CLEVELAND -- The surging Cleveland Browns, winners of two straight games for the first time since 2003, will face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday without leading tackler D'Qwell Jackson, who is expected to miss at least two weeks with a left ankle injury.
The second-year veteran inside linebacker, one of the Browns' few consistent defenders against the run, sustained a high ankle sprain in last week's victory over the St. Louis Rams and did not practice all week.
Jackson, 24, has registered 60 tackles, including three games with 10 tackles or more, for a Cleveland defense that statistically ranks as the NFL's worst. The Browns are 29th against the run, permitting an average of 139.4 yards per game and of 4.7 yards per rush. The yards-per-rush rating is the third poorest in the league.
The injury comes at a time when Cleveland, largely because of its explosive offense, has become competitive in the AFC North and, at 4-3 for the year, trails the division-leading Steelers by just one game. The Browns play at Pittsburgh, the league's top-ranked rushing team, next week, and their task against the Steelers would be made more difficult by Jackson's absence.
Cleveland follows the meeting with the Steelers with another divisional road game, against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 18.
Although the Browns have surrendered a league-high 18 touchdown passes in seven games, the Seahawks, coming off a bye, are expected to try to resuscitate a No. 22-ranked running attack whose deficiencies mirror the recent struggles of tailback Shaun Alexander.
The Seahawks' star has carried 135 times for 460 yards and only two touchdowns and is averaging just 3.4 yards per attempt. Alexander, 30 and only two years removed from a season in which he rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns, has not scored in five straight games and has only two 100-yard outings for the year.
The eight-year veteran, who is playing with a cracked left wrist and has acknowledged that he is uncomfortable with the cast he that will sport again on Sunday, has been held under 4.0 yards per carry in all but one game this year. In his last three games, Alexander has rushed for just 107 yards on 44 carries, a 2.4-yard average.
Alexander entered 2007 with a career average of 4.4 yards per rush.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.