CLEVELAND - Charlie Frye returned to a familiar place but in unfamiliar surroundings this weekend.
The Willard native who began this season as Cleveland's starting quarterback entered the visiting locker room Sunday as the Seattle Seahawks' third-string QB when the two teams battled at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
"I've never been in here before," Frye said following the Browns' 33-30 overtime win. "Being here as an away team is a little weird for me and probably also for Brian (Russell, a Seahawks safety and another former Brown). But it's just the way it goes and you just have to adapt and keep on rolling."
Frye did not play Sunday as Seattle starter Matt Hasselbeck went the distance.
After enjoying stellar football careers at Willard High School and the University of Akron, Frye entered the NFL in 2005 as a third-round pick of the Browns. Cleveland then began grooming him as their quarterback-of-the-future, having him start the final five games of his rookie season a dream-come-true for a lifelong Browns fan.
But last year, an injury-ravaged offensive line led to a tumultuous season. Frye also missed some games due to injury, and that allowed backup Derek Anderson to shine in relief. Then the Browns drafted Notre Dame's Brady Quinn in the first round of this year's draft, meaning neither Frye nor Anderson were in their long-term plans.
Frye retaining his job by edging out Anderson and Quinn in training camp, but a bad start in the season-opener against Pittsburgh led to Frye being benched and then traded two days later for a sixth-round draft choice.
"You're a quarterback that goes from the starting quarterback and you go into this place and now you're the third quarterback while learning a brand new system," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren told reporters in a conference call last week. "But I couldn't be more pleased with where he is. He's a great young man. He really has a great work ethic. He's learned our stuff in relatively a short period of time not all of it but enough to go in and play in a game enough so that I can free up (backup quarterback) Seneca Wallace to do some other things.
"But I also know it's hard when you've been the starter and now all of a sudden you're watching," Holmgren added. "There is a transition period where you're kind of grouchy about everything. But he's handled it so well. I really like him a lot."
The 2000 Willard High School graduate and son of Dave and Sally Frye did not want to discuss the trade with reporters Sunday. "It's just an awkward time to talk about these things right now with what just happened with the game," he said.
After Anderson took over, the Browns' offense has become one of the league's best. The team owns a 5-3 record a surprising mark considering Cleveland has endured four straight losing seasons.
"I was really impressed with Cleveland's offense," Frye said. "The most impressive part was probably the offensive line, the way they came together early in the season and have been able to protect and hold up and give Derek time to look downfield. They have some playmakers. Kellen (Winslow) and Braylon (Edwards) I don't think you can find a better combination."
Frye said he has no ill-will toward Anderson, with whom he talks about once a week.
"Derek is my boy," Frye said. "He's been with me for 2 1/2 years. I'm happy for him and all those guys. You don't stop being friends with somebody because you got traded. It's not like that."
Frye said he had no divided loyalties while watch the game from the sidelines.
"I'm a Seahawk now," Frye said.