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Holmgren happy yet cautious on McCoy; Browns tried for No. 1 pick

BEREA, Ohio -- The Colt McCoy Show won't open anytime soon in Cleveland.

With Browns fans already fired up by their team's third-round selection of McCoy, president and in-house quarterback savant Mike Holmgren said Saturday that there are no plans to play the Texas quarterback as a rookie.

Despite his pedigree, McCoy just isn't ready, and Holmgren won't force the quarterback on coach Eric Mangini.

Not yet, at least.

"He's not going to play this year," Holmgren said Saturday as he wrapped up his first Browns draft. "Things could change, but I don't expect him to play. We have three quarterbacks already here that we feel very good about. The best thing that might be able to happen to him is that he just sits, watches, learns and make the transition into the pro game."

McCoy might have other ideas, but the Browns, who scooped him up with the 85th overall pick, don't want to make a mistake with their potential franchise quarterback. Too often, Holmgren has seen rookie signal-callers suffer irreparable damage because they were prematurely shoved onto the field.

"You really run the risk of scarring the kid a little bit," Holmgren said.

Cleveland's quarterback carousel spun throughout the offseason. The Browns traded Brady Quinn, once viewed as the franchise's savior, to the Denver Broncos. Derek Anderson, a Pro Bowl pick in 2007, was released, then signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The Browns signed Jake Delhomme as a free agent after his dismal season with the Carolina Panthers and also acquired Seneca Wallace from the Seattle Seahawks in a trade. Brett Ratliff remained on Cleveland's roster as the third-stringer.

The Browns entered the draft intent on adding a young quarterback and tried to go all the way to the top to take one.

Holmgren made a last-ditch effort to pry the No. 1 overall pick from the St. Louis Rams and draft Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. When the Rams, who were noncommittal in preliminary talks with the Browns, didn't sign Bradford before the draft, Holmgren took one last shot.

Holmgren called Rams general manager Billy Devaney 20 minutes before Thursday's first round began with "an offer at the limits of what I was willing to do."

Holmgren didn't give specifics of his offer.

"I thought it was a pretty good deal based on what's been done historically in the last few years," said Holmgren, adding it wasn't the Browns' entire cache of picks, like then-New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka once did to draft running back Ricky Williams. "He (Devaney) said just, 'Mike, we're going to take him.' He probably got tired of us. It was getting close. He had to decide."

Cleveland's Plan B, it turns out, was McCoy.

The Browns never imagined McCoy lasting until the third round, but when he was still around after the team twice passed on chances to take him, Holmgren convinced Mangini and general manager Tom Heckert to select the winningest quarterback in NCAA history.

The pick delighted Browns fans, who flooded radio talk shows with positive feedback. Cleveland has featured eight different opening-week quarterbacks since 1999, with each of them being labeled as the one to finally deliver the Browns a Super Bowl title.

Holmgren knew McCoy's selection would cause a stir.

"When we decided to do it, Eric leaned over to me and said, 'You know, this is going to get people going pretty good,'" Holmgren said. "And I said, 'Yeah.' But that's not why I did it. Honestly. Had we used picks and traded up to create something, then I probably would have went home and wondered, 'Was that the right thing to do?' But the way it happened, I'm glad there's a buzz. I think it's healthy, and I think it's a good thing that it gets people going."

But Holmgren cautioned Browns fans to remain patient, which isn't exactly one of their strong points.

"We have some other quarterbacks who've come in to do some other things," Holmgren said. "Colt's one of four. But I'm glad there's a buzz."

On the draft's third day, the Browns addressed some depth issues by taking Nebraska safety Larry Asante, South Florida wide receiver Carlton Mitchell and defensive end Clifton Geathers, whose brother, Robert, plays for the Cincinnati Bengals and whose uncle, Jumpy Geathers, also played in the NFL.

"He's a monster," Heckert said of Clifton Geathers, a 6-foot-8, 300-pounder who has a 7-footer's reach.

Geathers isn't bashful, either.

"I'm a freaky guy," he said. "With a little polishing and coaching, I'll be the best person probably in the league."

Cleveland's first draft under Holmgren and Heckert was split, as the Browns selected four defensive players and four on offense. The team patched up a major weakness in its secondary by taking Florida cornerback Joe Haden with the No. 7 pick and Oregon safety T.J. Ward, a punishing hitter and one of several players whom Heckert called "tough."

"I enjoy whenever you can describe a player that way, it's much better than the alternative," Mangini said. "It's tough to coach soft."

But the biggest selection, the one that will be scrutinized for years and could eventually define Holmgren's tenure, is McCoy, who will be motivated by being passed over by 31 teams.

The plan is to bring McCoy along slowly, but as been shown in the past, plans can easily be wrecked by injuries, impatience or outside pressure. McCoy will arrive in Cleveland believing he can step in and lead the Browns, and he won't be the only who thinks that.

But Holmgren, who helped groom Joe Montana, Steve Young and Brett Favre, knows better.

"He's going to say 'I'm going to go in and I'm going to start' because he's been told that since he was a little guy," Holmgren said. "The truth is, that doesn't happen at that position, usually. He strikes me as the type of kid, I don't know how much you have to nurture him."

At that point, Mangini, criticized for being too harsh on his players, jumped in, leading to an amusing exchange.

"And I'm known for my nurturing," he said.

"You are, you're very nurturing," Holmgren said.

"I am," Mangini said. "That's my reputation."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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