Derek Anderson was the quarterback Cleveland didn't want.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Derek Anderson was the quarterback Cleveland didn't want.
Almost from the day the Browns drafted Brady Quinn in the first round of the 2007 draft, Cleveland's yell-til-it-hurts fans called for him to be their starter and savior.
Quinn, not Anderson, was the one who got the national TV ad campaign - long before he became a starter.
Even Cleveland's coaches didn't seem to know what to do with the two quarterbacks, rotating them in and out like a whack-a-mole game.
So, by the time Anderson's five-year career in Cleveland came to an end, he felt like there was a mantra playing in his head: Brady, Brady, Brady.
"Every day was frustrating, at times," Anderson said.
Finally, Anderson can stop looking over his shoulder.
Released by the Browns during the offseason, Anderson signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. He came onboard to serve as Matt Leinart's backup, but has made it a closer-than-expected competition with Leinart having a so-so training camp.
Regardless of whether he supplants Leinart as Arizona's starter or serves as a ready-to-go backup, Anderson is glad to be done with Cleveland and the Quinn drama, ready to move on to a clean slate.
"It wasn't the most enjoyable situation I've ever been in, but I've learned a lot and it made me a
better player and a better person," he said.
The appeal of Arizona to Anderson was easy: a fresh start for a team two years removed from the Super Bowl with a merry-go-round full of talented receivers.
The Cardinals wanted Anderson because of his experience, a player who could push Leinart to get better, take over if he doesn't.
They got an added bonus, too.
The extroverted Anderson has kept the Cardinals loose with his pedal-to-the-floor personality, mockingly showing receivers how to run routes, diving on balls during drills, making always-boring meetings not seem quite so dull.
"A.D.D., man," Leinart joked after being asked what Anderson's personality has added to the quarterback group. "He's a character. He's got a unique personality. We're all very similar in age and it makes it fun for us as a group. He's just Derek. He's got a fun personality, is just all over the place like that."
It's been more than good-natured goofiness.
Leinart has a big head start on Arizona's system going into his fifth season playing under it, but Anderson has worked hard to close the gap.
Behind that make-everyone-laugh personality is an intense worker, a former sixth-round draft pick who took himself from the scrap heap in Baltimore to the Pro Bowl in 2007. The Cardinals saw some of Anderson's work ethic and eagerness to get things right during offseason workouts and he's accelerated it since training camp started.
"His willingness to work, especially in some of the details of what he needs to do to improve," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said of what he's learned about Anderson. "He's made great progress with that in the past few weeks. He hears you, he processes it and he's working on things."
Anderson also has a freedom he hasn't experienced since Quinn's heralded arrival in 2007.
In Arizona, he can just go out and play and be himself.
"When you've been somewhere for so long, it's time for a change no matter what your job is," Anderson said. "It was time and I'm happy to be here."