Braylon Edwards did not complain about a lack of opportunities through the first half of the season, but now the rookie receiver, the third overall pick in the draft last spring, is saying the Browns could be more successful if he is made a bigger part of the game plan. He would like the change to start Sunday when the Browns play the Dolphins at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Edwards has 17 catches for 294 yards. He didn't catch a pass last week against the Steelers until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. He caught one for 2 yards a week earlier but didn't moan because the Browns squeaked by the Titans 20-14.
"I've been steering clear (of complaining), but the bottom line is I'm ready to make plays," he said. "I'm tired of being around when I know can make a play and not being able to make that play. I can make plays. That's why I was drafted. Sooner or later they have to give me a chance to do that."
Edwards had a chance to make a big play against the Steelers. He was open on a post route over the middle around the Browns 30 on the second possession of the game. The Browns were leading 7-0, and had quarterback Trent Dilfer completed the pass, they could have had a 14-0 lead. Edwards stretched, but the pass was overthrown.
"We want Braylon to step up on the field," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "We're on the same page. The coach makes the decision and the player plays. We worked him in more last week, and we'll work him in more this week."
Crennel likened Edwards to a jet that needs to gain speed on a runway before it can take off rather than one that can soar from a stationary position.
Dilfer gets sensitive when asked why he and Edwards aren't connecting well. There have been times when Edwards is open but Dilfer doesn't see him because he locks in on Antonio Bryant and Dennis Northcutt. Crennel said Dilfer and Edwards have rhythm in practice but admitted it does not carry over into games.
Dilfer said he and Edwards sat together on the bus ride to the airport after the game in Pittsburgh to hash over how they could develop chemistry faster. Dilfer said it just takes time.
"We'll continue to work hard and more will be shown on it," Dilfer said. "Anytime you're dealing with new players, myself being the biggest part of it, it takes time to develop chemistry. You have to speed up the learning curve by working with those people. It doesn't come overnight."
Edwards managed to deliver his message without coming across as selfish. He said a rookie has to show he knows the system and that he isn't going to pout if he isn't the focal point of the offense right away. Edwards says he has passed those tests. Even before Edwards talked, general manager Phil Savage said Edwards would get "more at-bats" in the latter part of the season.
"I don't want to express my frustration because (Crennel) has a lot on his plate already," Edwards said. "Me going in and complaining (would be) one more thing he'd have to deal with. I just have to be patient."
Edwards' remarks come in the wake of the Eagles suspending Terrell Owens. He wanted to make it clear he is not following Keyshawn Johnson's "Give me the damn ball" line of reasoning.
"Right now, it's a little frustrating biting my tongue, but at the same time I understand it and I think (being patient) will make be a better pro," Edwards said. "Seeing the guys who went the wrong way, that everybody criticizes, it kind of makes it easier to sit back, relax and trust the coaching."