Fans are going to have to wait a year to see their Pro Bowl center, but LeCharles Bentley vows he will make a complete recovery from his torn patellar tendon and be better than ever in 2007.
Bentley tore his left patellar tendon last Thursday on the first play of training camp. He was operated on the next day and dischatrged from the hospital Monday.
He said he has viewed tape of the play and still is not sure how the injury occurred. In the end, that does not matter. What matters is Bentley being back on the field a year from now. Most fans believe 2007 is when the Browns will make their move anyway.
"Yeah, I'm going to play on opening day (next year)," Bentley said. "I wish I could play this opening day. Obviously, that's not going to happen.
"I am going to play next year. For anybody who has it in their mind that they doubt I'll play, that's unfortunate. I'm OK, I'll be OK and this will make me a better player, teammate, leader, citizen of the city, brother and father. I'll be better in all aspects in my life having gone through this.
"Playing is the last thing that I'm worried about. I'm just trying to get through the process. The least of my worries is playing for the Cleveland Browns next season because I know that's going to happen."
Bentley has already started his rehabilitation and is working on flexibility. Working with trainer Marty Lauzon, he said he can bend his knee 45 degrees. Next week he will begin putting weight on his leg.
Bentley made the Pro Bowl two times in four years with the Saints. He signed with the Browns in free agency because he wanted to continue his career in his hometown; he went to St. Ignatius High School and Ohio State
Coach Romeo Crennel said everyone else will have to pick up the slack with Bentley out of the lineup and Bob Hallen at center. Bentley, though, says the Browns are still in good hands.
"They lost a center," he said. "The team gained another center in Bob Hallen who is going to do a great job. He has more game experience and years in this league than I do. I don't think the team is going to lose a step right now."
Bentley said he will stay involved. He is an enthusiastic person and though he cannot play this season, he believes he can contribute in other ways.
"I'll be the best cheerleader in the league," he said. "I'll be the best cheerleader the team has because I know we don't have any cheerleaders. I'm not saying I'll wear a skirt, but I'll be there for the guys.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to see some of the things the offensive line might not see during the game. I'll be another set of eyes. I don't want to get in the way of the team's process.
"The season must go on. I don't want my situation to hinder that in any way. I'm going to play the sidelines - no pun intended - and do what I do."