Running back James Jackson is doing an awful lot of talking. If he performs half as well as he is predicting, the Cleveland Browns may have found themselves a steal in the third round.
Shortly after the Browns drafted him in April, Jackson proclaimed himself the franchise back.
Since then, Jackson has compared himself to Indianapolis Colts superstar Edgerrin James, though Jackson says he has more speed. Jackson also said he would have been a first-round pick had he been healthy at the NFL combine.
Jackson has had a chip on his shoulder after having sat behind Fred Taylor for three seasons in high school, then behind James for two at the University of Miami. Reunited with coach Butch Davis, who left Miami and is starting his first season with the Browns, Jackson said he can have the same impact his predecessors in high school and college had in their first professional seasons.
Being the Browns' starter, Jackson realizes this gives him a chance to shine early for a change.
"I never regret anything I say, Jackson said. "[James] keeps telling me, `If you keep your head and study your playbook, you can do the same things I've done.' "
It will help Jackson that he is dealing with a coach who knows him well. Davis stuck with Jackson last year, despite the challenge of current Hurricanes running back Clinton Portis.
"I played for Butch Davis for five seasons," Jackson said. "I know what he wants in practice and in the games, on and off the field."
Browns vs. Ravens
Key for Ravens: Be ready for a revamped offensive line, with the right side featuring tackle Ross Verba and guard Tre Johnson.
Biggest headache: Wide receiver Kevin Johnson. He caught four passes for 85 yards in the second meeting last year, one of the few Browns to have any offensive success against the Ravens.
Stat to watch: The Browns have only four games against playoff teams (Tennessee twice and the Ravens twice).
Brian Billick's impression: "They look to be very much improved. [New coach] Butch Davis is creating a real attitude for them. And they seem to be confident in what they are doing."