The situation is quite similar for Braylon Edwards.
Well, sort of, anyway.
The Browns wide receiver suffered a foot laceration early in the 2008 training camp that kept him out until the regular-season opener.
On Saturday morning, as this year's camp began, Edwards was out again with an injury that also kept him out of the mandatory minicamp six weeks ago. This time, though, the specific nature of the problem is a mystery.
"If you want to know about the injury, you're going to have to talk to Coach (Eric) Mangini," Edwards said.
OK, Coach, spill your guts. What's the deal.
"He has an injury and he's doing his rehab work," Mangini said. "We're not going to address the specifics of any injury. I know you have to ask it, but I hope you appreciate our position."
Tolerate it? Yes. Do media members have any choice? But appreciate it, even though we realize Mangini feels full disclosure of injuries is a competitive disadvantage? Uh, probably not.
But that's the way it is, and will be. So if you're looking for a situation similar to the one in 1988, when then Browns head physician Dr. John Bergfeld conducted a clinic of sorts for the media on quarterback Bernie Kosar's blown-out passing elbow, you had better look somewhere other than Cleveland.
Mangini would not even provide an answer as to when he "anticipated" Edwards will return.
"The only thing I anticipate for any guy is that they're working as hard as they can every day to get back," he said.
But the coach had nothing but good things to say overall about Edwards.
"My experience with him has been very positive. I've seen a lot of very positive things with him," Mangini said.
"Coach Mangini and I are on the same page," he said.
But the week didn't start out that way. Because of the injury – whatever it is – Edwards was asked to come in Monday when the rookies reported. He did not do so, however.
"He came in and we talked and worked it out," Mangini said. "I had a lot of good conversations with him. We talked a lot about a lot of different things."
Mangini isn't going to reveal the specifics of those conversations, but a good portion of them no doubt dealt with helping Edwards return to his 2007 form, when he had the best season ever for a Browns receiver with 80 catches for team records in receiving yards (1,289) and touchdowns (16). Last year was a 180-degree turn the other way as Edwards, getting off to a slow start because of the injury, had 55 catches for 873 yards – still team highs – and three TDs, tied for best on the club. But he was – and is – capable of so much more, and the fear is that if this injury lingers, he could have another 2008 instead of something close to what he did in '07.
"I just need to relax and play my game," Edwards said.
In the meantime, though, what he's being forced to do is too relaxing.
"I'm having to work on the side," said Edwards, who spent the practice in shorts with no pads. "It's very boring. It's extremely boring."
And potentially very hurtful as well to the Browns, who, especially with explosive tight end Kellen Winslow having been traded in the offseason, need to be able to use Edwards as the centerpiece of their passing game, not as just an innocent bystander. In fact, the specifics of his injury aren't really important in the big picture. Getting him back ASAP is, however.
SPEAKING OF WINSLOW: Edwards said he will miss playing with the tight end, who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "When we were on the field together, we would control the defense at times," he said. "We will miss his presence. With him in there, teams weren't able to double-team any of our receivers." With Winslow AND Edwards both gone, though, those double-teams would reappear.
ANOTHER NO COMMENT: Injuries aren't the only thing that's off limits for discussion on the Browns. Contracts are, too. Mangini won't discuss them, and the players have been instructed not to do so, either. When kicker Phil Dawson was asked about his desire to get his contract re-worked, something that caused him to sit out all of the spring work except the mandatory minicamp, he shook his head and said, "I'm not going to talk about it." Dawson always says he can't evaluate his performance until after the season. So how does he think he kicked last year? "You missed your window to ask that question," Dawson replied. No, we didn't. He wasn't around during the voluntary minicamps to be asked. He added, "The focus is on moving forward." Toward that new contract, maybe? It should also be noted that Dawson spent the end of practice trying to kick field goals through a goal post with uprights only about half as wide as normal. The intent is to get kickers to focus on pinpoint accuracy.
ROBAIRE LOOKS ROBUST: Defensive end Robaire Smith, who missed the last 14 games last season with a torn Achilles tendon, participated in individual drills. "Things are coming along well. I'm going on adrenaline today," he said. Though he will be 32 before the season is over (Nov. 15) and this is his 10th year in the NFL, Smith said retirement "never crossed my mind. This is the first time I've ever really been hurt. And being out for most of last year gave my body a rest. It gave me life." Smith is one of the team's real good guys, and a definite leader. His presence on the field and in the locker room was sorely missed. "He's a big, strong man. He always has been," Mangini said. "He looks that way again. He did a lot of good things out there today."
HE DID THINK ABOUT QUITTING: Unlike Smith, offensive guard/tackle Ryan Tucker, 34 and entering his 13th season, said he did consider retirement the last six weeks. He missed all but one game last year with hip and knee problems. Now, though, he's back and seems rejuvenated. He also looks like he's shaved off about 10 years – literally and figuratively. His once long, flowing hair is very short, and his beard is gone. Asked when the last time he looked like this, he said, "About the second grade."
MORE INJURY STUFF: Tight end Steve Heiden missed the final two games last season with a knee injury. One of the longest-tenured Browns as this is his eighth season, he worked wearing a red jersey. As Mangini explained, the red jersey lets Heiden's teammates know that he is limited in what he is allowed to do.
UP NEXT: The Browns will practice just once on Sunday, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
QUOTABLE: "The toughest thing I had to do was learn to walk and put weight on it again. When you're putting 320 pounds on it, which is what I weighed then, that's a lot." – Smith on his rehabilitation.