Jake Delhomme to start for Browns

Updated: December 3, 2010, 5:10 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BEREA, Ohio -- Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme, who had an uneven performance in his first start since the season opener, will make his second straight start this week when the Browns visit Miami.

Against his former Carolina teammates, Delhomme completed 24 of 35 passes for 245 yards as the Browns edged the Panthers 24-23. But he threw the two picks -- one was forced and returned for a touchdown -- to continue a disturbing trend. Delhomme has thrown 29 interceptions in his last 15 games.

Coach Eric Mangini chose Delhomme to go against the Dolphins (6-5) because rookie Colt McCoy remains sidelined with a high ankle sprain.

"I don't think I'm the dumbest guy in the world," said Delhomme, who has six interceptions in 2½ games this season. "I know what the future is with the Browns. I think a lot of us have seen it. I came here as a 35-year-old knowing I probably won't be here for 10 years. I've enjoyed every minute I've been here."

On Friday, McCoy spoke for the first time since injuring his left ankle on Nov. 21 against Jacksonville. As reporters approached, McCoy playfully kicked his plastic walking boot -- with his right foot. The injury has frustrated McCoy, who was a bit of an ironman before having to sit out a preseason practice with a thumb injury.

"I've just been in the tank because I never missed a practice, never missed a game. I kind of pride myself on that a little bit," he said. "It's part of it. My dad was a coach. You just don't miss unless something's broke."

McCoy said his ankle is "coming along" and responding well to treatment. Team doctors will re-evaluate it after the weekend. When he's healthy, the Browns have a decision to make: Stick with Delhomme or go back to McCoy, who went 2-3 in five starts?

"I'm not even going to go there," McCoy said. "My focus is to get my foot right. When we get my foot right, then we'll go from there, and figure it out at that point. It all relies on what the doctors tell me. When I can go, I'm going. It's just a bummer. I just have to go out there and make sure it feels OK."

Delhomme had some nice moments last week, his first action since coming off the bench on Oct. 10. He ran the no-huddle, spread the ball around to Cleveland' wide receivers better than any of the Browns three quarterbacks this season and built a 21-7 lead in the first half. He then overcame the two interceptions by going 5-for-5 on Cleveland's last drive to set up Phil Dawson's game-winning field goal.

Browns fans, though, nitpicked on the picks. His first came on his first pass of the third quarter as Panthers linebacker Jon Beason anticipated the throw and made a leaping catch. The second one, which came on Delhomme's next attempt, fluttered in the air long enough for Captain Munnerlyn to take it back and pull the Panthers within 21-20.

"When I let it go, I was like, 'Oh, gosh, that's not a good one,'" Delhomme said. "I apologized to [Mangini] after the game. We would not have been in that situation, shouldn't have been, if I hadn't forced it a little too much."

Delhomme beat himself up over the miscues for two days. On Friday, though, he was asked if too much is made of interceptions.

"As a quarterback, I think it would be easy for me to say, 'Oh, absolutely,'" Delhomme said with a smile. "But they are what they are. It's a critical mistake. But on the flip side of it, to me, if you're Charlie Checkdown, yeah, your stats are going to look great at the end of the game."

Mangini can live with rookie mistakes. But Delhomme has been around 15 seasons.

"We have to avoid those things," Mangini said. "Sometimes the best throws are the ones that go into the stands."

That's just not Delhomme's style, never has been. But if he wants to stay on the field, and make the most of whatever's left in his career, he needs to stop throwing to the other guys.

"You want to limit the self-inflicted wounds as much as possible, and try to play smart football," Delhomme said. "But then again, if the play's there, you go at it."

Mangini is optimistic Josh Cribbs will play on Sunday, despite four dislocated toes.

Nose tackle Shaun Rogers was given Friday off to rest a sore ankle, but the plan is to play him Sunday. Linebacker Eric Barton (shoulder), defensive end Kenyon Coleman (knee), guard Floyd Womack (knee), running back Lawrence Vickers (calf) and safety T.J. Ward (thigh) missed some practice time this week but are expected to play. Halfback Peyton Hillis didn't practice Friday because of personal reasons but will play.

Information from ESPN.com's John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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