Mangini hopes Delhomme can practice with Browns this week

BEREA, Ohio -- Hobbled by a nasty ankle injury the past two weeks, Cleveland Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme practiced -- by himself.

As his teammates went through drills outdoors, Delhomme, who sustained a high ankle sprain during Cleveland's season-opening loss at Tampa Bay, tested his injury by throwing passes to Browns trainers Wednesday inside the team's indoor field house.

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It's the first time Delhomme has been seen doing any football drills since being hurt Sept. 12. He has been inactive for Cleveland's past two games as backup Seneca Wallace has started in close losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens.

Delhomme has been wearing a walking boot, but he only had a brace on his ankle as he dropped back and threw several passes indoors.

Browns coach Eric Mangini said Delhomme could "potentially" return to practice Thursday and Friday. Signed as a free agent during the offseason, Delhomme went 20-of-37 passing for 227 yards in his Browns debut.

Mangini would prefer to see Delhomme play Sunday at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he has been pleased with Wallace, who has thrown for 370 yards and two touchdowns with one interception the past two weeks. Wallace had a 103.0 passer rating against Baltimore's defense -- one of the NFL's best.

"I anticipate Jake coming back," Mangini said. "We'll see where he is. I want Jake to be healthy. That's not a knock on Seneca. But Jake does some good things for us offensively."

With Delhomme out for the second consecutive contest, Cleveland turned to its running game last week, and Peyton Hillis ran for a career-high 144 yards against the Ravens.

However, the Browns dropped their third in a row -- by just 12 combined points -- and fell to 0-3 for the third consecutive year and fourth time in the last five seasons. The schedule ahead is brutal, with upcoming games against the Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints before the bye week.

And although they're still searching for their first win, there's a positive vibe on the Browns that they're close to getting it.

"We've had the lead in every fourth quarter," left tackle Joe Thomas said. "We have talent. We've proven we can do some good things on offense. We're kind of finding our identity. Having the Ravens on the run, we felt like we should have won that game. We were really close at the end.

"We lost 34-3 to the Ravens last year, and we were really searching for answers. We kind of know where we are right now, and I think looking forward, there's a lot of good things instead of a lot of questions."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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