‘Freaky’ rookie impresses Browns

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2000

The Associated Press

BEREA – Just two weeks into his first NFL training camp, defensive end Courtney Brown has been described many ways.

Tuesday, July 25, 2000

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BEREA – Just two weeks into his first NFL training camp, defensive end Courtney Brown has been described many ways. He’s fast. He’s strong. He’s tough … smart … polite … quiet.

And now, a new tag.

”There are freaks and then there are freaks,” said Browns tight end Mark Campbell. ”Courtney Brown is a freak. He’s killing people whenever he wants.”

With almost every snap in practice, Brown, Cleveland’s No. 1 draft pick, seemingly turns in a play that makes the crowd cheer or one that sends shivers through his teammates’ and coaches’ spines.

Coming off the ball during Monday morning’s practice, he put a 360-degree spin move on Roger Chanoine and went past the backup tackle like he was standing still.

Earlier in camp, Brown used his brute strength to manhandle Campbell.

”I came off as fast as I could and he still pushed me back about two yards,” Campbell said.

Brown has jumped over would-be blockers, swatted down passes and chased down running backs from behind. He’s made offensive lineman look silly with a variety of moves.

”He’s everything that he was advertised to be and maybe even a little bit more,” said Browns coach Chris Palmer, who’s had trouble hiding his smile when speaking of Brown.

And while everyone in the Browns’ organization has something to say about Brown, the 6-foot-4, 266-pounder seems unfazed by it all.

”I’ve still got a lot of things to learn,” he said.

Brown’s NFL education moved into a higher phase during the weekend, when he made his pro debut against Indianapolis right tackle Adam Meadows, who protects Colts quarterback Peyton Manning for a living.

Brown, who is expected to play both end positions, more than held his own against Meadows, once beating him badly during a pass-rush drill.

”He probably has more tools for a young guy than I’ve seen in a while,” said Meadows, a four-year vet. ”I’ve seen the older defensive ends plays. He’s got speed, quickness and strength. He’s got all the ability. As long as he keeps working, it’s scary how good he’s going to be. He’s going to be one of the best in the NFL.”

Manning, too, was impressed.

”You see right away,” Manning said. ”He’s a very special player.”

Brown said Saturday’s scrimmage was an eye-opener for him and much different from anything he’s experienced in the NFL thus far.

”You could tell right away the intensity level was higher,” Brown said.

”I know that I’m always going to have to be prepared and be ready for anything.”

After using their top pick last year on QB Tim Couch, the Browns switched their focus to the defensive future when they signed Brown to a seven-year deal which can earn him $45 million.

They ignored the critics who said Brown was too small to go against 280-pound lineman. The Browns liked everything they saw in Brown – his size, strength and, maybe above all, attitude.

”He’s got all the tools and he’s coachable,” said defensive end Derrick Alexander. ”He listens to the coaches. He’s very attentive and loves what he does.”

Alexander, beginning his seventh pro season, has seen enough of Brown to know he is witnessing potential greatness.

”I don’t know when the switch is going to go from just learning to domination,” said Alexander. ”But he’s got his finger on it. He’s going to dominate someday.”

After practice, Brown’s locker is a magnet for TV camera crews and reporters, who strain to hear what the humble 22-year-old, nicknamed ”The Quiet Storm” at Penn State, has to say.

Brown doesn’t gloat, preferring to take a personal compliment and turn it into one for the team.

It’s a quality that’s already earned him praise in Cleveland’s locker room.

”The thing I like about him is that he’s such a good kid,” said offensive guard Jim Pyne. ”He’s unbelievable on the field, but once he comes off, he’s just quiet and to himself. He’s not shooting his mouth off. He’s got it all.”

At least one of Brown’s teammates wouldn’t mind if the kid occasionally opened his mouth.

”I just wish he’d talk a little more,” said tackle Stalin Colinet. ”Give me a little ‘Hey, Stalin’ once in a while just so I know you’re alive.”

Notes: Rookie TE Aaron Shea has moved ahead of Mark Campbell on the depth chart and will start this week’s exhibition opener at home against Philadelphia. Palmer is most impressed with Shea’s speed and ablility to stretch defenses. … Hall of Famer Lou Groza attended the afternoon session. … Of the 89 players on the Browns’ roster for the 1999 preseason opener, only 38 are still with the team. … CB Corey Fuller and DL Keith McKenzie were kept out of Monday’s afternoon session. Fuller has a rib-cage problem and McKenzie has a slightly twisted ankle. Palmer expects both to practice Tuesday. … FB Terry Kirby practiced for the first time in a week since fracturing two bones around his eye in a blocking drill. Kirby will not play against the Eagles and can not have contact until Aug. 2.