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Fitzpatrick unprepared in first start

Ryan Fitzpatrick had only one practice to run the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense before making his first start in three years. It quickly showed.

The quarterback from Harvard threw three interceptions and fumbled during a 20-12 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, looking very much out of practice. Things got better in the second half, when he threw a touchdown pass that kept it close.

There was an explanation: Carson Palmer takes virtually all the snaps with the starting offense during practice, leaving Fitzpatrick with little chance to get a feel for the plays. Palmer’s sore passing elbow, which wasn’t revealed until late in the week, left Fitzpatrick in a tough spot.

He faced the Browns trying to run some plays for the first time.

‘‘There were a few plays I hadn’t run during the week,’’ Fitzpatrick said. ‘‘But for the most part with that Friday practice, I got a lot of the plays that I was comfortable with. We called a lot of those, especially in the second half.’’

He expects to be much better prepared if he has to start again on Sunday in Dallas, giving the Bengals (0-4) a better chance on offense. Palmer expects to play, but would sit out again if his sore elbow hasn’t healed. A decision won’t be made until late in the week.