Brown making big noise for Browns

Updated: October 16, 2003, 3:54 PM ET

BEREA, Ohio -- As the Browns' second-team offense breaks the practice huddle, tackle Joaquin Gonzalez heads toward the line of scrimmage in a slow trot.

He's in no hurry. Gonzalez is about to face one of his worst fears.

Awaiting him is Courtney Brown, all 6-foot-4, 280 pounds of rippling muscle, breathtaking quickness and frightening potential.

And each time he meets Cleveland's massive defensive end, Gonzalez has the same reaction.

"He's a beast," Gonzalez said. "I'm just glad he's on my team."

And for the first time in a long time, the Browns are, too.

Brown, the 2000 No. 1 overall draft pick from Penn State who has been largely a bust during his three injury-filled seasons with the Browns, is having his best year in the NFL. The Quiet Storm is making big noise -- finally.

Through six games, Brown has a career-high five sacks, getting two in a nationally televised win two weeks ago at Pittsburgh that served notice he was fully recovered from major offseason knee surgery.

"He's had to battle through injuries and he's starting to feel much more comfortable with his knee," Gonzalez said. "He's only going to improve from here. Week in and week out he's getting better."

On one amazing play against the Steelers, Brown showcased his full complement of speed, strength and savvy.

While fighting through tackle Todd Fordham's block, Brown reached back to strip the ball away from Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox before pouncing on it to set up a field goal that gave the Browns a 10-0 lead.

"It's a thing of beauty to watch him play," safety Earl Little said. "He's just destroying guys."

The Browns weren't sure what to expect this season from Brown, who never got on track last season and came into this year having missed 16 games the past two seasons with injuries.

He ended 2002 with just two sacks and on injured reserve before undergoing microfracture knee surgery in January.

Browns coach Butch Davis began this season with his fingers crossed. Now, he's not so worried.

"There's no reason to believe that he will reinjure his knee," Davis said. "He's strong. He's healthy, and he's young. There is no residual effect. It's not like he has had five or six surgeries and there's a worry about arthritis.

"I was apprehensive during training camp that he would get off to a good start. But I haven't even thought about it for the last five or six weeks."

While Brown has stepped up his game, nothing else has changed about him.

Brown is as quiet, humble and unassuming as they come. He hasn't talked to reporters since training camp in July, but it's not because of any media boycott. Brown just prefers to let his play do the talking. He celebrated a sack of Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon last week by gently pumping his fists.

You won't catch Brown wielding a Sharpie.

After being chosen AFC Defensive Player of the Week following his performance in Pittsburgh, Brown released a statement through the team saying he was grateful for the award.

Because Brown won't talk about himself, defensive end Kenard Lang is doing it for him. In the past few weeks, Lang has served as his teammate's designated spokesman and promoter.

Recently, Lang lashed out at those who have criticized Brown for not playing with enough passion. Nonsense, he says.

"He doesn't say much, so what?" Lang said. "He's the Quiet Storm. Everybody is trying to figure him out. 'Why is he quiet? Why doesn't he show any fire?' That's just his personality.

"He's just focused. People can't read him. But what is there to know? He plays football. He doesn't act crazed with all kinds of hooting and hollering like a wild man. As long as you produce, that's all that matters."

And that's all the Browns have been waiting for.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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