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Holmgren optimistic about Browns' season after roster makeover

BEREA, Ohio -- Mike Holmgren is excited about the Cleveland Browns -- even if he's starting his first season as team president with his right leg in a cast.

"I'm as excited as I have ever been," he said Wednesday.

Holmgren entered the media room with his right leg propped up on a cart with wheels that enabled him to move around.

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"Don't ask," said Holmgren, who had surgery on his right foot to correct a condition that had been "bugging" him for a few years. As he recovers, he will violate one of the rules he had during training camp over 17 seasons as a pro coach: Nobody sits.

Holmgren won't be content to sit and watch another 5-11 season as the Browns endured in 2009, either. He already has made significant roster changes since joining the organization in December -- though embattled coach Eric Mangini remains.

Holmgren expressed confidence that Mangini, in his second year as Browns coach, will show progress to impatient fans. He also vowed to try and stay out of the way, though he isn't completely sure of resisting the urge to prowl the sidelines himself.

"Will it be difficult for me?" Holmgren said. "We'll see. I suspect I'll be a little antsy.

"Just flip the situation. When I was coach, I didn't like it (being second-guessed by management).

"If I thought (Mangini) couldn't do it, I wouldn't have come here in this role. We have some new talent, and Eric is going to put it together."

Among many new players are quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, added in the offseason when the Browns traded Brady Quinn to the Denver Broncos and released Derek Anderson.

"The quarterback play should me more consistent," Holmgren said. "That alone means this season should be better.

"This team needed leadership there as much as anything."

Delhomme, a 12-year NFL veteran, had some productive seasons before a poor 2009 campaign with the Carolina Panthers. Holmgren pointed out that Delhomme is "only" 35 years old, drawing a comparison to an even older quarterback.

"I had another quarterback," Holmgren said. "He's 46 and still playing."

Brett Favre, now actually 40, led the Holmgren-coached Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl victory in 1997.

Holmgren believes No. 1 draft choice cornerback Joe Haden could be signed by the time camp opens Saturday.

"I'm not discouraged," Holmgren said of negotiations. "We're making progress."

Holmgren believes that as soon as one NFL team signs a top pick, others will get deals done, too.

"We need a domino, and then it starts to happen," he said.

Holmgren's theory of things falling into place could apply to second-year receiver Brian Robiskie, who caught just seven passes as a rookie. Holmgren believes the struggles of Quinn and Anderson to find consistency hindered Robiskie's development.

"Receivers like to catch the football, but rookies often find it is a different world," Holmgren said. "Then in the second year -- bang. They get it. It happens all the time. Brian can be like that."

Holmgren won't quite subscribe to the Browns producing a big bang in 2010, though there is no doubt he expects improvement as soon as the squad adjusts to the changes. That includes a new offensive scheme, which he insisted that Mangini accept.

"I think we'll be improved," Holmgren said. "It's a very healthy situation."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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