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News » Cleveland Browns Inside Slant 2009-04-07

Cleveland Browns Inside Slant 2009-04-07

Cleveland Browns Inside Slant 2009-04-07
No player on the Browns roster last season drew more criticism for the way he played than wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Edwards dropped at least 16 passes, more according to some counts, and then he brought the wrath of fans upon himself by saying they did not like him because he went to the University of Michigan.

Those same fans wouldn't have cared if he was from Mars when he caught 16 touchdown passes in 2007. And the fact is, fans last year were not fed up with Edwards because he went to Michigan. The Browns drafted him in 2005. If there were any anti-Michigan feelings toward him from the pro-Ohio State fan base it faded long ago. Former Browns tight end Aaron Shea was from Michigan and that never bothered fans.

"I'm Braylon Edwards and I just want to be Braylon Edwards," he said near the end of the season as frustration grew. "I don't want to have to live in Paul Warfield's shadow. I love the game just as much as Paul Warfield. I give everything I have, just as much as Paul Warfield. Being human, I caught a slump this year."

But now General Manager George Kokinis and Coach Eric Mangini have to decide whether they want Edwards for the long haul. His contract expires after the 2009 season. With the draft countdown now down to days instead of weeks, they must decide whether to trade Edwards or accept the fact he will cost a fortune to re-sign to a long-term contract before 2010.

In all fairness to Edwards, his first three seasons give cause to believe he will bounce back. He caught only 32 passes as a rookie, but he missed six games with a knee injury and was a substitute in the first three games after a lengthy holdout in training camp.

Edwards was a full time starter in 2006 and caught 61 passes for 884 yards and six touchdowns. He had that success despite the fact Charlie Frye struggled at quarterback and the Browns won only four games. In 2007 he caught 80 passes for 1,289 and the 16 touchdowns.

Pressure will be on Edwards if the Browns keep him. He will be in his contract year, which is pressure enough. One reason he struggled so badly last season, he admitted, is he put pressure on himself to surpass what he did in 2007. This season he will be out to show last season was the aberration.

"I never used me being from Michigan as a copout," Edwards said. "All season I owned up to my play. I said, 'I'm not playing well. I'm dropping passes. I need to be catching these passes. I never blamed the quarterback. I never blamed the offensive coordinator. I never blamed anything but me not concentrating and focusing."

Edwards will be a marked man in 2008 because the Browns traded their other big threat, Kellen Winslow. Winslow was shipped to Tampa Bay for a second-round pick in 2009 and a fifth-round pick next year. Unless the Browns improve, Edwards can expect to be double-teams virtually every play.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 8, 2009

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Willie McGinest Name: Willie McGinest
Position: LB
Age: 36
Experience: 15 years
College: USC
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