A. Davis has been quite a catch for Browns

Rookie receiver already has four TD receptions

October 05, 2002|By Brian Windhorst | Brian Windhorst,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BEREA, Ohio - Ever since he started playing football, Andre Davis has repeatedly found himself a victim of circumstance.

He finds much of it easy to laugh about now, four games into his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns. Just part of the routine for Davis, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound receiver with 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash, who has always seemed to have to separate himself from the pack.

A quarter of the way through the season, Davis has 14 catches for 186 yards and four touchdowns. After his five-catch, 99-yard, two-touchdown performance in Cleveland's 31-28 overtime win over the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago, he became just the sixth rookie since 1970 to catch touchdown passes in his first three games as a pro.

He enters tomorrow night's game with the Ravens (1-2) second in the NFL in touchdown receptions and ranks third among rookies in catches and yards.

"I was always confident in my ability to play and perform at this level," Davis said. "But it was a surprise to have four touchdowns this early."

It has certainly made a name for him in Cleveland, which is easier said than done when your last name is Davis. Head coach Butch Davis picked Andre Davis in the second round of last April's NFL draft out of Virginia Tech, and then picked linebacker Andra Davis three rounds later.

But it wasn't the Davis pack that Andre had to break out of - it was the pack of wide receivers in training camp. Davis was the fourth straight wide receiver the Browns (2-2) have taken in the second round since rejoining the NFL in 1999. That list includes Kevin Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, and Quincy Morgan, who joined other veterans JaJuan Dawson, Andre King and Chris Sanders in camp. And then rookie free-agent receiver Frisman Jackson became one of the stories of camp when he came from nowhere to earn a spot on the team.

It didn't seem to faze Davis much, who had dealt with such challenges since high school. A track and soccer star from upstate New York, Davis didn't even start playing high school football until he was a junior.

It took a self-made videotape and a lot of pull from his cousin, former Virginia Tech player Rich Bowen, just to get coach Frank Beamer to give him a chance with the Hokies. He proved himself by catching 103 passes for 1,986 yards in his four-year career.

Despite his skill, his senior season numbers (39 catches for 623 yards) weren't overly impressive and he slipped to the 47th overall pick.

But he proved his worth with the way he picked up offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' system. Davis' understanding of blitz and coverage schemes impressed the coaching staff in the preseason, as did his willingness to catch passes across the middle.

"He's got great vertical speed, and he's also very polished for a rookie," Butch Davis said.

NOTE: Browns center Dave Wohlabaugh, who has missed the past three games with a broken right hand, is expected to start.

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