Couch Throws Again, Says He'll Face Chiefs

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Tim Couch dropped back to pass, cocked his sore right arm and the Cleveland Browns quarterback let one fly -- into his left hand.

Couch didn't throw a pass longer than 10 yards while reporters were allowed to watch the first 30 minutes of practice Wednesday, the first day he planned to seriously test his arm.

During one drill, Couch pantomimed making throws as his wide receivers ran routes into the end zone.

Earlier, Couch, who tore scar tissue from his right elbow in an exhibition game last week, said he planned to be under center when the Browns open the regular season Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"I would be really shocked if I couldn't go," Couch said. "The way it feels now, it's gotten a lot better and I have every intention of going out there and starting."

The Chiefs expect to see Couch, too.

"We're preparing for Tim Couch," Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil said.

Surely, though, the Chiefs were getting ready in case Couch can't play, right?

"No, not that I know of," Vermeil said during a conference call. "There isn't a great backlog of information on Kelly Holcomb."

There couldn't be much videotape available on Holcomb, who would start if Couch can't play. He's a career NFL backup, has made one career start -- for the Indianapolis Colts in 1997 -- and has attempted 85 passes in six pro seasons.

Following practice, Browns coach Butch Davis said Couch and Holcomb would continue to divide time with the starting offense for the next three days.

"We're getting both guys ready because you don't know," Davis said.

Davis said Couch threw the ball farther and harder on Wednesday than he did on Monday. That's when Davis said he saw nothing to make him believe Couch won't be ready to play.

"I still believe that," Davis said. "If Tim misses one or two games and plays 14, I'd rather have that than if he shows everybody what a hero or tough guy he was and played in only eight games."

Davis said it's conceivable that he'd wait until Sunday's 1 p.m. kickoff before deciding on a starter. Davis promised he won't be making that call alone.

"A lot of this is going to be how Tim's feeling and observation," Davis said. "If he doesn't think he can play, I guarantee Tim Couch will be the first one to say, 'I can't make the throws.'"

Couch was listed as "probable" on the Browns' first injury report of the season.

After feeling something pull in his forearm in an Aug. 26 game at Green Bay, Couch sat out Cleveland's final exhibition game last Friday night to rest his arm.

He took the weekend off and didn't throw until Monday's practice. He took part in every drill except the final one, when Holcomb led the starters in the two-minute offense.

Couch, who has been bothered by tendinitis in his elbow for three years, said he's encouraged by the way his arm responded after throwing on Monday.

"It felt surprisingly good," said Couch, who was unavailable for comment following Wednesday's workout. "I was expecting to have a little soreness."

Couch said he's not going to fight team doctors or his coaches just so he can play on Sunday. If they want him to sit out, he will -- no questions asked.

"They're just looking at the big picture," Couch said. "They don't want me to miss any games in the future. I know my body and I know how it feels. So if I think I can go, if I feel good and confident that I can do what I can do, then I'll play."

Couch said that if any part of his body other than his arm was hurting, he might be more willing try to play through the pain.

"If it happened to be my leg and not my right arm, I probably would be pretty hardheaded," he said.

Notes: The Browns signed five players to their practice squad: defensive tackle Damian Gregory, defensive back Michael Jameson, defensive back James Lewis, defensive end DeAngelo Lloyd and tight end Alvin Morrow. ... TE Aaron Shea (shoulder), and DE Kenard Lang (ankle) are questionable for Sunday while LB Ben Taylor (hamstring) and Earl Little (ankle) are doubtful. Davis said Shea has not yet been cleared for contact.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)