Jamir Miller's contract situation isn't improving, which means that coach Butch Davis is making contingency plans.
Davis has thought about what life will be on defense without Miller, the only Brown to make the Pro Bowl since the team's return to the NFL in 1999. As the team finishes up a 14-day quarterback school and is preparing for a minicamp next week, Davis isn't happy that Miller isn't on hand at this time.
"It's hard for me to believe that you can not be here and just stroll right back in and not miss a beat," Davis said. "The six or seven months leading up to last season, Jamir was here and was focused and didn't miss one single thing, and subsequently he had a phenomenal year. We put packages in that showcased what he can do.
"Now we have to be prepared that he might not be here. He indicated that he will be here next week. Hopefully, we can work something out so that he can be on the team next year. It's business, but it's a part of the business that I don't really like."
Miller attended the voluntary minicamp in late April. He indicated at the time that he wants to renegotiate the four-year contract he signed during the 1999 season, which secured his services with the Browns through the 2003 season.
"We talked a little about the contract, and he said he wanted to be professional and not take it personal," Davis said. "I also told him that there will come a point in time - and I can't pick a calendar date when that will be - when it won't become personal but it will become business.
"We've got to get someone ready to start the opening game of the season, whether it's him or somebody else. I can't jeopardize the chances of the other 52 players on this team to win. I have an obligation for everybody on this football team to be ready to play."
Davis singled out the quarterback-school showing of rookie linebacker Ben Taylor. Taylor has been practicing at Miller's spot on the strong side. Lenoy Jones, Brant Boyer and Marquis Smith have also spent time there, and Davis indicated that weak-side linebacker Dwayne Rudd could be moved to the strong side, if needed.
"Courtney Brown went down and missed virtually the entire (2001) season. Until he got better we played well without Courtney," Davis said. "We would have loved to have had Courtney all of last season, but whether someone is here or not here, hopefully we have a team that is strong enough to withstand losing anybody."
FEELING FINE: Ross Verba made sure to tell reporters that he doesn't have a serious chest injury. The offensive tackle was reportedly in bad physical shape last week. ESPN's John Clayton reported that Verba suffered a pectoral injury lifting weights and might miss significant time.
Speculation arose that the injury might have been a torn pectoral, which would have required surgery that would have forced Verba to miss the entire season. A media report last Sunday stated that the injury wasn't a tear, but that Verba would need four to six weeks of rehabilitation.
"I had a MRI, and everything was negative. It's still sore, but it's feeling better and better," said Verba, who's penciled in to start at left tackle. "I got lucky. It was one of those things."
ALMOST THERE: Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon indicated that his agent, Marvin Demhoff, is close to securing a deal with the Browns. McCutcheon, a three-year veteran, is a restricted free agent. Since the Browns made the necessary qualifying offers to him, they have exclusive negotiating rights with him.
McCutcheon is disappointed that a deal wasn't finalized sooner. He admittedly felt unwanted for awhile.
"If you're a part of a business and you're a priority, you'd think it (the contract) is something they would want to get done soon," McCutcheon said. "I was just disappointed because I thought I wasn't a priority. I sat down with coach (Butch) Davis a couple times, and he told me different and that he expected me to be here for awhile. All I can do is have faith in him and take him at his word."
LOOKING GOOD: Among players Davis singled out for showing improvement since last season is center Dave Wohlabaugh.
"Dave probably has benefited as much as anybody from the strength-and-conditioning program," Davis said. "He looks stronger, quicker and more physical."
ROOKIE IMPACT: One rookie who continues to catch the attention of coaches is second-round pick Andre Davis. He's competing for playing time opposite receiver Kevin Johnson.
"Not one day goes by when he doesn't do something that makes you say, 'Wow!' "Davis said. Davis likes what he's seen of first-round pick William Green, who's competing at running back.
JUST LOOKING: The Browns appear to be doing nothing but window shopping when looking at the list of players released after June 1 for salary-cap purposes. Davis indicated that it's doubtful the team will sign any of the latest wave of free agents.