Brown must overcome injuries again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2003

BEREA -- Another training camp, another return from a season-ending injury for Courtney Brown.

For the second straight season, the Cleveland defensive end has to show whether he can recover and finally prove he was worth a No. 1 overall draft pick.

Brown's comeback from a knee injury took another step forward Monday as he participated in full-team drills for the first time.

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''It's a great feeling to see him out there on the field,'' defensive tackle Gerard Warren said. ''He's back out there. He's ready to go at 100 percent. They're bringing him back at a steady pace, but I think he's ready to go full throttle.''

Brown, who has been closely monitored throughout training camp, has missed 16 games the past two seasons because of injuries.

His 2002 season ended prematurely when he injured his left knee, eventually requiring microfracture surgery -- a radical procedure that involves holes being drilled into the knee to promote cartilage growth.

Brown practiced with the second-team defense Monday morning, but did not participate in afternoon practice.

He got outside his blocker on one play and quickly reached the quarterback. It was a brief reminder of why the 6-foot-4, 280-pounder was drafted No. 1 in 2000.

''He seemed to do very good,'' Browns coach Butch Davis said. ''We'll just kind of judge it every two or three days and see if we can add more things to it and hopefully get him closer … to play in a preseason game or regular-season game.''

Brown recorded 33 sacks at Penn State. In three seasons with the Browns he has only 11 sacks in 32 games, and six of those sacks came in two games.

Knee, ankle and neck injuries have prevented Brown from playing a full season since his rookie year.

''I definitely have high expectations of myself and I'm excited to go out and fill those expectations this year,'' Brown said earlier in camp.

Warren, who pledged before training camp to change his partying habits so he could prove he was worth a No. 3 overall pick, said he has no doubt that Brown will be a factor on Cleveland's defense this season.

''He's going to come back,'' Warren said. ''All that does is add to this defense.''

Defensive end Kenard Lang said Brown wants to prove the critics wrong.

''Knowing Courtney, that's what he's trying to do, go out there and play hard, make plays and get ready for the first game of the season,'' Lang said.

Although a quarterback controversy has received most of the attention at training camp, Cleveland's defense has even more players competing for jobs.

With an open competition among several young players at linebacker and some holes in the secondary, the line will be looked upon to lead the defense.

''We want to make some noise. We want to prove a point,'' Warren said. ''We want to try to carry this team. That's the kind of pressure we put on ourselves.''

NOTES: Davis said he knows which quarterback will start in Saturday's preseason game at Tennessee, but would not reveal who it will be. … QBs Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb looked sharp in practice Monday, particularly Couch in hitting several receivers on deep routes. … DB Michael Jameson received plenty of reps with the first-team defense Monday while S Robert Griffith is out with a broken finger. … Upon further review, director of officiating Mike Pereira said that throwing a helmet still will be considered unsportsmanlike conduct this season. Referee Walt Anderson had said last week that the helmet rule was changed to a dead-ball foul, meaning that it would only be enforced if there is time left on the clock. But Pereira said Monday that there was no rule change.