Brown picks spot to shine Ravens: Linebacker Cornell Brown, a sixth-round selection in the June draft, has made the most of filling in for unsigned first-round choice Peter Boulware.


Ravens rookie outside linebacker Cornell Brown doesn't read newspapers, but he does take a quick peek at ESPN's "SportsCenter" every morning.

"It's nothing that I'm overly concerned about, but I do watch to see if he [Peter Boulware] signed and is coming in today," said Brown, smiling.

Boulware, the Florida State defensive end and the Ravens' top draft pick, continued his holdout into the 11th day of training camp. Ravens officials reported no significant progress in the negotiations yesterday.

Meanwhile, the player who works in Boulware's spot continues to make a name for himself at camp. He may not be Peter Boulware, but being Cornell Brown is not bad, either.

"He is a tough kid. He is a football player," coach Ted Marchibroda said after the team's morning workout. "He gives everything that he has. He has done a fine job here as a linebacker. We like his attitude, his football temperament. He plays every play; he plays hard."

Brown, 6 feet 1 and 245 pounds, was the Ravens' sixth-round pick out of Virginia Tech. He's heard all the talk about Boulware. But Brown also knows this is a great opportunity, and so far he has made the best of it.

At times, he even looked better than Boulware when the top pick was in for two previous minicamps. Both players are making the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker.

Brown seems more comfortable playing pass defense, his quick feet and change of direction allowing him to drop back in the passing lanes.

As for his ability to pressure the quarterback, Marchibroda said, "We have to see how he is as a pass rusher. He did a good job of that in college."

Boulware had 32 sacks in 13 career starts in college, including 19 in his final season to lead the nation. Brown totaled 40 sacks in his career at Virginia Tech, drawing comparisons to alumnus Bruce Smith, the Buffalo Bills' defensive end.

Offensive tackle Orlando Brown has gone against both rookies, but not against Boulware in full pads.

"The difference in the two players is that you lose quickness when you don't have Boulware," Orlando Brown said. "But Cornell will work you, always coming hard. He brings it, man. He has improved a lot since he has been here.

"At first, he was just a bull rusher. But now he has learned a little spin move. Cornell has good speed, too. With his work ethic, he can be a quality player in this league."

Brown already has an older brother in this league. Ruben won consensus NFL all-rookie honors for the Bills as a left guard in 1995.

Brown sought his advice coming into training camp.

"It's tough getting up in the middle of July when you're not used to having practice until August," Cornell Brown said. "He told me everything to expect, the long days and hard work."

It has been hard, but in some ways easier. Replacing Boulware on the first unit has given Brown twice the repetitions. Brown probably will get a double workload in the scrimmage against the Philadelphia Eagles tomorrow, and a sense of urgency may arrive soon if Boulware doesn't sign.

"I understand the situation; he is the person they want at this position," Brown said of Boulware. "At the same time I have to let them know that if there is an injury or something else, they can be comfortable with me playing the position. I want Peter to come in because that increases the competition and it will make me a better player.

"Marvin [Lewis, defensive coordinator] has been great," Brown said. "He hasn't put any pressure on me, just been a motivating force when things are good and bad."

Things were bad for Brown earlier this summer. He had to serve a weekend in prison from an on-campus fight last August that involved a number of Virginia Tech football players.

"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Brown said. "I learned a lot from that lesson. Being in training camp working in Peter's spot is nothing compared to that experience."

Pub Date: 7/25/97

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