Courtney's status up in the air

The Browns are remaining tight-lipped about Courtney Brown's high-ankle sprain.

Brown suffered the injury on the first series of the game against Tennessee. He was carted off the field for X-rays that were negative. Brown was to have more tests performed Monday to determine the extent of the injury.

"It might not be as bad as first thought," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "It will certainly be a day-by-day or week-by-week thing."

High-ankle sprains are difficult injuries to bounce back from quickly. If Brown's sprain is considered severe, it's possible that he might not play again this season. He is wearing a boot to limit mobility, and it won't be known until Wednesday if there's any chance that he might play against New England.

With Brown down and Keith McKenzie out for the season with a broken ankle, Davis was forced to move tackle Mark Smith to an end against the Titans. Considering he hadn't played the position this season, Smith held up well.

"I give him a tremendous amount of credit having not practiced at the position for knowing the game plan," Davis said. "He went in and played well. If that's the way we'll have to go, then that's the way we'll have to go."

NOT HAPPY: The fact the Browns have a 6-5 record is of little solace to Davis after the 31-15 loss to the Titans.

"I want to get better," Davis said. "I want to see improvement by players. In the next five weeks I want to see guys that are struggling gain some confidence and get better in their fundamentals and techniques. This season is about this season, but I want them to lay the foundation for next season."

HELPING HAND: When Davis decided to replace Tim Couch with Kelly Holcomb early in the fourth quarter, he made the call partially to keep Couch healthy. Couch was knocked woozy when hit on the chin by teammate Ross Verba.

"When it got to that possession in the fourth quarter, we made a decision that if we had great field position we probably would have left Tim in," Davis said. "If it was field position that we needed 60 or 70 yards to go, we were going to put Kelly in.

"I think it's very important that Tim be able to survive and get through this season. To put him out there when the only thing the defense was going to do was blitz and try to put pressure on the quarterback, I think it would have been stupid to leave him out there and take some unnecessary hits."

INJURY UPDATE: Tarek Saleh, who missed last Sunday's game with a deep bruise in the thigh area of his left leg, doesn't expect to play against New England. He was walking with the assistance of a crutch on Monday. Saleh, who had a quart of blood drained from the leg last week, expects to play against Jacksonville on Dec. 16.

Running back James Jackson said he could have played if needed against Tennessee, but he sat out the game. Jackson, who has had trouble with an ankle injury, thinks he'll be able to play next Sunday.

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