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Frye ready to fight for starting spot as Browns' quarterback

BEREA, Ohio -- Charlie Frye slipped on boxing gloves and stepped inside the ropes a few weeks ago.

He was already set to fight for his starting job.

Looking to hold off Derek Anderson -- and maybe rookie Brady Quinn -- as Cleveland's No. 1 quarterback, Frye spent several weeks in the scorching Arizona heat last month working out with Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb and others before reporting to training camp.

Instead of going to one of those high-tech facilities with the latest in weight-lifting equipment and technology, Frye chose Make Plays, a no-frills gym, to break a sweat. There were no juice bars or resistance-training machines to be found, just barbells, jump ropes and heavy bags.

"It's an old-school, Rocky Balboa-type gym," he said. "We did everything from boxing to running to throwing."

Frye boxed a few rounds, throwing jabs and left hooks at an imaginary opponent.

"I didn't want anybody to mess up my face," he said with a laugh. "So I was just swinging at the (sparring) mitts. My feet are a little too heavy for boxing. You go one round in the ring and it feels like four quarters of football. It's tough. I have a lot of respect for what kind of condition those guys are in just from messing around with it for a little bit."

So, what kind of boxer is he?

"They said if it wasn't for football, I'd be the next (Muhammad) Ali," he cracked.

The greatest quarterback in camp would be good enough for the Browns.

Frye is in a three-way competition with Anderson and Quinn, the first-round draft pick who has yet to report to training camp because of a contract holdout, to start the season opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 9.

Last week, Browns coach Romeo Crennel said Frye had a leg up on the competition.

Frye went 4-9 in 13 starts last season, and the former third-round pick from Akron came to camp confident he can hold off Cleveland's other QBs and keep his starting job. It's a mindset he has had to develop during two tough seasons with the Browns.

"I think that's the biggest part of playing quarterback and being successful," he said. "If you look at Peyton (Manning) or Tom Brady, they have a lot of confidence and that's the key factor in being a successful quarterback."

Hanging around with McNabb made a huge impression on Frye, who missed three games with a wrist injury before in 2006 returning to play the season finale. Frye tried to absorb all he could from McNabb, who brought some of his Eagles teammates along with him to the desert.

"Donovan has been through everything," Frye said. "To see how he interacts with his players, I picked up some different ideas from him as far as his scrambling abilities and why he doesn't do it anymore - just little stuff like that.

"Just being around a guy with that experience and guy who has been to the Super Bowl and to Pro Bowls. He's a great guy and I think I picked up a lot in those couple weeks."

One of Frye's biggest failings last season was a tendency to tuck the ball and run as soon as his pocket protection broke down. Did McNabb give him any pointers on when to run and when to stay put?

"That's his secret," Frye said with a smile. "But I think you guys will be able to tell during the first couple games what the secret is."

Frye doesn't expect to be on the run nearly as much this season. Cleveland revamped its offensive line during the offseason, signing free agent guard Eric Steinbach, re-signing center Hank Fraley and drafting left tackle Joe Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick.

"I think they'll give me a lot of time this year," Frye said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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