Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker
BEREA, Ohio -- By the midpoint of the 2008 season, it was pretty clear that linebacker Andra Davis’ days were numbered in a Browns uniform.
Cleveland was in the midst of another losing season, the defense was struggling, and sweeping changes were forthcoming throughout the organization. Davis, one of the team leaders, was among the players not retained by Cleveland’s new regime of coach Eric Mangini and general manager George Kokinis.
But Davis, 30, signed to become a starting linebacker for the Broncos (1-0) and has seemingly found the fountain of youth, registering nine tackles and a sack in Denver’s 12-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Sunday will mark the first time Davis meets Cleveland (0-1), which drafted him eight seasons ago.
“I’m happy for him because he needed new scenery,” Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “He was here for so long. I talk to him all the time and he’s loving it out there. If you watch him on film, the guy is flying around.”
The Broncos are playing scrappy defensively and are tied for second in the NFL in points allowed after Week 1. Davis is playing some of his best football early and has extra motivation facing many of his friends and former teammates.
“When they get here, I’m going to make sure I see them and talk to them before and after the game,” Davis said. “But during the game it’s going to be a war. I expect their best, as well as I know they’re going to expect my best. But after the game it’s all love again.”
Although Denver’s win over Cincinnati will be remembered mostly for receiver Brandon Stokley’s 87-yard touchdown catch at the end of the game, its defense did a good job before that to hold a very talented offense to just seven points.
The Broncos intercepted Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer twice and registered three sacks, displaying some of the problems Denver and Davis could pose for Cleveland’s offense this weekend.
“They got pressure on Carson and they shutdown some big-play wide receivers, whether it was Chad [Ochocinco] and Laveranues [Coles],” Browns quarterback Brady Quinn said. “They did a good job of making plays when they had to, as well, in key situations.”