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CB Baxter has surgery; NFL future is in doubt



Published: Wed, October 25, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The last player to tear both patellar tendons on a play missed four seasons.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Browns cornerback Gary Baxter had the torn patellar tendons in both knees repaired in surgery Tuesday, the first step for him in a long climb back to playing in the NFL again.

Baxter injured both his knees while breaking up a pass in the second quarter of Sunday's 17-7 loss to the Denver Broncos. While covering wide receiver Javon Walker, Baxter planted and attempted to jump when his knees gave out.

The Browns released a statement saying Baxter's operation was successfully performed at the Cleveland Clinic by head team physician, Dr. Anthony Miniaci. The 27-year-old Baxter is expected to be sidelined for at least one year, and there's a chance he might not be back at all.

Baxter is believed to be the first NFL player to tear both patellar tendons on the same play since Chicago wide receiver Wendell Davis did it in 1993 while playing on the treacherous Astroturf in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.

Davis sat out four seasons before returning as a tight end for San Diego in 1998. He played in 11 games for the Chargers before being released.

Injury problems

Baxter was the second Browns player this year to tear a patellar tendon, which stabilizes the kneecap. On the team's first play of full contact in training camp on July 27, center LeCharles Bentley tore his patellar and was lost for the season.

Last week, coach Romeo Crennel said Bentley might not be back in time for the start of next season.

Baxter had returned to Cleveland's starting lineup after missing three games with a partially torn left chest muscle. He missed the final 10 games last season -- his first with the Browns -- after tearing a right chest muscle.

Before signing a six-year, $30 million free agent deal with Cleveland in 2005, Baxter had no history of injuries with the Baltimore Ravens, starting 48 consecutive games.

The loss of Baxter, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, is another blow to the Browns (1-5) and their banged-up secondary.

Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon is out for the season with a knee injury and Leigh Bodden hasn't played in two weeks because of a sprained ankle. Daven Holly will likely start in Baxter's spot and Bodden is expected to be back on Sunday when Cleveland hosts the New York Jets.

Also, the Browns signed free agent defensive back Mike Hawkins. He played in 11 games last season for the Green Bay Packers.




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