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Delhomme sidelined

Published 11:28am Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Associated Press

BEREA — As his teammates busily dressed for practice, Jake Delhomme hobbled across the hallway from Cleveland’s training room to the locker room.

Wearing a protective boot on his injured right ankle, Delhomme felt out of place.

“It’s embarrassing,” the quarterback said.

Injured during the first half of his debut with the Browns, Delhomme did not practice on Wednesday and his playing status for Sunday’s home opener against Kansas City will depend on how quickly he recovers from the first ankle injury of his 12-year NFL career.

Delhomme, who got hurt while throwing a costly interception in Sunday’s 17-14 loss at Tampa Bay, underwent an MRI Tuesday. He refused to reveal the results or any specifics other than to say “I have an ankle that’s bothering me, and I’ll just kind of leave it at that.

“I’m a big believer in what’s said in the training room stays in the training room.”

If Delhomme can’t play, the Browns will start Seneca Wallace, a career backup who was expected to take all of the practice snaps with Cleveland’s first unit. Wallace is 5-9 as a starter with 25 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in seven seasons with Seattle.

Delhomme’s injury occurred on the game’s biggest play. With the Browns up 14-3 and driving toward more points, he forced a short, sidearm toss to tight end Benjamin Watson that was picked off by Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber and returned to the Cleveland 3.

The Buccaneers scored a touchdown one play later, trimming the Browns’ lead to 14-10 and stealing all the momentum from Cleveland.

Delhomme refused to blame his injury for the errant throw, which came as he was being pressured.

“It was a poor decision,” he said. “It had nothing to do with me throwing an interception.”

Delhomme’s first miscue — he threw a second interception in the fourth quarter — was similar to many last season for Carolina, which released him after the 35-year-old finished with 18 interceptions. He hoped to resurrect his game with the Browns, but just one week into a new season and new beginning, he’s already hurt and not practicing.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” he said. “I’ve been very lucky throughout my career, injury wise. It’s embarrassing to me. That’s just kind of the way that I look at it. I believe you should be out there with your guys, but I know this is for the best and that’s how we have to take it.”

Delhomme knew his injury was worse than he believed on Monday morning, saying it felt “a little different.” He plans to get treatment all week and hopes to start Sunday, when the Browns host a Chiefs team coming off Monday night’s upset of San Diego.

“I’m always optimistic about anything,” said Delhomme, who finished 20 of 37 for 227 yards and one TD. “We’re going to be aggressive in our treatment. I’m going to listen to what the trainers say and we’re going to follow that protocol and go from there. We’ll see.”

Following his interview, Delhomme quickly left the room for more ice, electrical stimulus and heat. Although he was in a constricting boot, he departed without any noticeable limp, raising the possibility he’ll be on Cleveland’s active roster.

Browns coach Eric Mangini was typically vague in discussing Delhomme’s injury, but he stood by his decision to keep his starter in for the second half. It’s possible the ultra-secretive Mangini will make the Chiefs wait until game time before announcing his starting QB.

Delhomme does not regret staying in on Sunday, and said he would have pulled himself if he thought he was a detriment. There could be some long-term benefits to resting the ankle this week, but Delhomme doesn’t sound as if he wants to sit unless he has to.

“To me, the whole season is the next game,” he said. “That’s how I look at every game.”

None of this is new for Wallace. Waiting has been part of his weekly program since he entered the league as a fourth-round pick in 2003. The Browns traded for him in March, days before signing Delhomme as a free agent, knowing they may need a dependable No. 2 in case of an injury.

A gifted runner, Wallace gives the Browns more options on offense — and more for the Chiefs to think about. He lined up for four plays at wide receiver last week when Joshua Cribbs went in at quarterback in one of Cleveland’s exotic packages.

Wallace doesn’t care which position he plays.

“I’m just happy to be on the field,” he said. “Shoot, if I get opportunity to get a catch or make a throw or whatever it is, it doesn’t bother me. it doesn’t matter about if I’m at quarterback or receiver.”

Mangini doesn’t expect there to be any dropoff if Wallace starts.

“I don’t think we have to lose anything because Seneca has control over the offense,” he said. “There’s not a lot of plays on the call sheet where you look at and say, ’Seneca can’t do this.’ It’s not like that he’s been really good with everything that we’ve asked him to do.”

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