Can Brown avoid injury?
By JOE VARDON
Daily Record Sports Writer
BEREA - There is usually a spot on the sideline
reserved for Cleveland's Courtney Brown.
Call it bad luck, freak occurrences or brittle
body parts, Brown has been unable to stay healthy
in each of his last three seasons. He played in
just five games in 2001 because of knee and ankle
injuries, then was absent for eight games over
the next two years with other ailments.
Brown has spent the last two days of training
camp back on the sideline with sore knees, but
Cleveland's defensive end is begging fans not to
worry. He plans to return to the field today to
work toward what he hopes will be his first
injury-free season since his rookie year.
"I'm fine," Brown said yesterday. "We just want
to make sure everything is all right. I want to
get back out there and practice real soon."
As long as he's healthy and in uniform for the
Browns' season opener against the Baltimore
Ravens on Sept. 12, Cleveland could care less
when he gets back to practice. Brown's teammates
have already seen enough of him in camp to know
why Cleveland drafted him with the No. 1 overall
pick of the 2000 NFL Draft.
He consistently shows off his talents in
practice, blowing up the rhythm of the offense by
bull-rushing toward the quarterback or stuffing
"He's a beast," Browns right tackle Ryan Tucker
said. "I know I'm getting a lot better playing
Brown has one particular move that leaves all of
his teammates in awe of his power. He jams either
of the long arms on his 6-foot-4 frame into the
chests of even the biggest lineman, knocking them
off balance on his way to the quarterback.
Kenard Lang, who lines up on the opposite side of
Brown on Cleveland's defensive front, doubts few
can use the "stiff arm" to their advantage like
"He can drive Tucker (6-6, 320) back with that
stiff arm," Lang said. "He does it so easy and
effortless. He's like a freak of nature. He's
done some things I've never seen anyone else do
The problem for Brown has been his inability to
stay healthy enough to show opponents those
A ruptured biceps tendon ended Brown's season in
2003, a year in which he had already set a career
high with six sacks. Cartilage damage in his knee
forced him out of the final four games of 2002,
just one season after another knee injury and a
sprained ankle cost him 11 games.
Brown's health issues caused some to wonder if
his body would ever be able to withstand the
rigors of an NFL season again. Cleveland itself
had some of those same thoughts cross its mind,
signing defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban as an
insurance policy this offseason.
Instead of dwelling on what has happened to him
in the recent past, Brown came to camp to try to
build what could still be a bright future.
"It's been tough, but (injuries) are something
I've had to overcome," Brown said. "But I can't
focus on those things any more. Right now, I
still feel like I have enough football in me
where I can go out and play well if I'm healthy."
For Cleveland's defense to improve, Brown has to
be on the field and playing up to his enormous
potential. His teammates aren't wishing Brown
better luck solely for the betterment of
Cleveland's defensive unit - they're sincerely
rooting for a guy they've grown to respect.
"I'd rather see him do well than myself," Lang
said. "I'd rather him taste success than salt
like every other year.
"I give him credit for being a strong man through
all of this. I've never heard him complain or cry
through any of this. We respect a man like that."