Quinn again waiting his turn with Browns
BEREA, Ohio – Brady Quinn was urged to “Play Like A Champion” at Notre Dame. These days, all he can do is practice like one.
While his fabled alma mater anguishes through its worst start in its 119-year history of football, Quinn, the former Golden Dome quarterback, is doing all he can to stay sharp as a backup for the Cleveland Browns.
It hasn’t been easy. No. 10 isn’t accustomed to being No. 2 — in anything.
For the first time since early in his freshman year under the imposing shadow of Touchdown Jesus and a long line of Heisman Trophy winners, Quinn is not starting or playing. And while he’s destined to be the Browns’ quarterback of the future, presently he’s serving as Derek Anderson’s backup.
“It’s difficult at times as a competitor,” Quinn said Thursday while tying his cleats before practice.
Quinn’s on hold. The Browns (1-2), who host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, want to bring their first-round draft pick along slowly. Their plan is to keep him on the sideline as long as possible so he can learn before having to face NFL defenses.
However, the 22-year-old is just an injury to Anderson away from being thrown to the Ravens, Patriots, Dolphins or Rams.
Quinn says he’s prepared to step in if needed.
“You have to be ready as the backup quarterback,” he said. “You stay after practice to get extra reps and extra throws and go through the script again a second time so you make sure you’re going through the physical motion of it, and not just the mental, before and during practice.”
Quinn has been spending extra time in the film room breaking down tape of upcoming opponents. And because he doesn’t get the same number of snaps in practice as Anderson, he’s staying on the field after workouts to get in more throws.
“You have to prepare like you would if you were the starter,” he said. “You obviously aren’t getting the same amount of physical reps, so you have to make up for the throws after practice. That’s something you have to make sure you do.”
While Anderson, who took over for Charlie Frye in the opener, works with the starters during practice, Quinn, whose development was slowed by an 11-day holdout during training camp, stands off to the side.
As Anderson approaches the line, Quinn, too, scans the field looking for any possible blitzers. As Anderson drops back to pass, so does Quinn. And as Anderson tosses a pass, Quinn pretends he’s throwing one.
“I just try to find a spot where I do my own little walkthrough,” he said, “a little short abbreviated version of the drop, the handoff, going through my progression, what I’m seeing right behind the play. That’s helped me a lot and it did help me a lot when I was in this position at Notre Dame.”
And on the topic of the Fighting Irish, Quinn, like Notre Dame backers worldwide, is hurting. He’s been in contact with a few of his former teammates and coaches, who take an 0-4 record into this week’s game against Purdue.
“I don’t think any of them could have imagined it dropping to these depths,” Quinn said. “It’s tough. I don’t think they foresaw the season going the way it is now. But I know they are hard at work and they’re trying to get things back.”
Notre Dame’s fall from grace has led some to have a greater appreciation for Quinn, who led the Irish to 29 victories and three bowl appearances during four seasons.
Quinn, though, tried to pass around the compliment.
“It wasn’t just me,” he said. “We had a lot of other guys who gave us a lot of support out there and helped us out. There’s a lot of positions being filled in for now that maybe aren’t where they were last year or the last couple of years.”
Like Quinn, all the Irish can do is keep practicing.