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Brown Spends the Day at Redskins Park

By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 18, 2005; Page D02

Free agent defensive end Courtney Brown spent most of the day yesterday at Redskins Park as his visit with the Redskins ended.

Brown, a 6-foot-4, 290-pounder who has missed 33 games over the past four seasons, took a physical, which was expected to determine whether Washington would offer him a contract.


Defensive end Courtney Brown, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft, recently was released by Cleveland and is a highly coveted free agent. (Tony Dejak -- AP)


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"We're [still] interested," Coach Joe Gibbs said at the team's facility, "so we'll see."

Gibbs declined to provide further details, except to say that Washington wouldn't announce a signing last night.

"The best way for me to say it is we just had a good visit," Gibbs said, "and [he] took a physical, and kind of went through a process there. We'll just work through the rest of it. I don't think there's anything imminent."

Brown -- who according to sources planned to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks -- was to leave Washington today. He did not return a call seeking comment last night.

Brown met some Redskins players and had lunch with defensive tackle Brandon Noble, who played with Brown at Penn State in 1996. Noble, who was a fifth-year senior when Brown was a freshman, appeared at Redskins Park yesterday only to help court Brown. The defensive linemen spent about 30 minutes talking in the facility's cafeteria.

"I came by to say hi," Noble said. "I know Courtney. He's a standup guy. He'd fit in well in this locker room. He's had some bad luck with some injuries. I can appreciate that. He's had more than most people deserve. And I think a fresh start would be good. And I'd love to have him do it here.

"I told him that this is a team going in the right direction, and it's a good group of guys. It's fun to come to work. . . . I tried to sell him a little bit on it. We'll see what happens."

Brown also spoke for several minutes with defensive end Phillip Daniels when their paths crossed in the trainer's room. Daniels, who started five games last season because of a broken wrist and groin pull, expressed excitement that Washington was pursuing Brown. Although Brown has been a starter when healthy, Daniels noted that Gregg Williams, the assistant head coach-defense, heavily rotates linemen to keep them fresh. Daniels said he told Brown that the Redskins had the best defensive coaches in the NFL.

"He needed to hear those things," Daniels said. "He's trying to resurrect his career. The best place to be is here with coaches like Greg Blache [defensive coordinator-defensive line] and Gregg Williams."

Brown, the top overall pick in the 2000 draft, played all 16 games in his rookie season. However, Brown has finished every year since on the injured reserve list, and has had four operations. Last year, in Week 2 at the Dallas Cowboys, Brown tore a Lisfranc ligament in his left foot. Screws recently were removed from the foot, although he has not yet fully recovered from the injury. After the initial surgery last fall, Brown was projected to be healthy by April.

Cleveland released Brown, 27, on Monday after he declined a substantial pay cut and the Browns' medical staff reportedly informed the NFL that Brown had failed a season-ending physical. Still, Gibbs and Blache flew into Cleveland to meet with Brown and his wife, Candace, only hours after his release.

Although Cleveland has said that it would like to re-sign him, sources familiar with the situation said Brown intends to find a new team.

Brown made his first visit with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to a source, Denver -- which has about $1 million under the cap compared with Washington's roughly $2 million -- didn't make a firm offer.

Redskins guard Randy Thomas said he understands Washington's enthusiasm for Brown, and believes that his talent is worth the risk.

"Injuries are unpredictable," Thomas said. "Some guys can start a string of being injury-prone this year. And he may not be hurt seriously for the next five years. He's still young. And it would be nice to have him on the team."


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