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Davis won#039;t make QB decision until Aug. 23

BEREA

- Tim Couch or Kelly Holcomb? It's a question that has followed Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis around throughout the offseason.

''Do you know that they even asked me that in Alaska?'' said Davis, referring to a recent family vacation.

He will be asked the same question for at least another month.

Davis said he won't choose a starting quarterback going into training camp next week, but will have one picked by the third preseason game at Detroit on Aug. 23.

''I don't think that Tim has done one single thing to lose the job,'' Davis said. ''Kelly Holcomb has surprised and impressed everybody with his opportunities that he got. … He's moved himself into a position of a competitor.''

The quarterback position is getting all the attention, but it's not the only place where serious competition will occur during the preseason.

Davis said that as the team has added talent each season, the level of competition to become a starter, or to simply make the team, has increased.

''One of the things that excites me the most about this training camp … is the legitimate validity to the fact that there's going to be competition,'' he said.

Davis said he anticipates training camp battles on the offensive and defensive lines and in the secondary.

At linebacker, two veterans, three second-year players and a rookie will compete for the starting jobs vacated by the salary cap dump of Earl Holmes and Dwayne Rudd and the retirement of Jamir Miller.

Davis said Andra Davis has the chance to be the team's starting middle linebacker, but otherwise the depth chart is wide open. He said he likes the versatility of the linebacking corps.

''There's going to be more speed. There's going to be less experience,'' Davis said. ''I think we've considerably upgraded the talent of the team.''

Although rookies and selected veterans are to open camp Tuesday, none of the Browns' seven draft picks or rookie free agents have signed with the team.

Davis said every team is in a similar situation, because few draft picks have been signed throughout the league.

''I think every agent is terrified to death that they're going to give their player a bad deal. They want to drag their feet,'' he said. ''We've got contract offers out to everybody.''

NOTES: DE Courtney Brown will have a physical next week to determine whether he's ready to participate in training camp. He had major knee surgery and has been rehabilitating throughout the offseason in Berea. … WRs Kevin Johnson, Quincy Morgan, Dennis Northcutt and Andre Davis are featured on the cover of the Browns' 2003 media guide. … Rookie RB Lee Suggs is lifting weights after recent shoulder surgery, but isn't ready to take hits yet. The Browns drafted Suggs in the fourth round. … Cleveland signed two free agents, OL Ray Redsiniak and WR Marc Soumah, on Thursday.