Courtney's status far from clear

If you believe the Browns' injury report, you'd be convinced that defensive end Courtney Brown won't play Sunday against New England.

If you believe coach Butch Davis, you'd think that Brown might be available for the game.

The injury report lists Brown as doubtful. Davis wan't quite as pessimistic after Wednesday's practice, although Brown didn't participate in the session.

"I would say that it's questionable that he will play this week, but it's a lot better than that day after the game when they thought it was a possible severe high-ankle sprain," Davis said. "It was reported that it might be as long as four weeks, but it certainly won't be that long. I would say that it's a reasonable, small chance for this week and then a significant, greater chance for next week."

Brown injured the ankle on the first series of plays against Tennessee last Sunday. He was carted off the field for X-rays that were negative.

The defensive end positions have been hit hard by injuries all season. Keith McKenzie broke an ankle against Chicago on Nov. 4, the same game in which Brown returned from his knee injury.

"We've had to be resilient," Davis said. "We've had Keith and Courtney gone, and we had Gerard (Warren) gone for a game. Tyrone Rogers has stepped up for us. You have to give some of those guys credit. As a group, they're going to stir it up, rally around and keep playing."

INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Tarek Saleh (hip) is out. Free safety Percy Ellsworth (quadriceps) and receiver Jammi German (knee) are questionable. Running back James Jackson (ankle) is probable.

"I was out there running around this morning, and coach said to slow down, slow down," said Jackson, who reported no soreness on back-to-back days for the first time in several weeks. Davis said he wasn't the coach who told Jackson to slow down.

"I never tell people to slow it down," Davis said.

For New England, receiver Charles Johnson (flu) and defensive end Willie McGinest (leg) are questionable.

UNHAPPY QB: Quarterback Tim Couch cancelled his usual Wednesday chat session with reporters. Couch apparently wasn't pleased with a newspaper column in which it was suggested that he should sit down with a Mountain Dew and be asked if he thinks the Browns have enough trash talkers.

Couch's message to reporters through the public-relations staff was, "Tell them that I'm in the players' meeting room, drinking a Mountain Dew and trash talking."

ROSTER MOVE: Tight end Chris Eitzmann was signed to the practice squad, replacing Shonn Bell, who was signed last week. Eitzmann was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by New England in April of 2000.

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