BEREA — Charlie Frye knows what it’s like to lead the Browns against the Steelers, and he spent the last seven months working to have the chance again.
He got his wish Monday, as coach Romeo Crennel announced Frye as the starter for the opener Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“Obviously I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve been working hard. The competition’s been going since minicamp, and I think all of us have benefited from it.”
Frye, who started 13 games last year, was forced to fight to keep his job as Crennel made it an open competition with Derek Anderson. After offseason workouts and minicamps, Frye entered training camp slightly behind.
But he outperformed Anderson during the preseason, leading one touchdown drive to Anderson’s zero.
Crennel said the position will be evaluated on a weekly basis.
“It doesn’t do me any good to say a guy’s the starter for the whole year,” Crennel said. “Every position, I’ve told them, is not set in stone. Roles change.”
He also wouldn’t say if Frye’s backup would be rookie Brady Quinn or Anderson. The depth chart is due out today, but Crennel doesn’t need to officially designate the No. 2 quarterback until Sunday morning — and said he’ll wait. It will likely be Anderson, because the Browns are proceeding slowly with Quinn.
Crennel said Frye’s experience playing against Pittsburgh and as a team leader was the deciding factor.
“I think that gives us the best chance to win,” he said.
Frye grew up a Browns fan rooting against the Steelers and dreaming of playing them. Be careful what you wish for.
As a rookie in 2005, Frye was sacked eight times and had a 64.4 rating in a 41-0 Christmas Eve loss. Last year, he went 17-for-27 for 224 yards and an 89.1 rating in a 24-20 loss. He was sacked five times, and the Browns blew a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead.
“I think I’m a lot more poised and my game management is better,” he said. “It comes from experience and being pushed by other guys. You make sacrifices and those sacrifices end up helping your game out.”
While Quinn is the future of the franchise, Frye is getting a final chance to succeed.
“We want to see what he can do with a healthy cast around him, a better cast around him,” general manager Phil Savage said Saturday. “I think the potential’s still there. Charlie does have mobility, and he’s got enough arm strength, got enough accuracy and got enough moxie to make some things happen.”
Frye’s gain is Anderson’s loss. He has the strongest arm on the team and was given the inside track to win the job. But until the final roster cuts were announced Saturday, he was in jeopardy of being waived in favor of veteran mentor Ken Dorsey.
“I was a little bit (nervous),” Anderson said. “There was some uncertainty, nobody really knew what was going to go on. I’m happy to be here.”
Savage said Anderson’s upside made him worth keeping, despite the preseason struggles.
“The hope was he would’ve shown a little bit more consistency once he had a handle on the job, to a degree,” Savage said. “That didn’t happen, and I think that’s somewhat of a testament to Charlie’s perseverance.”
Frye maintained that the competition made him mentally stronger, and Crennel complimented his handling of the situation.
“Charlie doesn’t say a whole lot anyway, so he just went about doing the job he has to do,” Crennel said. “He didn’t complain and just did what I asked him to do.”
Quinn, who started 46 straight games at Notre Dame, said it will be tough standing on the sideline.
“(Anderson) and myself will be ready for a what-if situation,” he said. “My mind-set is to help the team and prepare Charlie and myself.”
Quinn had become close to Dorsey and campaigned for his return.
“It was a sad day for me,” Quinn said. “Ken was a mentor and friend. You couldn’t meet a better guy.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.