Bryant Taking Advantage of Holdout

While Braylon Edwards wants more money, Antonio Bryant wants more catches. The veteran hopes to make his mark this year, and the competition - even if only a rumor so far this season - is helping him step up his game...

The Browns are resigned to possibly playing into the preseason without top draft choice Braylon Edwards, the third overall pick in the first round.

The two sides were not close at the end of last week. Proposals have been exchanged with hardly any progress.

"We're running out of ideas," Browns president John Collins said.

The Browns have sent agent Lamont Smith proposals for five-year and six-year contracts for the wide receiver from Michigan. Smith is looking for five years so his client could get his second contract sooner.

"It would be nice to find some common ground," Collins said. "We're still far apart on some key deal terms. It's a process. I wouldn't say it's messy."

Meanwhile, Antonio Bryant is taking advantage of Edwards' absence. Bryant has emerged as the top receiver. He and quarterback Trent Dilfer have developed an excellent chemistry.

"What you're seeing is a result of what A.B. and I did in the offseason," Dilfer said. "It was more than going out to the fieldhouse and throwing balls. It's something we've worked hard on as a group - getting to know each other, how to react to one another, the freedom to chew each other's butts when things aren't going well and to encourage each other when things are going well."

Bryant won the Biletnkoff Award as college football's top receiver when he was a sophomore at Pitt. He left school after his junior season and was drafted by Dallas in the second round in 2002.

Bryant did not live up to expectations. He caught 44 passes as a rookie when Dave Campo was the Cowboys head coach and 39 passes in 2003 in Bill Parcells' first season in Dallas. He had a run-in with Parcells in the Cowboys' 2004 minicamp. Things didn't get much better, and on Oct. 19 of last season the Browns swapped receiver Quincy Morgan for him. This camp, though, he is playing like scouts always thought he could.

"I have to keep this up and show improvement every day," Bryant said. "It can't be a one-day thing. I have to carry it over to the regular season."

Bryant played 10 games with the Browns last season with 42 catches and four touchdowns. He dropped some passes he admits he should have caught.

Bryant, 6-2, 188 pounds, has a leg up on his fellow receivers because the offensive coordinator is Maurice Carthon, who was his offensive coordinator in Dallas. He said Carthon is running the same offense with the Browns.

From the outside, at least, it appears Bryant has one starting job wrapped up while Andre Davis and Dennis Northcutt fight it out for the other. Eventually, though, Edwards will sign, so as Bryant sees it he has nothing secured. He says even if he did, he wouldn't relax.

"I'm a very competitive person," he said. "If I were a boxer, my belt would always be on the line. I would never shy away from any contender, because that's what makes you better."


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