Cards' Anderson on Browns tenure: 'Every day was frustrating'

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Derek Anderson was the quarterback the Cleveland Browns didn't want.

Almost from the day the Browns drafted Brady Quinn in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Cleveland's yell-til-it-hurts fans called for him to be their starter and savior.

Quinn, not Anderson, was the one who got the national TV ad campaign -- long before he became a starter.

Even Cleveland's coaches didn't seem to know what to do with the two quarterbacks, rotating them in and out like a whack-a-mole game.

So, by the time Anderson's five-year career in Cleveland came to an end, he felt like there was a mantra playing in his head: Brady, Brady, Brady.

"Every day was frustrating, at times," Anderson said.

Finally, Anderson can stop looking over his shoulder.

Released by the Browns during the offseason, Anderson signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. He came onboard to serve as the backup, but he has made it a closer-than-expected competition, with Matt Leinart having a so-so training camp.

Regardless of whether or not he supplants Leinart as Arizona's starter or serves as a ready-to-go backup, Anderson is glad to be done with Cleveland and the Quinn drama, ready to move on to a clean slate.

"It wasn't the most enjoyable situation I've ever been in, but I've learned a lot and it made me a better player and a better person," he said.

The appeal of Arizona to Anderson was easy: a fresh start with a team two years removed from the Super Bowl and a merry-go-round full of talented receivers.

The Cardinals wanted Anderson because of his experience, a player who could push Leinart to improve and take over if he doesn't.

They got an added bonus, too.

The extroverted Anderson has kept the Cardinals loose with his pedal-to-the-floor personality, mockingly showing receivers how to run routes, diving on balls during drills, making always-boring meetings not seem quite so dull.

"ADD, man," Leinart jokingly said after being asked what Anderson's personality has added to Arizona's quarterback group. "He's a character. He's got a unique personality. We're all very similar in age, and it makes it fun for us as a group. He's just Derek. He's got a fun personality, is just all over the place like that."

It has been more than good-natured goofiness.

Leinart has a big head start on Arizona's system entering his fifth season playing under it, but Anderson has worked hard to close the gap.

Behind that make-everyone-laugh personality is an intense worker, a former sixth-round draft pick who took himself from the scrap heap in Baltimore to the Pro Bowl in 2007. The Cardinals saw some of Anderson's work ethic and eagerness to get things right during offseason workouts, and he has accelerated it since training camp started.

"His willingness to work, especially in some of the details of what he needs to do to improve," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said of what he has learned about Anderson. "He's made great progress with that in the past few weeks. He hears you, he processes it and he's working on things."

Anderson also has a freedom that he hasn't experienced since Quinn's heralded arrival in Cleveland three years ago. In Arizona, Anderson can just go out and play, be himself, not have to hear the fans' complaints or worry about the in-one-week-out-the-next drama that played out with the Browns.

"When you've been somewhere for so long, it's time for a change no matter what your job is," Anderson said. "It was time, and I'm happy to be here."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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