Warren Proving To Be Big Hit For Browns

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - The last time Browns rookie Gerard Warren saw Mark Brunell, he greeted Jacksonville's quarterback with a vicious, blindside block.

On Sunday, Warren won't even say hello.

"I don't talk to any quarterbacks at all," Warren said. "I don't have nothing to say to Mark Brunell."

Warren's devastating shot helped knock Brunell out of the Browns' 23-14 win over the Jaguars. It also drew Warren, Cleveland's first-year defensive tackle, a $35,000 fine from the league and gave him an early reputation as a nasty player.

And although 'tis the season to be jolly, Warren doesn't plan to make nice with Brunell this Sunday when the Jaguars visit the Browns.

On Jacksonville's first offensive series back on Sept. 30, Brunell had just thrown an interception and was making his way toward the play when he got flattened by Warren.

Afterward, Brunell called Warren's hit a cheap shot, and the league didn't disagree.

Warren was fined and summoned to New York for a chat with commissioner Paul Tagliabue to discuss his conduct and for a lesson on the rules protecting quarterbacks.

Since then, Warren has behaved himself on the field, but got into trouble off it. He was arrested in Pittsburgh last month and faces charges of carrying an unlicensed gun.

Browns coach Butch Davis suspended the team's top draft pick for one game.

But with the Jaguars coming to town, Warren again found himself defending his hit on Brunell and said he's not worried about revenge.

"I have to play the game," Warren said. "If that takes place, hopefully, the right people will see it and take the necessary actions. I'm not going to be hesitant. I'm going to play my game, my style of football."

Brunell said the Jaguars aren't making Warren a marked man. And even if they did, the QB wouldn't be the one handing out any retribution against the 6-foot-4, 322-pound Warren.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's over with," Brunell said. "It's not like I'm gonna try to exact revenge on that guy. He's twice my size. That's crazy.

"I'm not gonna have my linemen do anything either," he added.

"I can't afford for them to get thrown out of the game or get a penalty. There's a point where you just have to be professional about it. Things happen. It's unfortunate. It shouldn't have happened and he got fined for it."

After serving his one-game suspension against Cincinnati on Nov. 25, Warren has played his best games of the season the past two weeks, Davis said.

Warren had eight tackles, five pressures and was "absolutely spectacular" against Tennessee two weeks ago, Davis said. Warren followed that with another eight tackles last Sunday at New England.

They were the type of performances Davis has been expecting from Warren. Several times this season Davis has compared Warren to Russell Maryland, a former No. 1 overall pick whom Davis coached in Dallas.

"I'm not going to say he exceeded my expectation because I had high ones," Davis said of Warren. "But he's definitely on track."

Warren admits the week off refreshed him. He also appreciated Davis' compliments, but knows he needs to get better.

"I think I'm in a groove now," he said. "I didn't start off as well as I would have liked to, but things are starting to click in the second half."

Warren's hit on Brunell wasn't the only thing upsetting to the Jaguars. Wide receiver Sean Dawkins accused Warren of intentionally stepping on his legs.

Not true, Warren said.

"I was being blocked by one of his offensive linemen," Warren said. "At the time, he fell behind me and the guy was pushing me when the play was over. I didn't see him and when I stepped back I stepped on him.

"But it was not intentional. I would never try to hurt anybody. I want everyone to play this game as long they can."

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)