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Starting QB unclear as Browns wind down hopeless season

| Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006

BEREA, Ohio - The Browns are losing players to injury, taking a look at their rookies and trying to find motivation as the season winds down.

It's just another December in Cleveland.

Coach Romeo Crennel doesn't know who the starting quarterback will be Sunday when the Browns face Baltimore and get their last chance to avoid going winless in their division. Crennel also has decisions to make at several other positions and could be looking to rookies at linebacker, guard and wide receiver to fill in for injured or underperforming players.

Charlie Frye was listed as questionable Wednesday with a bruised right wrist that's been in a splint. Crennel will likely keep the Ravens guessing with Frye's status unclear.

"We'll go out there and see if he can take a snap and throw the football," Crennel said. "Then we'll make a determination from there."

If Derek Anderson gets a second start Sunday, it will give him the chance to beat the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2005 but waived him several months later. The Browns quickly claimed him.

"He's smart and we really would have liked to have kept him," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We got to the point where we had to make some decisions. We were hoping to get him to the practice squad, but as typical, that tends to get raided."

Anderson was happy to land on the Browns' active roster and said he doesn't hold a grudge against Baltimore.

"I saw the business side of this game early in my career. That's the way it works," Anderson said.

The Browns put out a lengthy injury list Wednesday that includes linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (toe) and guard Joe Andruzzi (knee) listed as doubtful.

If Jackson can't play, another rookie, Leon Williams has the edge to start over Chaun Thompson at inside linebacker, Crennel said.

Andruzzi could be replaced by rookies Rob Smith or Isaac Sowells, with Smith holding the advantage because he can play guard or center, Crennel said.

Rookie wide receiver Travis Wilson also could see his first action of the season because Dennis Northcutt dropped so many passes against Pittsburgh last week. Wilson, who reported a week late to training camp, is eager to show why the Browns made him their third-round draft pick.

"It's been frustrating, but it's a learning process, so it's making me better," Wilson said.

Rookies looking to prove themselves generally have plenty of motivation. If the rest of the Browns (4-9) need a cause to rally behind, they might find it in finally beating an AFC North team.

With a loss to the Ravens, the Browns would go winless inside their division for the first time since joining the NFL in 1950.

"No, that doesn't give me extra pressure. The pressure of trying to win the next game is enough," Crennel said. "No one wants to be the first of anything that's negative."

The Browns came close to beating Baltimore on Sept. 24, blowing a 14-3 halftime lead and led Pittsburgh in the fourth quarter on Nov. 19 before succumbing.

"I don't think we've played well enough within the division. There were two games we could have won in the division here at home," said Crennel, sounding downcast. "We've played well at times, but we haven't played well enough. We have to take that next step to play well enough, particularly in the fourth quarter to win those games."

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