Sources: Frye to start at QB for Browns vs. Steelers

Updated: August 31, 2007, 6:25 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

There has been no official announcement -- and there may not be -- from coach Romeo Crennel, but all indications are that quarterback Charlie Frye has retained the Cleveland Browns' starting job for the outset of the season and will open against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 9.

Two sources told ESPN.com that Frye has held off the challenge of the other quarterbacks on the roster, and published reports on Friday cited Cleveland players as having been told by Crennel following the Thursday night preseason finale that the third-year veteran will start.

Crennel had earlier said that he might not reveal the identity of the starter prior to the game against Pittsburgh, in part to keep Steelers coaches guessing.

Frye, 26, engineered only two scoring drives in the 11 offensive possessions that he worked in the preseason. But fellow third-year veteran Derek Anderson, who started the final three games of the 2006 season and who many felt entered training camp as the favorite to win the No. 1 job, did not mount a consistent challenge.

Rookie Brady Quinn out of Notre Dame, the second of the Browns' two first-round picks in the April draft, posted solid numbers and led Cleveland to four touchdowns in 11 possessions. But much of Quinn's success came against second- and third-team defenders and Browns officials prefer not to have the rookie open the season as the starter.

It will be interesting to see how Cleveland officials handle Anderson. There is some feeling he will be released when the Browns reduce their roster to the mandatory league limit of 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Crennel said this week, though, that he and his staff have discussed the possibility of retaining four quarterbacks. That group would include veteran journeyman Ken Dorsey.

If Frye does start the opener, it would halt a streak of five straight seasons in which the Browns had a different starting quarterback in their first game.

In four preseason games, Frye completed 24-of-37 passes for 251 yards with no touchdown passes and one interception, for a passer efficiency rating of 73.1. Quinn had the highest passer rating on the team in preseason, with a mark of 96.5. He could start the season No. 2 on the depth chart and eventually vie for the starting job if Frye falters.

Some observers feel that, if Frye does not play well, Quinn could be groomed to take over when the Browns have their bye week after the first six games.

A third-round choice in the 2005 draft, Frye has started 18 games in his first two seasons, including 13 contests in 2006. He suffered a wrist injury in late December and was replaced in the lineup by Anderson for the final three games of the year.

In Frye's career, the former Akron star has completed 350-of-557 passes for 3,456 yards, with 14 touchdown passes, 22 interceptions and a 72.2 passer rating.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.