BEREA — Charlie Frye is officially the Browns’ first-string quarterback, but that doesn’t mean he will start the team’s preseason opener against Kansas City.
Coach Romeo Crennel said he listed Frye at the top of his initial depth chart of the season Monday because he was the club’s starter in 2006, not because he has won the position this year.
“In the NFL, I have to submit a depth chart (in order to avoid a hefty fine),’’ Crennel said. “You guys can read into it what you want. Charlie will be first because that’s the way it was last year.’’
Frye and Derek Anderson remain in a close battle to earn the starting job in the regular season, while Ken Dorsey is a distant third.
None of the three has been impressive in training camp, though, putting Crennel in a tough spot to pick a starter Saturday against the Chiefs at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“It could be a coin flip with Charlie and Derek, but both will play,’’ the coach said. “Generally in camp, somebody will step above the other guy, but it’s not always the case.
“I think the team has confidence in both guys, so we’ll go into the preseason and see if one can elevate a little more. If not, I’ll make the decision.’’
According to Frye, who has 18 NFL starts to Anderson’s three, it doesn’t matter who gets the nod this week. He’s only concerned about being under center when the Browns begin their regular season Sept. 9 at home against Pittsburgh.
“The only thing that matters to me is Pittsburgh in Game 1,’’ Frye said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen Saturday, but I think the guys will rally around whoever Coach chooses.’’
Crennel said his plan is to have Frye and Anderson split the first half against the Chiefs, then give Dorsey most if not all of the final two quarters.
He added that running back Jamal Lewis (ankle) and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. (knee) — both of whom had offseason surgeries — would only play the first period for precautionary reasons.
“I don’t want to make this analogy, but in practice, these bullets are not real,’’ Crennel said. “When you get into games, they become real. That’s when you learn how guys will respond under pressure.’’
Anderson looked shaky again Monday morning, which he readily admitted following practice.
“Today was obviously not my best day out there,’’ he said. “The conditions were a little wet and I had some problems with my footing, but I’m going to keep trying to get better.’’
The fields were damp and slick after taking on a good amount of rain the previous day, but Crennel opted to hold practice outdoors on the extremely muggy and humid morning. The Browns had worked out inside their field house on Sunday.
“The humidity got to them mentally a little bit today,’’ Crennel said. “But we wanted to let them operate without coaches on the field to get some experience. We let the quarterbacks run the offense and the guys run the defense by themselves.’’
Seeing the stars
Running back Jason Wright returned to practice, but offensive lineman Isaac Sowells continues to be limited to light exercise. Both players suffered concussions Wednesday in head-to-head collisions.
“It’s been a little tough, but I was out four weeks last year (with an ankle injury) so I know what it’s like,’’ said Sowells, who sported sunglasses on the field. “I’m still light sensitive, but I’ve been resting and physically I feel better.’’
Sowells said his condition is mild and being treated with Tylenol, giving him hope to play in Cleveland’s second preseason game against Detroit on Aug. 18.
Line them up
With linebackers Willie McGinest (back) and Matt Stewart (shoulder) both sidelined with minor physical problems, Chaun Thompson temporarily shifted back to his former position on the outside.
• Andra Davis and Leon Williams also moved to different LB spots on the weak and strong side, respectively. Crennel said that tandem could join D’Qwell Jackson in a three-man rotation at two positions in the regular season.
Cornerbacks Kenny Wright (groin) and DeMario Minter (ankle) did not practice, while wide receivers Mike Mason (knee) and Tim Carter (hamstring), fullback Lawrence Vickers (hamstring) and linebacker Antwan Peek (hamstring) all returned to action. If Kenny Wright is unable to play against Kansas City, rookie Eric Wright will take his starting spot.
The Browns sent a scout to Canton on Sunday night for the Hall of Fame Game, which was won by Pittsburgh over New Orleans 20-7. Cleveland’s coaching staff was not in attendance at the league’s annual preseason opener, but did watch it live on NFL Network.
Tackle Ryan Tucker and cornerbacks Eric Wright and Brodney Pool voluntarily signed autographs following the morning session.
• The Browns won’t conduct another two-a-day set of practices until Aug. 14. They only have two such doubles left in training camp.
• The team will hold a workout at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Wednesday, but the session is not open to the public.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.