If Sheldon Brown's livelihood is on the line, it's news to him.

In yesterday's Daily News, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said that William James, who saw limited playing time due to injury last season, is a "starting [quality] cornerback," and that he had let both Brown and James know that the best man coming out of training camp would win the starting job.

Only problem is, Brown says the first time he heard that his job security was waffling was yesterday, when an Eagles public-relations staffer showed him Paul Domowitch's article.

More bemused than angry, Brown said the only thing that caught him off-guard was that Johnson singled out Brown and Jeremiah Trotter as guys who are in a battle. The way he sees it, everybody on the roster is fighting for their jobs right now, and that while there might be bigger battles at one spot than another, to single out cornerback and middle linebacker struck Brown as at least odd.

"I haven't had one conversation with Jim about my job," Brown said. "I would think if my job were in jeopardy, it would come up. I think coach [Andy] Reid would call a guy in if he didn't think he was playing up to par. I've seen Jim five or six times this offseason and he hasn't said anything to me about my job being on the line.

"He hasn't talked to Sheldon Brown about that, so I would hope maybe out of respect he would call me. Even if what he said was misconstrued, I'm sure they're showing him the article just like they showed me, so I think he would call me to clear it up."

Brown isn't foolish enough to think he's a lock at his starting position. After five seasons in the NFL, the former second-round pick knows that nothing is guaranteed in football and that last year's starter could be this year's roadkill (just ask Dhani Jones). He will head to minicamp and training camp this year as he always has, intent on proving he deserves to start because of his talent, not because he's been grandfathered into the position.

"I go to training camp every year thinking my job is on the line, no matter who is behind me," Brown said. "That's how I play. I don't compete against people behind me. I compete against myself."

Indeed, Brown has been around long enough to know what to worry about and what not to worry about. This one falls into the latter box.

"This won't keep me up nights, no, not at all," Brown said, laughing. "There's no discomfort or anything on my part. I play football. That's what I do and there's no more pressure on me, because I already put enough on myself." *