The change came early than expected _ it's

By David Carducci Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The change came early than expected _ it's just not a permanent change.

Coach Chris Palmer said he would start the No. 1 pick Saturday when the Browns open the new Cleveland Browns Stadium by hosting the Minnesota Vikings in the team's third preseason game.

While Couch takes the helm this weekend, Detmer is expected to reclaim the starting job in the fourth week of the preseason when the Browns face the Chicago Bears at home.

The switch is designed to allow Couch the chance to play more with the first unit, and allow Detmer the opportunity to work in the two-minute offense, most likely in the fourth quarter.

According to Palmer, the starting unit will play the entire first half against the Vikings, with Couch playing the first two quarters.

"Ty would still be the starting quarterback if we opened the season (today)," said Palmer.

That means it is likely that Detmer will be the opening-day quarterback when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to Cleveland Sept. 12 for the first game of the regular season.

By giving Couch an opportunity to play behind the starting offensive line, Palmer will have an opportunity to gauge how far the rookie quarterback has come in learning the offense.

Couch never had an opportunity to display his progress Saturday in Tampa Bay as the team's second-string offensive line struggled against the speedy Bucs' defense.

"Tim never had a chance," Palmer said after Saturday's game. "We missed too many assignments up front."

Palmer said Detmer will return to the No. 1 job against Chicago Aug. 28 when the Browns "try to settle down and play the people we'll open the season with."

Eight players were released Monday in the Browns' first cut of training camp.

Heading the list of casualties was Kory Blackwell, a second-year defensive back who was taken in the expansion draft from the roster of the New York Giants.

Blackwell's release comes as no surprise following a dismal performance in the fourth quarter Saturday at Tampa Bay when he was called for two pass interference penalties. Both infractions led to Buccaneers' scores.

Former Ohio State linebacker Jerry Rudzinsky was also cut, as was defensive end Rod Manuel, linebacker David Menard, defensive back Eric Stokes, and wide receivers Sylvain Girard, Joseph Nastasi and Mark Seay.

Derrick Alexander, who has been practicing for nearly a week since being removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list, hopes to return to action Saturday against the Vikings. Alexander, who signed as a free agent with the Browns in the offseason, was a member of last year's Minnesota team that lost in the NFC Championship game.

Wide receiver Leslie Shepherd (groin) and cornerback Antonio Langham (knee) are expected to play Saturday after missing the first two preseason games with injuries.

Third-string tight end Ryan Collins should also return to action, after missing Saturday's game in Tampa due to an injured shoulder.

Three starting positions remain up for grabs.

Along with the starting quarterback position, where Detmer is still ahead of Couch, the starting right guard and free safety positions remain unsettled.

Orlando Bobo will start Saturday at right guard. He has been alternating series with Scott Rehberg, who started Saturday at Tampa Bay.

Marlon Forbes is competing with Tim McTyer at free safety. During mini-camp, Forbes was listed as the starter at strong safety. He switched to free safety at the start of training camp, flipping positions with Marquez Pope.

Forbes than lost the starting job at free safety going into the

preseason opener with Dallas, only to regain the spot a week later after

a poor series of practices by McTyer.

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