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BROWNS New coach, same old frustration for Harris



Published: Fri, July 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former Bowling Green QB is battling for a job.

SCRIPPS HOWARD

BEREA -- Josh Harris has bounced around like a Ping-Pong ball.

His NFL experience consists of 31 passes he attempted last year in three preseason games with the Baltimore Ravens.

Harris did suit up for two regular season games with Cleveland after joining the team in December, but he never left the sideline.

But now that the Browns have a new coach (Romeo Crennel) and a new general manager (Phil Savage), Harris is looking for a fresh start when he reports to training camp today.

The former record-setting quarterback from Bowling Green has a monumental challenge in front of him.

Harris is competing with third-round draft pick Charlie Frye, veteran free agent Doug Johnson and undrafted rookie Lang Campbell for the Nos. 2 and 3 spots on the depth chart, behind newly acquired starter Trent Dilfer.

"I don't know what I'm expecting or what's going to happen in camp, but I know I have to put my best foot forward," Harris said.

"Hopefully, that effort will be enough to keep me in Cleveland."

Started with Ravens

Last April, Harris was a sixth-round draft pick of the Ravens. Savage was the team's director of player personnel at the time.

When Anthony Wright was injured in training camp, Harris was elevated to be Kyle Boller's backup. That didn't last long.

The Ravens signed veteran Kordell Stewart, and when Wright got healthy, Harris slipped to No. 4 on the depth chart. He was cut four days before Baltimore's season opener, but was signed to the practice squad.

Harris spent almost the entire season carrying a clipboard and taking snaps with the Ravens' scout team.

In mid-December, the Browns signed Harris after losing starting quarterback Jeff Garcia for the season with a knee injury.

Harris was promoted to the active roster and promptly became the No. 2 quarterback. He served as rookie Luke McCown's backup for two games and finished the year at No. 3 after Kelly Holcomb returned from an injury to start the final game.

Another twist

Harris' roller coaster ride took another strange twist in the off-season.

In February, Cleveland released Garcia and his hefty contract after one season. Less than three weeks later, Holcomb signed a four-year deal with the Buffalo Bills to be a backup.

In early March, the Browns acquired Dilfer from the Seattle Seahawks for a fourth-round pick.

A month later, Cleveland drafted Frye, another hotshot Mid-American Conference quarterback from Akron, and signed Campbell as a free agent.

And in June, the Browns added Johnson, a veteran of 11 starts with three teams in five NFL seasons, as insurance in case Dilfer is a disaster or is injured.

The addition of Johnson certainly didn't help Harris (6-foot-1, 234 pounds) in his push for a roster spot.

"You learn fast in this business that you can't mope around or be upset when they sign or draft players at your position," Harris said. "Guys who lose their focus are the guys who lose out altogether.

"I have to keep working toward my goal of playing in the NFL."

Harris is eager to show the Browns what he can do.

But even his best effort may not be good enough to keep the second-year pro from getting bounced once again.




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