Cleveland Browns receiver Braylon Edwards looks to catch more, talk less
Monday, July 30, 2007Mary Kay Cabot Plain Dealer Reporter
If all goes as planned, Browns receiver Braylon Edwards will be seen more and heard less this season.
"I don't know, but hopefully he doesn't talk quite as much and he concentrates on football more," said coach Romeo Crennel. "I think that's what he's trying to do -- be the best football player he can be."
Edwards agreed he will try to button up as well as step up this season.
"A big thing with me is I'm an emotional player," he said. "I love football, so a lot of times I let my emotions get the best of me and when I speak, I speak from the heart. Sometimes you have to suppress what you really think and just be quiet. That's one thing that I've definitely worked on and learned -- to have that same passion for the game, that same energy -- but just keep it to yourself."
Edwards has talked to several of the veterans about how to conduct himself and is showing a newfound respect for them.
Some, including fellow receiver Joe Jurevicius, were outspoken about some of Edwards' outbursts last season and vowed to discuss them with him.
"We've had conversations, and the main thing for me is just leading by example," said Edwards. "You've got guys like Jurevicius, who have 10 years in the league, you have [running back] Jamal Lewis [with] eight, [offensive lineman [Eric] Steinbach, [offensive lineman Ryan] Tucker. You have guys who have had some success, so they can do all the talking. My main goal is to do everything that I'm supposed to with myself, and hopefully that will be leading by example."
Veterans such as Willie McGinest and Ted Washington tried to talk to Edwards last season but weren't always able to get through to him.
"I think he may be listening to them a little more this year," said Crennel. "When guys grow and mature, you get a different light on things. Hopefully his light is changing and football will be his priority and then off the field he'll be a responsible person as well."
Edwards was living up to his off-season promises until he missed the first day of voluntary organized team activities, the only player to do so. Although he attributed it to a family illness, Crennel showed his displeasure by demoting Edwards for a few practices.
Since then, Edwards has been the model citizen in camp, ignoring a heckler and later flipping a ball to a fans in the stands after a catch. He also spent time with a boy with a disability after practice, away from the cameras. When he received a hug from Edwards, the boy pumped his fist and said, "This is the best day of my life!"
Still, Edwards must overcome his immature label following a tumultuous season that featured his infamous sideline rant, being late to a team meeting after helicoptering to the Ohio State-Michigan game, calling out Brian Russell and offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson and another tardy slip.
"People only have the perception of what everybody else portrays," said Edwards. "I guess I've matured from that standpoint, and I'm not worrying about what everyone else says."
He said he hopes to get more chances in the new offense. Last season, he led the team with 884 receiving yards and six touchdowns and finished second with 61 receptions.
"This year, hopefully I'll be getting more opportunities, and when I get them, I have to take advantage of them," he said.
Two areas on which Edwards must improve: dropped passes and interceptions on passes intended for him. He dropped eight to 10 passes, and according to a study published on ESPN, was No. 1 in the NFL in passes picked off that were going to him.
"Everyone drops passes," said Edwards. "Hall of Famers drop passes. Nobody wants to drop a pass, but when you do, how you respond is the biggest thing for receivers and tight ends."
Edwards acknowledged that it's difficult to establish chemistry when there's no clear-cut starting quarterback.
"Obviously it would be nice if we could go with the same guy," he said. "Look at a guy like [the Colts'] Marvin Harrison, who's been going with Peyton Manning for seven, eight years. [The Bengals'] Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson. But that's kind of football."
One thing working in Edwards' favor is that he's not coming off an ACL rehabilitation this year.
"When I started last season, I wasn't 100 percent - everyone knows that," he said. "I rushed back, but it was a chance I took. It was my own decision. I chose to come back, and I did. This year, I'm starting at 100 percent, possibly even a little bit better. I'm feeling good, and I'm definitely thinking this will be a better year for me and the team as well."
Crennel has noticed the physical change in Edwards.
"I think he's more confident," said Crennel. "The knee is healthy and is fine. He knows it won't cause him a problem. Sometimes you'll see him do some things that he was able to do in college."
That's something worth talking about.
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