Imagine lying in a hospital bed for two months and hearing constantly how football players rarely recover from a torn patellar tendon and how they never, ever come back from tearing both patellar tendons.
That was Gary Baxter's situation from Oct. 22 to Dec. 23 of last year. He suffered twin patellar tears in a horrific non-contact injury in a home game against the Broncos and was not discharged from Cleveland Clinic until two days before Christmas.
Now, Baxter is running without a limp. He is not wearing knee braces, and though he did not participate in minicamp in mid-June, he is determined to beat the odds and line up against the Steelers for the opener Sept. 9. He has worked so feverishly in his rehab that doctors and trainers have told him to slow down.
"I will say this -- the response I get from doctors is, 'You did what?' and, 'You're doing this? Wow.' And that's probably from 100 percent of the doctors. I'm pushing the limits of science and medicine. Everything I can do, I'm doing. I have all my chips in. The results have been spectacular."
The Browns are being cautiously optimistic with Baxter, now in his third season. There is still a chance he will begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. That would give them until mid-October -- 2 1/2 months more recovery time -- to determine whether he can help in 2007.
"Who knows what I'll be doing in training camp?" Baxter said. "I could be given the go- ahead, I might be part-time or I might be doing nothing. I'll be there and I'm going to leave the curiosity up in the air.
"Just know that I'm feeling great and I'm ahead of schedule. I'm pushing science to another level that most people couldn't imagine. I won't go into great details but it's been like five-hour rehab days. At the end of the day, I'm so drained and tired, I have to go home and take a three-hour nap. The great thing about this story is that it's the biggest challenge in my life so far and I'm conquering it."
With Baxter on the sideline, Kenny Wright and rookie Eric Wright are working as the starting cornerbacks. Normally Leigh Bodden would be the starter at left corner, but he is rehabbing from offseason ankle surgery. His rehab is on schedule.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's frustrating because we're trying to be perfect. We're striving to make the right reads and make the right throws. Obviously it's great to make plays but we're also trying to minimize the mistakes." -- Quarterback Derek Anderson on throwing incomplete passes in practice.
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