Maybe it was just coincidence.
Or maybe there was something to the fact that with his old coach in college, former Michigan boss Lloyd Carr, watching from the sideline on Tuesday morning, Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards had one of his best training camp practices of the year.
This is not to say Edwards has failed to have a good camp otherwise. He has. Unlike last year, when a weird injury – he suffered a foot laceration while running post-practice wind sprints when accidentally spiked by teammate Donte Stallworth – led to a season of drama, drop passes and a dramatic drop-off in production from his record-setting performance in 2007, Edwards has played well the last week and a half.
After missing the first four of camp with an undisclosed injury, he has done a good job of putting those 2008 memories in the rearview mirror by making plays. In fact, he made two leaping touchdown catches in the back corner of the end zone on his first day back a week ago. And he helped to put an exclamation point behind all that with how he played Tuesday, especially at the end of practice when he made a spinning, one-handed catch of a Brett Ratliff pass, bounded off of cornerback Brandon McDonald and raced into the end zone to complete a 70-yard touchdown.
"No comment," McDonald said. "He was down."
Whatever. It was still an impressive play – as part of a good practice.
Only Edwards knows for sure if the presence of Carr, the man who recruited him and then coached him for four years at Michigan before the Browns took him at No. 3 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, inspired him. Edwards was not interviewed after practice. Browns head coach Eric Mangini said Carr was not here to pump up Edwards. He said Carr asked for permission to take in practice, and he was only too glad to grant it, saying that men with that kind of coaching experience and expertise can provide a thought-provoking, unbiased evaluation of a team's operation.
But while Edwards wasn't talking – at least publicly – about Carr or anything else Tuesday, the ex-Wolverines boss was talking about his former All-American pass catcher.
"Braylon is one of the great players at Michigan, ever," Carr said after being prodded to stop and talk as he hurriedly tried to exit the practice complex through a side door. "But he has proved he can play at a high level in this league as well."
Edwards said recently that his senior season of 2004 at Michigan, when he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver, was better than the one he had in 2007 with the Browns when he broke team records for receiving yards and touchdown catches. But Carr disagrees.
"I think when you make the Pro Bowl, that's better," he said.
Carr also said Edwards "doesn't like to lose. He likes to win. He's a very competitive guy. He likes competition. He likes to go against the very best. That's what this league is all about."
The former coach would not say if he talked to Edwards in 2008 when he was going through his nightmarish season.
"You'll have to ask Braylon about that," Carr said.
Carr, who officially retired, but was also gently pushed out the door, following the 2007 season, said he has no aspirations to return to coaching.
"I'm doing well in this life after football," he smiled.
He explained that it has given him had a chance to catch up with a lot of his former players in the last 18 months.
And on Tuesday that player was Edwards, who caught up with a catch as practice wore down.
"Yes, it was a touchdown," Carr said when asked about it.
Possibly if Lloyd Carr would come back more often, those Braylon Edwards TDs would become more frequent – and not just in practice, but also in games. At least it worked Tuesday.