Browns#8217; QB uncertainty

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2008

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — As soon as the Cleveland Browns opened the door to the locker room for reporters following the game, quarterback Derek Anderson slipped out a side entrance.

He didn’t talk, and it remains unclear if Cleveland’s injured starter will play in the season opener.

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If he can’t, Brady Quinn will have to handle the job. On Thursday night, he looked ready.

Quinn was sharp in leading the banged-up Browns on two early scoring drives as Cleveland concluded the exhibition season with a 16-10 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Quinn finished 7-of-9 for 65 yards in his two series. The second-year quarterback, who would win a popularity contest over Anderson by a landslide, completed mostly short passes and seemed to make all the right reads while leading the Browns (0-4) to a field goal and touchdown in the first quarter.

‘‘I felt pretty good,’’ Quinn said. ‘‘There are a few things I’d like to change. We got into a rhythm and I didn’t want to come out of the game.’’

It was Quinn’s second straight start in place of Anderson, who has been out since sustaining a concussion 10 days ago against the New York Giants. The Browns have been extremely cautious with their Pro Bowl quarterback, who has yet to practice since he was sacked by Osi Umenyiora.

Browns coach Romeo Crennel expects Anderson, who was on the sideline in street clothes for the preseason finale, to be back Monday as the team continues getting ready for its Sept. 7 opener against Dallas. Quinn, too, thinks Anderson and some of Cleveland’s other injured stars will be ready for the Cowboys now that the games count.

‘‘Hopefully in these next few days we can heal up,’’ Quinn said. ‘‘Everyone knows we’re pretty banged up. It will be nice to get some rest and get all our guys back and be 100 percent for Dallas.’’

Kyle Orton, recently picked by Bears coach Lovie Smith to start the season at quarterback over Rex Grossman, went 4-of-7 for 51 yards with one interception in two possessions as the Bears (1-3) avoided their first winless preseason since 1998.

Grossman was 5-of-7 for 59 yards and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Rideau in the second quarter.

Robbie Gould kicked field goals of 48, 29 and 46 yards as Chicago overcame a 10-0 deficit.

The Browns had their first winless preseason since 1972, when they went 0-6. Cleveland, though, made the playoffs that season.

The Bears, who open the regular season against Indianapolis, rested four starters as defensive tackle Tommie Harris, safety Mike Brown, guard Terrence Metcalf and tight end Desmond Clark all got the night off.

Smith is counting on his defense to make up for Chicago’s offensive deficiencies, but Brian Urlacher and the first-team defense allowed Quinn and the Browns to move the ball with ease.

‘‘I’m disappointed,’’ Smith said. ‘‘The plan was to get a couple of three-and-outs and then take the players out, but it didn’t turn out that way. We didn’t play well. Believe me, if we could put our finger on it we would have done something about it before now. We’ve got a little bit more time to get it right.

‘‘We haven’t played well. That is all you can say about it. We have not made all the effort we need to play well. All the things that go into playing well, we haven’t done. Once we get all our guys going, I feel we will have a very strong defense.’’

Quinn was critical of his 14-of-24 performance in a loss at Detroit last week. But against Chicago’s No. 1 defense he showed a nice touch on screens and underneath routes. He also rifled two slants to wide receiver Travis Wilson and lofted a 17-yarder over the middle to Steve Sanders for his longest completion.

The former Notre Dame star had one pass knocked down at the line, and his only major mistake was throwing behind a wide-open Kellen Winslow in the back of the end zone on Cleveland’s first drive.

‘‘We made some mistakes here and there,’’ Quinn said. ‘‘We would have liked to have a touchdown on that first one, which was a little upsetting.’’

Anderson wasn’t the only big-name Browns player to sit. Running back Jamal Lewis (hamstring), wide receiver Braylon Edwards (foot), kick returner Josh Cribbs (ankle) and linebacker Willie McGinest (groin) were all kept out along with starting safeties Sean Jones (knee) and Brodney Pool (concussion).

Crennel was hoping to avoid any more injuries, but the Browns lost wide receiver Syndric Steptoe to a shoulder injury on the opening kickoff and right guard Rex Hadnot went out with a knee injury in the first quarter. Both losses could be significant as Steptoe is handling kickoff and punt return duties while Cribbs is out, and Hadnot is filling in while Ryan Tucker recovers from hip surgery.

The Bears lost backup guard Chester Adams on the final play of the first half — Gould’s 48-yard kick — with a knee injury.

Phil Dawson’s 26-yard field goal gave Cleveland a 3-0 lead and Jerome Harrison scored from the 1 on a fourth-down pitch from Quinn to make it 10-0.