Delhomme full of fire, not venom

CHARLOTTE – Quarterback Jake Delhomme drops back, threads the needle for a touchdown pass, then runs around celebrating like a teenager.

Panthers fans have seen Delhomme's excitable style countless times, but if they see it again Sunday, it will be to the detriment of their favorite team.

"He'll be extremely fired up, in the fashion that we've seen from him in a lot of times before," Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross said of Delhomme, who was named starter on Friday for the Cleveland Browns' home game Sunday against Carolina. "It will definitely be an interesting Sunday."

Delhomme, the Panthers' starting quarterback from 2003-09, signed with the Browns in the offseason after Carolina released him. Delhomme led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in his first season and to the playoffs two other times, but he struggled in 2009.

Now he's found a new home in Cleveland, backing up and mentoring rookie Colt McCoy, who will be sidelined Sunday with an ankle injury.

"It's ironic, let's be honest," said Delhomme, who opened the year as starter but has dealt with an ankle injury of his own. "If the kid is not banged up, I am going to have pompoms in my hands cheering on the side.

"It is it ironic since we're playing against the Panthers, and who knows, I might have a chance to play."

Delhomme easily could be bitter given that Carolina cut him loose, but that's not his style. He's content in Cleveland and still looks back fondly on his long run with the Panthers.

"I think things had to end in Charlotte, and I mean that in the most respectful way," Delhomme said. "Sometimes a break-up is needed, and I really and truly believe that was best for both parties.

"It was fun, and I'll always consider myself a Panther, but I think getting a fresh start helped me more than anything. It kind of worked out best for everybody."

The Panthers, like they did with Delhomme last season, have struggled with quarterback play in 2010. Matt Moore, who took over for Delhomme late last season, is out for the year following shoulder surgery, leaving the position to rookies Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike and free agent acquisition Brian St. Pierre.

"I'm sure that for him it probably feels a little good almost that we've had some quarterback troubles," Gross said. "He doesn't wish it on anybody personally, but it shows how big of a part of this team he was for so many years."

Again, though, that's not really Delhomme's style.

"It's just sad. I feel bad for Matt," said Delhomme, who has talked to Moore numerous times during the season. "I know he was expecting big things."

Delhomme may not be harboring ill will against the Panthers, but that doesn't mean he won't be his excitable self for their visit. He'd be excited regardless of the competition because he's suddenly got a shot to get back in the competition.

McCoy seized control of the starting job after replacing veteran Seneca Wallace – who had replaced Delhomme – and leading the Browns to victories over New Orleans and New England.

"I am fired up, but I was fired up to be out on the practice field last week," said Delhomme, who last played in Week 5. "I have been in the training room under the florescent lights since September 14th. That has been the hardest part for me.

"Certainly I will be fired up to play because I am sitting back and watching a young kid play who is pretty good, and I am thinking, 'Have I played my last down?' I understand that, so it's a great opportunity. I'm excited for that."

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