Browns notebook: Jackson, Davis have 'personal competition'

Steve Doerschuk

They’re like buddies in a boat, seeing who can catch more fish.

D’Qwell Jackson leads the Browns in tackles heading into today’s regular-season finale against the 49ers. Fellow inside linebacker Andra Davis is No. 2, five stops behind Jackson’s 105.

They always have a little Sunday fun with each other.

“Dra is a competitor. I’m a competitor,” Jackson said. “During the game, we’ll have a personal competition.

“I’ll say something like, ‘OK, Dra, I’m up one on you.’ Or vice versa.

“It’s just fun. It just helps us push each other.”

Davis, a Round 4 pick in 2002, led the team in tackles in 2003, 2005 and 2006, a reign interrupted only in 2004 when he was hurt.

Jackson, a Round 2 pick in 2006, was asked what it will mean if he holds off Davis and take the tackles championship for 2007.

“Nothing, really,” he said. “You could lead the team in tackles and be 0-16. As long as win games, that’s all that matters.”

Davis delivered an expansion-era high of 199 tackles in 2005, when the team went 6-10. The previous best mark was 191 by Wail Rainer for a 1999 team that went 2-14.

Statistics can be funny. The Browns can finish with their best record of the expansion era, 10-6. Yet they have allowed 371.2 yards a game, worse than any expansion year except 1999, when the average was 377.9.

On the bright side, the defensive average has gone down for seven weeks in a row.

“In the second half of the season, we corrected some things,” Jackson said. “We’re getting after people a little bit more.”

Remember the Colts

The Browns need Indianapolis to beat the Titans tonight. For that to happen, Colts backups will have to play well in the second half, when many starters will be rested because the No. 2 playoff seed has been locked up.

Browns rookie Brandon McDonald says his own experience tells him the backups will be jacked up.

“I was really excited when I got my chance to play this year,” McDonald said. “I wanted to prove to my coaches I could handle the situation. I know they have some guys down in Indianapolis who want to do the same thing.”

That ‘50s show

The Browns can finish 7-1 at home, which would be the first seven-win finish on Lake Erie. Comparable success is hardly unprecedented, though.

In the first six years of the 1950s, when seasons lasted just 12 games, the Browns were 5-1, 6-0, 4-2, 6-0, 5-1 and 5-1 at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

During their 1946-49 run in the All-America Football Conference, the Browns went 47-4-3 overall, with just two losses in Cleveland.

The 1964 Browns went 6-1-1 at home, including a win in the NFL championship game. A 7-1 home record shouldn’t be minimized, though. The Browns were 11-21 at home during the previous four seasons.

Lake Erie paradise

Rookie sixth-round pick Melila Purcell figures to see some time on the defensive line after being promoted from the practice squad.

Having played college ball in Hawaii and after growing up in American Samoa, he was stunned by the blizzard that blew in for the recent game against Buffalo.

“At first,” he said, “I was like ... I need to get out of here. That’s the first time I’ve seen snow like that. I said, ‘Wow.’ “

Upon further review, he said, “If I’ve got to go play in the snow, let it be.”

The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Purcell was in on 10 sacks with the 2006 Warriors.

Cribbs vs. Ginn

Joshua Cribbs is a virtual lock to win the NFL kick return championship. He goes into today’s game with a 30.7 average, covering 57 returns and 1,752 yards.

Three returners have a comparable number of returns:

- Miami’s Ted Ginn Jr., 57 for 1,322 yards.

- Arizona’s Steve Breaston, 57 for 1,314 yards,

- Cincinnati’s Glenn Holt, 56 for 1,369 yards.

Extra points

- Phil Dawson has had a fine season on every level except raw power. Twenty-seven kickers have more touchbacks than his four. Sebastian Janikowski has 22.

- Jamal Lewis has identified himself as a good but not great No. 1 back this year. He has piled up 53 rushing first downs, but seven backs have more, led by LaDainian Tomlinson’s 72.

- Browns defensive lineman Shaun Smith shared his plans for tonight’s Colts-Titans game. “I’ll be watching at home on the big screen,” he said. “I’ll watch the whole thing.”

Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail