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Quinn and Anderson still in dogfight for starting job

Three weeks into training camp and through two exhibition games, Eric Mangini isn’t ready to end Cleveland’s neck-and-neck quarterback derby.

The first-year Browns coach conceded yesterday that the competition between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson remains as tight as when it began.

‘It’s very close,’ Mangini said.

Mangini said he’s confident a clear winner will emerge in the next two weeks, but if one doesn’t, he will decide on his starter for the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings based on information gathered over the past few months.

‘If it’s close (at the end), then I’ll make the decision and that will be the decision based on what I feel gives us the best chance to win,’ he said. ‘Everybody will have a different opinion. But that’s what makes it so great, so much interest in the game, so much excitement.’

Anderson started Saturday’s 27-10 win over Detroit. He led the Browns to their first offensive touchdown in seven games and finished 8 for 13 for 130 yards with one interception – on a ball that deflected off rookie running back James Davis’ hands in the final minute of the first half.

Quinn, who started the exhibition opener in Green Bay, played just two-plus drives against the Lions. He finished 3 for 5 for 29 yards in an outing that was undermined by penalties and protection breakdowns.

Mangini was careful not to praise one quarterback more than the other. Asked about Anderson’s performance, Mangini said ‘we’ instead of ‘he’ when talking about the former Pro Bowler’s passes, his ability to recognize defenses and twice using his cadence to draw the Lions offsides.

‘Those things to me were real progress,’ he said.

Mangini would not divulge the plans for his quarterbacks for Saturday’s exhibition game against Tennessee. The third preseason game is generally regarded as a dress rehearsal for the season opener. It’s Quinn’s turn to start, but Mangini is not saying if he will.

Last week, the Browns did not announce that Anderson would start against the Lions until an hour before kickoff.

While Quinn may be a fan favorite, Mangini insists he has not been pressured to make the former first-round pick – the Browns traded their first-round pick this season to take him two years ago – as his choice.

Quinn, who has made three career starts, needs to play in 70 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps this season to trigger a $5 million contract escalator.

Mangini said money will have no bearing on his choice.

‘Not one bit,’ he said, shaking his head.

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