CLEVELAND -- Defensive end Courtney Brown, the first player chosen in the 2000 NFL draft, sprained a ligament in his right knee and will miss the Cleveland Browns' season opener Sept. 9 against Seattle.
Brown was injured during the first quarter of a preseason game Friday against Carolina. It's the same injury that forced him to miss last week's exhibition game against Washington.
He first sprained his right knee in practice a week before the Washington game.
"Obviously, this injury is a disappointment and we will miss Courtney's contributions," coach Butch Davis said. "His work ethic, dedication to excellence and productivity set a great example for everyone. However we expect someone to step up in his absence."
The Browns were decimated by injuries last season, which led to a 3-13 record and cost coach Chris Palmer his job. Now, Davis will begin his era without his best defensive player for at least the first week.
The 6-foot-4, 266-pound Brown won't need surgery, but his playing status will be determined week-by-week.
Davis had hoped to switch Brown to the right defensive end position this season, pairing him with top draft pick Gerard Warren on the right side.
Brown had 85 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in his rookie season while starting all 16 games at left end. He had career high three sacks in the Browns' 23-20 win over Pittsburgh in Week 3 and was named AFC defensive player of week.
In the final week last season against Tennessee, Brown recorded a season-high 11 tackles, including six solo stops.