teerlinck, who was the Browns' defensive line
coach for coach Bud Carson in 1989-90, thinks the
Browns are in a good situation by the mere fact
they have two capable quarterbacks.
"Most teams don't have the luxury of having one,"
he said. "If (Brett) Favre had ever gone down ...
if Jim Kelly had ever gone down ... if Dan Marino
had ever gone. There's such a shortage."
Teerlinck believes the Colts' defensive front
will be well-armed to face the opening-day
challenge. Leading the charge will be second-year
end Dwight Freeney, who set a rookie record for
sacks with 11 last season.
Freeney was a surprise high first-round pick in
2002. Skeptics wondered if his short stature
would be a hindrance, but he more than made up
for a lack of ideal height with running back-like
Freeney was one of eight rookies to make the
Colts' roster on defense last year. Teerlinck
believes the young group can only get better.
"I keep hearing about these expansion teams that
are so new. We had more young guys than anybody,"
Teerlinck said. "Now they'll be in the second
year. They should make a bigger contribution than
they did a year ago."
The Browns likely will have a rookie starting at
center. First-round draft choice Jeff Faine
worked with the first three units during the
recent minicamp and is expected to get the call.
"That's a hard position, and it's hard for any
rookie in that league," Teerlinck said. "Our
biggest thing is that they have to block our
The battle of the Xs and Os is about to begin.
*submitted by This Reporter...hehehe