Normally, arthroscopic surgery is a routine operation to repair wear and tear on a player's knee after a rigorous season. But with Kellen Winslow Jr.'s delicate right knee, no operation is routine,
Winslow is heading to the operating table for the fourth straight offseason. The surgery could be performed as early as next week; Winslow put off the surgery hoping to be invited to the Pro Bowl. His wish was granted one day after the Super Bowl when the Chargers' Antonio Gates opted out because of a toe injury.
"I'm definitely going to have a surgery done on my knee," Winslow said. "My shoulder might be strong enough. I'm just really worried about my knee. Your legs are your life. I need my knee."
Winslow announcing he needs surgery does not come as a surprise. He hinted at the end of 2007 he would need another operation.
"You have no idea what my knee feels like," Winslow told a group of reporters the day after the season ended.
Winslow played all 16 games last season and caught 82 passes for 1,106 yards and five touchdowns. It was his second straight full season after playing in only two games his first two years. He caught 89 passes and scored three touchdowns in 2006.
Winslow played the last 13 games in 2007 with a partially dislocated left shoulder. He would routinely hook an electronic stimulus device to his shoulder in the locker room, but even when his shoulder was giving him the most pain - it subsided as the season progressed - Winslow said his knee was a bigger concern.
Surgery was required in 2004 after Winslow suffered a broken femur and torn ankle ligaments in the second game of his rookie season. He crashed his motorcycle on May 1, 2005, and had season-ending surgery more than a month later. He had a clean-up surgery on his right knee in 2006.
On Jan. 30, 2007, Winslow had microfracture surgery on his right knee to stimulate cartilage growth. At the time, a source close to Winslow said his knee might not be able to withstand another operation. Yet here he is, ready to go under the knife again so he can play in 2008 and beyond.
"You know I'm not healthy," Winslow said. "I do what I can to play as well as I can, but just imagine if I was healthy, like was I was back in college ... It would be unfair."
Winslow was an integral part of the Browns' success in 2007. He caught one more pass than Braylon Edwards, but Edwards caught 11 more touchdown passes. Edwards' 16 touchdown catches is a franchise record.
Edwards is the first to say he would not have had the success he had if opponents did not have to fret about Winslow. The Browns had the perfect receiving combination with Edwards as the deep threat, Winslow catching passes over the middle and Joe Jurevicius as the possession receiver.
Take Winslow out of the equation and the Browns would not be the same team.
Coach Romeo Crennel said he is not concerned about Winslow putting off the surgery as long as he has. As long as the damage can be repaired arthroscopically, Winslow is expected to be healthy for the start of OTAs in May.