Browns QB Jake Delhomme will likely start Sunday vs. Carolina, his former team, head coach Eric Mangini indicated Wednesday.
According to reports, Mangini said that rookie QB Colt McCoy, who has started the last five games, suffered a high-ankle sprain Sunday at Jacksonville. McCoy is not practicing Wednesday. Mangini, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, said the Browns' recent experience with such injuries "tempers" his hopes that the promising rookie passer won't be out awhile — Delhomme and backup QB Seneca Wallace have each missed several weeks this year with similar injuries — but he also said he was "optimistic" McCoy would not miss 4-5 weeks with the injury.
Delhomme began the season as the Browns' starter but suffered an ankle injury in Week One at Tampa Bay. He relieved Wallace, who had suffered an ankle injury of his own, in Week Five vs. Atlanta, but Delhomme re-injured his ankle in a Browns loss and has not played since. He has completed 33-of-60 passes for 324 yards with one TD and four interceptions this season.
The way we see it
The Browns transitioned from Delhomme to Wallace, back to Delhomme, then to McCoy relatively smoothly in the first six weeks of the season, and Delhomme's expected return to the lineup comes against a Panthers defense he knows very well. The key for Delhomme is avoiding the costly turnovers that marked his last year in Carolina and have occurred too frequently even in his short stint (six quarters) in Cleveland.
In the short term, the Browns are relatively well-positioned to overcome McCoy's injury; this was to be Delhomme's starting job all along, and he is again healthy. That said, Delhomme is signed through just 2011, and he'll be 36 in January. In an ideal world, the Browns will get to evaluate some more game tape from McCoy, who's nonetheless made a strong case to be the starter going forward when healthy, as they decide how to proceed at the QB position next season, but the timing and nature of the injury is a double whammy for Cleveland.
Delhomme is only a viable option in very big leagues or two-QB formats. The Browns have thrown just eight TD passes in 10 games this season.