Clausen, McCoy content with their backup plans ... for now

Let the humbling begin.

Jimmy Clausen was a high-profile passer at Notre Dame. For the Carolina Panthers this year, he could very well end up third on the depth chart.

Colt McCoy was a megastar quarterback at Texas. For the Cleveland Browns this year, he, too, could be the backup to the backup.

Clausen and McCoy are two of four quarterbacks selected in the first three rounds of last April's draft -- Clausen, on the second, and McCoy, on the third. Granted, the two chosen in Round 1, St. Louis' Sam Bradford and Denver's Tim Tebow, also could log their share of time this season holding a clipboard.

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But their draft status and, in the case of Tebow, particular skill set could very well lead to both seeing action as rookies. As the top overall pick, Bradford clearly has the best chance of the four to start. Tebow's exceptional running and athleticism figure to give him a good opportunity to get on the field in goal-line and other special situations.

Clausen, whose team opens training camp Wednesday, and McCoy, who joins the rest of the Browns' first-year players for the start of week-long rookie camp on Friday, appear destined for a full season of watching and learning.

Incumbent Matt Moore has likely secured the starting job in Carolina. Clausen and Hunter Cantwell are expected to fight it out for the No. 2 spot. Although Cantwell doesn't have Clausen's pedigree (he was an undrafted rookie in 2009 who spent most of last season on the practice squad), he did perform well enough in the offseason to convince some Panther observers that he should receive serious consideration for the second-string role. The Panthers have another rookie quarterback, sixth-round choice Tony Pike from Cincinnati, but he's expected to end up on the practice squad.

Despite the ultra-cocky reputation he developed in college, Clausen sounded fairly grounded in assessing his situation with the Panthers this summer. You won't hear any declarations from him about becoming the starter.

"I'm just going to work as hard as I can and let that play out down the road," he said. "It's not my decision."

The Browns' quarterbacking plans for this season seem set. Veteran Jake Delhomme will start and Seneca Wallace will be his backup. McCoy is earmarked as Cleveland's quarterback of the future. Whether that will be next year or 2010 is unknown.

What McCoy does know is that for all of his success at Texas, where his 45 career victories are the most by any quarterback in NCAA Division I history, he faces a difficult learning process in the NFL.

"I'm learning as much as I can, I study as hard as I can," said McCoy, who signed a four-year, $5 million contract on Thursday. "I know I'm not perfect, but when I get out there, I try to produce. And that's what I did (during the offseason). In minicamps, when I had reps, I had positive plays."

In offseason workouts, McCoy took the majority of snaps with the third- and second-stringers. He even had one series with the starters.

McCoy asked the Browns' offensive coaches what they expected of him. They told him the following: Be the leader of his rookie class, do his best, don't make the same mistake twice, and compete.

"I've done all those things," McCoy said. "That's what my focus is and I'm there for the team. If it's best for me to sit on the bench and write down the plays on a notepad and wait my time, then that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. But if it's being ready to play and something happens and I go in, my goal is not to come back off the field."

Clausen is taking a similar approach. He's concentrating on improving all aspects of his game, but some of the areas to which he intends to give the greatest attention in camp are: Accuracy, footwork, play-action fakes, and sprint-outs.

One advantage for Clausen is that the Panthers mostly use the same offense that he ran with the Fighting Irish. Carolina offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson was an assistant coach in New England when Charlie Weis, Clausen's former coach at Notre Dame, was the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

McCoy will need all of the practice time he can get to fully grasp the Browns' West Coast offense. He has found some elements of the scheme similar to what he ran at Jim Ned High School in Tuscola, Texas.

"Until you feel comfortable and you can go out there and compete and play without thinking about it, you haven't mastered it yet," McCoy said. "So what I am working on every day is just trying to get comfortable with it. Once I get comfortable with the system, then I can get comfortable with playing football again."

For the time being, he and Clausen can count on doing much more watching than playing.

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