Reversal of fortune: Edwards, Quinn roles didn't figure

Steve Doerschuk

Brady Quinn is still “one play away.”

Except now the rookie is “one play away” from being on center stage in a postseason drive.

“Everything’s just turned up an extra notch,” Quinn said before Thursday’s practice for a showdown against the Bills. “Obviously, things are gonna be more intense.”

In April, Quinn seemed headed for some on-field intensity. Mel Kiper said the top three quarterbacks in the draft were Jamarcus Russell, Quinn and Trent Edwards, in that order.

December has written an ironic postscript.

In college, Quinn and Notre Dame dominated Edwards and Stanford.

On Thursday, Quinn pretended to be Edwards in practice. He quarterbacked the “show team” against the Browns’ No. 1 defense.

Edwards practiced as himself Thursday. He is 5-1 as Buffalo’s starter.

For this to happen, former waiver-wire pick-up Derek Anderson had to be more than the Browns bargained for. Former Round 1 pick J.P. Losman had to be less than the Bills envisioned.

Of Edwards, Quinn said: “We played against each other throughout college. He didn’t finish too many games ... through injury. ... I don’t know if he got benched one year or a couple years.

“They mixed in a couple kids. I know their system helped him prepare for the NFL. He’s gonna be a smart guy, going to Stanford.”

In Edwards’ first college encounter with Quinn, in 2003, Stanford got drilled, 57-7. In the most recent one, in October 2006, Quinn went 27-of-37 for 232 yards and three TDs in a 31-10 Notre Dame win. Edwards got sacked five times and went 7-of-13 for 68 yards as Stanford fell to 0-6.

Who dreamed they’d be where they are 14 months later?

Quinn has played it smart, keeping his mouth shut about not playing a single down.

Buffalo’s situation is a reminder of what could happen for him. Both Edwards and Losman have been hurt this year, having to replace each other.

Quinn seems to take the “one play away” theme seriously.

If he does play, his inactivity even could help.

“That’s the nice thing,” he said. “It’s not like they would necessarily try to prepare for anything I would do.”

GAME-DAY PLEA

The Browns are asking fans to arrive early and “support the drive to the playoffs,” according to a team release.

A half hour before kickoff,  50 fans will be picked to join the team on the sidelines for pregame introductions.

Fans are advised to consider entering at the northwest and northeast gates. The southwest entry, near the Third Street bridge, tends to be an unholy mess, with hundreds of fans stuck in line at kickoff.

WATCH FOR WHITNER

Browns wideout Braylon Edward has vivid memories of facing Bills safety Donte Whitner when they were at Michigan and Ohio State.

“He’s a fast guy, a really aggressive player,” Edwards said. “He has a passion about the game.”

They were buddies when Whitner was shopping for colleges. Edwards played host to Whitner at Michigan. Now they are rivals who can maim each other’s playoff chances.

“I’m probably gonna have to keep my head on a swivel,” Edwards said.

Extra points

- Former Brown quarterback Kelly Holcomb holds Buffalo’s single-season record for completion percentage, 67.4 in 2005, after his four-year run in Cleveland. Losman has completed 63.4 percent of his passes this year, fourth-best in Bills history, but the team has switched to the rookie Edwards.

- Head Coach Romeo Crennel said some Browns with draft input liked Edwards, and the team would have considered drafting him. “Something else came up,” he said of Quinn.

Reach Canton Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com