Coach Still Mum On Which QB Will Start

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Butch Davis chose captains for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans, and one of them is quarterback Tim Couch. Cleveland's coach isn't quite ready to publicly announce if Couch is starting, however.

"Don't know yet," Davis said Friday.

Couch missed the first two games with a sore right elbow, but after spending the majority of the week practicing with the first-team offense, he likely will be under center against the Titans.

Kelly Holcomb is expected to return to his role as Cleveland's backup after starting against Kansas City and Cincinnati while Couch rested his arm.

"The week went great," Couch said. "I made all the throws, all the long balls and all the deep routes. I made all the throws I'll have to make in a game."

By now, Davis surely knows who's going to start, but he's keeping it a secret as long as possible.

All signs have been pointing to Couch, and Davis gave the clearest signal during Friday's practice.

As the Browns lined up to stretch, Davis announced to his players that he had chosen Couch and wide receiver Kevin Johnson as the offensive captains for Cleveland's first road game this season.

Davis said he's confident Couch is ready to play.

"There have been no setbacks," Davis said. "He's been able to throw the ball and his arm has responded, and it's felt very strong and very alive. Right now, there are no concerns. Tim has practiced well. We've been very happy with the progress that he's made."

Couch hasn't played since the Aug. 26 exhibition game in Green Bay when he tore scar tissue near his elbow. He didn't think he would be out long, but his elbow continued to be sore.

Couch was worried the injury was worse and visited orthopedist Dr. James Andrews to get another opinion. Andrews told Couch to continue throwing, but urged him to sit out the season's first two weeks to lessen the chances that he would reinjure his arm.

Couch, who was having his finest preseason before getting hurt, didn't take the news well and wanted to make his season debut last week against the Bengals.

However, he was overruled by team doctors and Andrews, and Holcomb led the Browns to a 20-7 victory.

"Looking back at it now," Couch said. "They were right."

Couch may already know whether he's starting, but he too was quiet about the subject.

"They haven't told me," he said. "I'm going to approach it like I'm going to be the starter. I'm confident I'll be out there on Sunday."

Holcomb was superb while filling in for Couch. The career backup, who sat behind Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, has the NFL's second-highest quarterback rating -- 111.0 -- after two weeks.

Holcomb has gone 44 of 69 for 526 yards with five TDs and no interceptions.

"I wouldn't be human if I said I didn't want to start," Holcomb said Friday. "Tim was trying to get well and I just tried to go out and step up."

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