BEREA – Derek Anderson and Kellen Clemens are taking their friendly rivalry from Oregon to Broadway.
Make that Off Broadway. As in the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
“Everybody forgets about Oregon,” Anderson said Wednesday. “Actually nobody can probably tell you where it`s at.”
That will change Sunday. Anybody watching CBS` coverage of Browns-Jets at Giants Stadium will get a geography lesson about the Beaver State. The reason: Both starting quarterbacks are from Oregon.
Cleveland`s Anderson was born in Portland, near the Pacific Coast, and raised about a half-hour away in Scappoose (population near 5,000). New York`s Clemens grew up 300 miles away in Burns (population around 3,000), which is in the southeastern part of the state, and was raised on a 3,500-acre family ranch with 150 cows.
“He`s from more of a hick town than I am,” Anderson said. “His town is like as far away from nowhere as you can get. At least I can drive to Portland and you`ve got a shopping mall. I don`t know where they go to the nearest store.”
Anderson and Clemens, born nine days apart in June 1983, have been connected since their high school days. They were highly ranked prep prospects and attended the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp in Southern California, which was also attended by Matt Leinart (Cardinals), Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Brodie Croyle (Chiefs) and Kyle Orton (Bears).
Clemens, whose graduating class had 63 students, had to drive three hours to an airport in Boise, Idaho, and showed up at the camp in cut-off jeans and a cowboy hat.
“He legitimately is from cowboy country,” Anderson said. “I`ve seen (that outfit) more than once. He wears the big old belt buckles and tight jeans and boots. I wear flip-flops and shorts.”
Clemens, on a conference call with the Cleveland media, was proud of his background â€“ and belt buckles.
“I have three big ones,” he said. “I grew up on a ranch.”
Browns fans will be glad to hear that Anderson has gotten the better of Clemens over the years. The “friendly rivalry” started in the state semifinals of their senior seasons in high school.
“It was in Eugene and a great atmosphere,” Clemens said. “Derek and the Scappoose Indians played some pretty good football and came out on top, 46-26.”
Scappoose won the state title, Anderson went to Oregon State in Corvallis and Clemens to the University of Oregon in Eugene. They met up twice as full-time starters, splitting the meetings.
Anderson went 2-1 vs. the Ducks from 2002-04 and Clemens, who redshirted, went 2-1 vs. the Beavers from 2003-05. In their final collegiate meeting in 2004, Anderson threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns in a 51-20 win.
They`ll meet again in Giants Stadium.
“It`s kind of cool that he`s done what he`s done and I`ve ended up here and we`ve stayed close,” Anderson said.
“It`s pretty awesome we both have the opportunity to play at this level and square off Sunday,” Clemens said. “It`s a great honor.”
Anderson was a sixth-round pick in 2005 and Clemens a second-rounder in 2006. Anderson`s 7-4 as a starter this season with a 57.4 completion percentage, 3,062 yards, 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and an 87.7 rating.
Clemens threw just one pass as a rookie and is 2-3 as a starter this year, 2-2 since taking over for Chad Pennington. He`s completed 50.8 percent of his passes with four touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 61.5 rating.
“I like that he`s got a strong arm, that he`s mobile,” Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. “He seems to have a good grasp of the offense, checking off at the line, changing plays, and seems to be running the offense efficiently.”
At 6-foot-2, Clemens is four inches shorter than Anderson. They both have strong arms, and Clemens has more mobility.
“He`s a short, little, squatty guy,” Anderson joked. “He`s a little more athletic than I am, he runs around a little bit more. We have two different styles, really.”
They keep in contact and Anderson said they talked before the Jets upset the Steelers on Nov. 18.
“I kind of helped him out with some stuff I saw when we played them,” Anderson said. “I don`t know if it helped at all, but they beat `em.”
There will be no scouting report Sunday when they talk on the field before the game. Just some old stories of their days in Oregon.
BEREA – The NFL season has reached Week 14. You can tell by looking at the injury reports.
The Browns listed nine players Wednesday, seven of whom didn`t practice. Coach Romeo Crennel is hopeful as many as possible can return to practice today and be ready Sunday vs. the New York Jets, but odds suggest at least a couple won`t be able to play.
“At this time of year, you always have one or two more injuries,” Crennel said. “So some guys I`m resting in an effort to try to get them to Sunday. Other guys, we`ll have to see how they progress.”
Nose tackle Ethan Kelley (knee) returned to practice in a limited role for the first time since missing the last two games. Cornerback Eric Wright (knee) has also missed two straight games and was limited in practice.
“I get a chance to run around a little bit,” Wright said before practice. “I felt pretty good after Friday, when I went out there and did a few things. I`m just trying to see how I feel (Wednesday) and take it from there.
“It`s been hard (not playing) for the simple fact that I`m a competitor.”
The seven players who didn`t practice were: defensive ends Simon Fraser (flu), Robaire Smith (neck) and Orpheus Roye (knee), linebackers Antwan Peek (knee) and David McMillan (sprained knee ligament), right tackle Kevin Shaffer (knee) and tight end Steve Heiden (ankle).
Roye missed Sunday`s game vs. the Cardinals, and McMillan was hurt Sunday. Smith, Peek and Shaffer have lingering injuries that they`ve been able to fight through in order to play.
“We`re no different than anybody else,” Crennel said. “We`ll prepare and get ready to go.”
The Jets listed 10 players on the injury report.
The Browns signed linebacker Colby Bockwoldt to replace Kris Griffin, who was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Griffin, a staple on special teams with 14 tackles, was hurt Sunday on the opening kickoff and didn`t return.
Bockwoldt (6-foot-2, 245 pounds) has played in 48 games, 24 starts, with New Orleans and Tennessee. He was a seventh-round pick of the Saints in 2004 and started 16 games in 2005 with a career-high 93 tackles. Last year, he led the Titans with 20 special teams tackles.
“He will try to replace some of the special teams help Griffin gave us,” Crennel said.
The Browns special teams will face a stiff challenge in Jets kick returner Leon Washington, who`s second in the NFL with a 30.5-yard kickoff return average.
Robaire stands out
SI.com`s Peter King named Smith one of his defensive players of the week after he made a pair of goal-line stops in the fourth quarter to force a Cardinals field goal.
“That`s a nice honor coming from someone like him,” Smith said. “It shows we`re playing a little better defensively. But we need to play all the time – for all 60 minutes – like we did on that goal-line stand. That`s how we can play. We just need to do it.”
Play it safe
Kick returner Joshua Cribbs was still upset with himself after muffing a punt Sunday that led to a Cardinals touchdown. The kick was short and Cribbs tripped over Browns cornerback Daven Holly, dropping the ball.
“I take full responsibility as a former quarterback,” Cribbs said. “I could`ve gotten those guys out of the way with a poison call to tell them to get away from it. I probably should have let it go. Running up towards the sideline — you can`t make a play all the time.”
Crennel said reserve nose tackle Louis Leonard made a nice play during the goal-line stand vs. the Cardinals.Â
* The Browns are unlikely to pursue veteran nose tackle Sam Adams, who was cut by the Broncos.
*Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery (finger) didn`t practice.Â
* Crennel said keeping guys from losing composure is a priority after the Browns were penalized 10 times for 77 yards Sunday.
“I`ve addressed it to them in meetings, we`ll address it continually every day and point out to them that we need to make good decisions,” Crennel said. “If it comes up on the practice field, then we`ll definitely address it there.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or email@example.com.