BEREA, Ohio Kelly Holcomb was tough enough to play on a broken leg last week, giving Browns coach Butch Davis hope that the Cleveland quarterback can do it again.
Holcomb sustained a hairline fracture to his right leg in the first quarter Sunday of a 13-12 comeback win in San Francisco. Yet despite the injury, Holcomb played through the pain and rallied the Browns (1-2) by throwing two fourth-quarter TD passes the final one with 29 seconds left.
Davis said it's too early to say if Holcomb's injury will keep him out of this week's game against Cincinnati, and that his quarterback could conceivably play with the injury all season.
''He played the whole game yesterday on it,'' Davis said defiantly Monday.
But given the way Holcomb hobbled off the field, it would be hard to imagine him recovering quickly enough for the Browns to put him back out there, even against the lowly Bengals (0-3).
Davis, though, is staying optimistic.
''We'll see how the swelling comes out and it will be day-to-day,'' Davis said.
Holcomb, selected the starter by Davis over Tim Couch at the end of training camp, was injured on a sneak near his own goal line. As Holcomb pushed into the line, defensive end Chidi Ahanotu fell on the quarterback's leg.
Holcomb got his ankle taped and continued to play. He sprained his left ankle in the third quarter and still finished 25-of-38 for 222 yards and two TDs.
Wincing in pain and hobbling, Holcomb completed 12 of 14 passes on a 91-yard scoring drive in the final minutes, throwing an 11-yard TD pass to Andre' Davis for the game-winner.
''It was somewhat John Wayne-esque,'' Davis said Monday. ''He fought through the whole day and refused to surrender, like a heavyweight prize fighter. He kept getting up off the mat.''
Davis typically downplays injuries hoping that his optimism can help a player return earlier than expected. He dismissed a radio report that Holcomb will be out four-to-six weeks as ''totally erroneous,'' and said he wasn't trying to mislead anyone.
''If he was going to be gone four-to-six, trust me, I wouldn't be telling you and setting myself up for looking like a fool on Wednesday,'' Davis said.
Holcomb has played hurt before.
Last year, he broke his left leg while filling in when Couch suffered a concussion against Baltimore. Holcomb stayed in despite the injury and nearly brought the Browns back for a win.
While at Middle Tennessee State, Holcomb broke his jaw and still finished a game.
Davis said initial X-rays at halftime didn't show the fracture. He considered switching to Couch in the third quarter, but decided not to when Holcomb appeared to be OK.
''He was moving around fine and he was playing fine,'' Davis said. ''He was able to plant and able to throw. ''Mobility was a little bit of an issue, but it wasn't much of a factor. I don't think anybody is going to mistake Kelly for Michael Vick anyway.''
On the Browns' final drive, Holcomb completed 11 straight passes. He threw to five receivers and converted four third-down situations despite excruciating pain.
''To see him in that kind of pain made us want to go out and make plays for him,'' said Andre' Davis, who made two big ones, catching a 2-yard TD pass to get Cleveland within 12-7.
Bucs sign Minnis to help ailing receivers
TAMPA, Fla. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Free agent wide receiver Marvin ''Snoop'' Minnis to a two-year contract Tuesday, helping solidify a position stung by the loss of starter Joe Jurevicius.
Jurevicius tore a ligament in his right knee in a loss to the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago and will miss at least four to six weeks.
Minnis spent two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, but missed much of 2002 with a broken toe on his right foot. He was one of the Chiefs' final roster cuts last month.
The 6-foot-1 Minnis had 33 catches for 511 yards and one touchdown as a rookie but had just one catch last season.
The Bucs (2-1) re-signed wide receiver Charles Lee last week, but waived him Tuesday when they added Minnis.
Parker to miss rest of season
SAN DIEGO San Diego Chargers right tackle Vaughn Parker had surgery Tuesday to repair torn ligaments in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season.
Parker, a 10-year veteran, tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in Sunday's loss to Baltimore. He had arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday.
Parker is expected to be placed on injured reserve later this week, when the Chargers can replace him on the roster.
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