The absences of three big-name Browns offensive players from Tuesday’s OTA practice appear to be no big deal, for the most part.
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards, running back Jamal Lewis and left guard Eric Steinbach were all missing as the team went through its second day of a five-day OTA session.
Browns public relations director Neal Gulkis made a special trip to the media room at team headquarters approximately an hour and a half after practice to address the situation following his being asked about the absences by numerous media members. He said Edwards and Steinbach were at the facility Tuesday but not outside practicing. Instead, they were inside working out.
Gulkis added that both had been outside practicing with the team20on Monday when the OTA sessions began.
Gulkis said head coach Eric Mangini pointed out that Edwards “is doing great. He was running extra hills outside” following Monday’s practice.
Steinbach, a starter the last two years with the Browns, is the lightest offensive lineman in camp – by far -- at 295 pounds and has been told by Mangini he has to put on some weight to become the brute-force, physical type of blocker the coach wants to have for the power running game he is installing.
The situation with Lewis is a little cloudier. Gulkis was not sure if Lewis was at Monday’s practice but added that attendance at this week’s practices are voluntary. Lewis had practiced some in the minicamps the previous two weeks as he continues to rehab following offseason surgery to clean out some problems with his ankle. He is coming off a year in which he gained 1,002 yards, becoming the first Brown to have back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Mike Pruitt did it three years in a row with the Kardiac Kids from 1979-81.
Kicker Phil Dawson, the only player left from the Browns’ 1999 expansion team, has not been at any practices the last three weeks. A reason has not been given by either side for his absences, but it certainly appears to be contract-related. Dawson’s current deal runs through the 2010 season.
The OTA practices continue next Monday and Tuesday, then, in their last organized work before training camp begins at a yet-to-be-announced date in late July, the Browns will hold a mandatory minicamp next Thursday through Saturday, June 11-13. Players not attending those practices are subject to being fined. That’s when any absences will really count.