Braylon Edwards practiced Saturday for the time since undergoing knee
surgery on Jan. 3.
Fans roared their approval as he sprinted onto the practice
field, and he responded by slapping hands with fans as he ran by them on his
way to lining up for his first drill.
Edwards is way ahead of schedule. Normally it takes nine months
to recover from ACL surgery. Edwards is back in less than seven months,
although he is still restricted from having contact.
"I'm just so excited," he said. "I never felt like this - even
being drafted, and the first game last year and the first touchdown. This is
the happiest I've ever been.
"I've never been hurt in my life. I didn't know what to expect.
It was a long, grueling process. The coaches, Mr. Lerner, Mr. Savage - those
guys never put pressure on me to get back. They never made me feel like I
wasn't part of the team. Them doing that made me want to get back for the
team more than for myself.
"To go out there today, slap hands with the fans, run routes
full speed and catch passes and get the ovation - it was really something."
Edwards' first catch was on a crossing pattern from Ken Dorsey.
Soon after that receivers coach Terry Robiskie threw a pass over Edwards'
shoulder. Edwards caught it with ease. Fans cheered and Edwards waved the
ball toward the bleachers to acknowledge the applause.
From the start of his rehab, the Browns have been conservative
about when Edwards might be ready to play. General Manager Phil Savage set
Oct. 1 as a target date. Now Edwards might be ready for the season opener
Sept. 10 against New Orleans.
"God forbid, if anything happens to our race and creed, they
should use his DNA to rebuild the population," Browns owner Randy Lerner
said before practice began. "He's a freak of nature."
Edwards credited Dr. Anthony Miniaci, who performed the surgery,
and trainer Marty Lauzon for being ahead of schedule.
"I don't want to toot my own horn," Edwards said. "I'll toot
Miniaci's and Lauzon's horn. They did a helluva job. We're going to continue
to listen to their expertise. When I come back, believe me, I'm never going
back in the training room.
"I can't say I'm guaranteed of playing Sept. 10. Obviously, it's looking
real good. We're not going to try to force it. The main thing in our mind is
to be 100 percent. But everything is going well. I'm extremely excited about
the possibility of playing in the first game."
Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. were on the practice field
together Saturday. It was the first time, because when Edwards was a rookie
last year Winslow was on the shelf recovering from his motorcycle accident.
Edwards said he, Winslow and Charlie Frye refer to themselves as "The young
"I think (Winslow) and I are going to make magic this year and
for years to come," Edwards said.
Edwards is as confident as ever. "I'M" was printed on his right
wrist band and "BACK" was printed on his left wrist band. He said he has so
much faith in Miniaci and Lauzon that once the give the green light; he will
have no fear of contact.
"I'm not worried about any of that," he said. "If they tell me I'm good to
go, it's no holds barred the rest of the season.
"I had to do so much it made me a stronger, more determined player. It made
me want the playoffs, championships, the Super Bowl, the Hall of Fame even
that much more. I'm not happy being hurt, but I'm happy what being hurt