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Browns getting national tube time

Those plain orange helmets will be back on national TV this weekend, and this time the Cleveland Browns don’t plan to embarrass themselves.

Their last prime-time appearance on the tube was a disaster.

One of the NFL’s early-season surprises, Cleveland (4-2) will get a chance to show the nation if they should be taken seriously on Sunday when they visit the streaking Chicago Bears (5-1) at Soldier Field.

“The whole world will get to see us,” said cornerback Corey Fuller. “We can get a lot of respect that night.”

Roughly 75 percent of CBS’ viewers will see the Browns-Bears matchup, which the network has moved – from a 1 p.m. kickoff to 4:15 p.m. -so it could be aired to a majority of the country.

It will be the Browns’ first national exposure since 1999, an opening-week Sunday night game that Cleveland fans are just now starting to forget.

On Sept. 12 that season, the Browns made their return to the league following a three-year absence and were shut out 43-0 at home by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who trashed the welcome back party in Cleveland’s new stadium.

The Browns don’t want to see a rerun.

“A lot of people will be tuned in,” said rookie running back James Jackson. “A lot of them are wondering, ‘Why is Cleveland 4-2?’ We’ve got to go out there and show them why. A lot of teams will be watching, too, and we don’t want to go out and make fools of ourselves.”

There’s no reason to think the Browns will.

In its first year under coach Butch Davis, Cleveland has already surpassed its win total of last season, and one more win and the Browns will have matched their victory total over the past two seasons.

Fuller said Davis is the biggest reason for the turnaround.

“He’s brought the love back into this locker room,”Fuller said. “From Day One, he’s told guys, ‘If you believe you can do it, you can do it.’ We won five games in two years. There were times I wanted to go home and not play football again.”

Like the Bears, who have won five straight and are off to their best start since 1990, the Browns are gaining believers around the league with every victory.

And now they can add a few million more on TV against the Bears.

“I think it’s great,” said quarterback Tim Couch. “I think it shows a lot of respect for us and for the Bears. People want to see if both teams are for real and if we?ve come that far in such a short period of time.”

The Browns think they’ve made huge strides and feel being a feature game with CBS’ top announcing team of Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms behind the microphones is just another step.

“And eventually we’ll be on Monday Night Football,” said offensive guard Ross Verba.

The Browns are getting an added boost on defense with second-year end Courtney Brown expected to play for the first time this season against the Bears.

Brown, the top overall draft pick in 2000 who had a solid rookie season with Cleveland, has been sidelined since August with a partial ligament tear in his right knee.

Brown worked out with the first-team defense during practice on Wednesday, and Davis said he’ll play on Sunday and may even start at right end.

“We’re giving him a little more to handle every single day,” Davis said, “and he’s handled everything pretty good. But we’re going to be smart since it’s his first game of the year.”

Davis said the national exposure was “a nice compliment” to the Browns, who were lucky to even get their highlights replayed while losing 27 games the past two years.

“That’s one of the things our players wanted to do,” Davis said. “To play in significant games and earn some respect.”

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