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Seattle backup Frye believes he will start again


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From first to third: Seattle backup Frye believes he will start again

Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Less than a year ago, Charlie Frye was the starting quarterback for the team he grew up loving in Willard, Ohio. He was throwing to Cleveland Browns stars Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.

Then, after one horrid game, Frye crash-landed in Seattle. He became a third-string quarterback when the Browns gave him away for a sixth-round draft pick, the most sudden trade of an opening-day starter in modern NFL history.

This week he's throwing passes through the rain to undrafted free agent Michael Bumpus. He's fighting for snaps in minicamp with Dalton Bell, a first-year pro from West Texas A&M recently waived by Green Bay. He's humbled as much as any NFL starting quarterback in recent memory.

Yet Frye retains hope.

"This isn't my end," said the 26-year-old who went 6-13 as the Browns' starter while enduring changed offenses and coaching staffs. "I don't see myself as a so-called 'career backup' quarterback. My goal is to get back on the field. That's what I do every day. Every day in the weight room, the film room, on the field, it's keep pushing forward to get back on the field so I can be a starting quarterback again."

He was that for Cleveland, after a dynamic college career at nearby Akron. He won a close training camp battle with Derek Anderson last summer, and then went 4-of-10 for 34 yards with an interception Sept. 9 and got sacked five times during a 34-7 loss to Pittsburgh in Cleveland. The Browns then replaced their third-round pick in 2005 with Anderson, a third-year veteran who had just three starts.

Since the NFL and AFL merged in 1970, no quarterback had ever started an opener and been traded before Week 2.

Frye appeared stunned for the remainder of 2007, seemingly adrift in Seattle without so much as a snap in practice.

"I think in time, you adjust to it. But there's always going to be that in the back of your mind that motivates you," he said. "It keeps your eye on the prize, as they say. Something like that happens to you, you are going to think about that a little bit. It motivates you and drives you to become a better player."

Seahawks offensive coordinator Gil Haskell said he senses Frye is still disappointed, if not crushed.

"I'm sure. He was a starter and then he went to being the third guy," Haskell said. "That's no fun."

But Haskell is quick to add that Frye helped Seattle win its fourth consecutive NFC West title last season.

"On the sidelines during the games, he was a big influence and help for us. I mean, he could get the other team's signals," Haskell said. "He could watch the formations, see the defenses ... really helpful."

While Frye spied, Anderson starred in Cleveland. The former backup in Baltimore joined Edwards and Winslow in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl -- while Frye's career just seemed to say aloha. He and second-stringer Seneca Wallace watched as Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle's starter since 2001, set team passing records and went to his third Pro Bowl.

"Before I left, I knew they had a good team, with the amount of money they spent on their offensive line," Frye said of the Browns. "You just knew that Kellen and Braylon were going to break out."

Now, Frye waits for another breakout chance. And waits. And waits ...

"Charlie's got to have plays so we can see where he fits," Haskell said. "The games will tell. He's fine out here, but you've got to do it in a game."

Haskell means preseason games, not the ones that matter.

"This year, I'm treating the preseason as my season," Frye said. "Last year, I kind of used the preseason as a tuneup to get ready for the season. This year, the preseason, that's pretty much my season."

Frye knows other NFL teams will be watching in August, to see if he could become a starter again someday. Until then, Frye will keep in mind the career paths of Anderson and Hasselbeck.

"Look at Matt's example. He was in Green Bay for three years and he didn't start playing until he was my age," Frye said. "Everyone has a different path. And nobody knows what that is. I'm sure D.A. didn't know when he was in Baltimore that he would be where he is at right now with Cleveland.

"I just believe in my heart that I am going to be playing again in this league. ... I can get the job done. I can play."

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