One would think that Butch Davis had seen enough of RB Dee Brown.
On December 1, 2002, Brown nearly ran Davis' team out of the playoffs,
rambling 122 yards on 27 carries to lead the Carolina Panthers to a 13-6 win
over the Browns.
At the time, the Browns appeared to be heading into the playoffs for the
first time in the expansion era, whereas the Panthers were reeling. Carolina had
lost eight in a row coming into the battle with Cleveland, and was losing
players left and right to injuries and off-the-field problems.
Brown got the start that day because regular starting running back Lamar Smith was given personal leave.
While the game looked like a sure Browns win on paper, the results on the
field of play were quite different. The Browns self-destructed, with Tim Couch
leading the way on a dismal 12-of-27, 130-yard passing performance.
While the Browns were going nowhere, Dee Brown exploded. The Panthers back
had his longest career run, 24 yards, but it was one of his shortest runs which
turned the game in the Panthers favor. With 5:39 remaining in the contest, Brown
took advantage of a missed tackle by Robert Griffith to convert a crucial
fourth-and-one situation, and allowed the Panthers to burn the clock down.
Unfortunately for the running back, that one memorable game amounts to over a
third of the yards he has gained in the NFL.
In the final three games of the 2002 season, Brown didn't surprise any
defenses, and managed only 119 yards on 48 attempts the rest of the
season, an average of only 2.48 yards per carry.
The Browns, meanwhile, managed to squeak back into the playoffs via a
thrilling season-ending finale against the Falcons.
Brown didn't get a single carry during the 2003 season.
When the John Fox era started in Carolina, Dee Brown found himself cut at the
end of the Panthers 2003 training camp. A roster casualty on September 1st,
Brown wound up in Pittsburgh following an injury to running back Verron Hayes
and appeared in the final two games of the season without carrying the football.
Brown's stay with the Atlanta Falcons earlier this year was even shorter, as
he was signed on April 30th, and waived about three weeks later, on May 17th.
With the hamstring injury to James Jackson, however, the Browns decided to
take a chance on Brown and contacted his agent over the weekend.
The team wasted no time getting him into action, as Brown participated with
the team today and got a number of touches with the second unit. Brown told us
that he felt comfortable jumping into action with the Browns quickly, and is
looking forward to learning the the Browns offense.
The Browns, meanwhile, hope that there is something about Northern Ohio that
turns Dee Brown into a top-flight running back. Starting on Sunday, they will
get to find out.