BROWNS Edwards is still behind, but not that far behind
Cleveland's No. 1 pick is working hard to get ready for the season.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BEREA -- Before last weekend, the hardest hit of Braylon Edwards' career came against Ohio State his junior year when he was upended by Buckeyes safety Nate Salley.
"In college, I got tackled," the Browns rookie wide receiver said. "I never got hit."
That changed on Friday against the Carolina Panthers, when Edwards was drilled by a Panthers player and suffered a minor shoulder injury.
"I wanted a shot to welcome me to the NFL," Edwards said. "It was a good hit. I've never been hit like that."
He's fine, by the way.
"Oh yeah, I'm good," he said.
Edwards, who missed the first part of training camp with a holdout, said the missed time hasn't cost him too much, although he admits he's a little behind.
"This is a new offense for everyone," he said. "Everyone's still learning. I am behind, but not too far behind."
Still third on depth chart
Edwards is still third on the depth chart behind wideouts Antonio Bryant and Dennis Northcutt and that isn't likely to change after tonight's final preseason game against Chicago.
Edwards isn't worried about it, saying he wants to do whatever is best for the team.
"It's all about the team," he said. "It's all about what coach [Romeo] Crennel wants. Dennis is more experienced and knows the offense better right now and Antonio -- he's the guy.
"I'm just trying to work hard and get better right now."
Edward, the third overall pick in last April's draft, said his biggest adjustment so far has been mental.
"When you first come out, you're not playing as fast as you can play," he said. "You're thinking about the assignment and you don't play naturally."
He's also noticed the defensive backs in the NFL are smarter than those in college.
"They're all smart and they're all talented," he said. "They pick up on the smallest things. You have to go full speed and everything has to look the same."
One difference from college, however, is the officiating. College defensive backs are allowed to be more physical than NFL corners.
"They really cracked down on that 5-yard rule last year," he said. "I definitely think that plays for the offense and plays for the receivers."
Crennel wants consistency
While most NFL teams play their starters sparingly during the final preseason game, Crennel said he may leave his starters in longer against the Bears.
"Our team still needs work," he said. "How long these guys will play, we'll play that by ear. It might be a quarter, it might be a quarter and a half. We still need to jell and get more cohesive.
"I told the guys to be ready to play 60 minutes. Even if I take you out of the game, that doesn't mean I can't put you back in."
The Browns are relatively healthy entering tonight's game but will be without a couple key starters. Cornerback Gary Baxter (concussion) and running back Lee Suggs (high ankle sprain) will miss the game, along with defensive back Antwan Harris, linebackers Ivory McCoy and Renauld Williams and lineman Jonathan Dunn.
With Suggs out, William Green will start at running back tonight. Reuben Droughns got the start last Friday.
"I don't think one guy is head and shoulders above the other," Crennel said. "Both guys will get work because they both need it."
The roster is at 74 players and must be at 53 on Saturday.
"We're not where we need to be," Crennel said. "We haven't been as consistent as we need to be. We need everyone to step up.
"If everyone steps up, we have a chance to be competitive. If not, we will struggle."