When he had the best season ever by a Browns pass catcher in 2007, the team finished a robust 10-6.
And when, after missing almost all of training camp with a lacerated foot, he had a dismal season in 2008, the club nosedived to 4-12.
So when wide receiver Braylon Edwards is out with an injury, Browns fans understandably hold their collective breaths. Such was the case when he missed the first part of camp this year with an undisclosed injury, and also when he walked off the field Wednesday and hopped onto the exercise bike and began peddling away.
The fifth-year pro did not appear to be seriously hurt. If he were, then it makes sense that he would have been inside to the training room, or to Cleveland Clinic, from which the team's medical services are rendered.
It will be interesting to see if he's on the field Thursday when the Browns wrap up preparations for their preseason opener against the Green Packers on Saturday night at Lambeau Field.
Edwards has been having a good camp, and was coming off one of his best efforts of the year on Tuesday as his former college coach at Michigan, Lloyd Carr, looked on.
He and the Browns are hoping this will be just a speed bump and not the start of something that lingers and festers.
The Browns need Edwards. While they have a lot of good, young receivers in second-round draft picks Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi, and Lance Leggett, versatile Joshua Cribbs and two solid veterans in Mike Furrey and David Patten, they need a go-to, make-the-defense-sweat anchor such as Edwards.
A GOOD – OR BAD – SIGN?: Tight end Steve Heiden is one of the longest-tenured of the Browns. This is his eighth year here after arriving in a trade with the San Diego Chargers just before the start of the 2002 season. But he's coming off knee surgery that caused him to miss the final two games of last season, plus there's the fact the Browns brought in two other veteran tight ends in the offseason in Robert Royal, who will likely start, and Aaron Walker. And we can't forget second-year pro Martin Rucker, a fourth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. So is there room for Heiden after all these years? Browns head coach Eric Mangini was asked if Heiden still has the ability to play. "Yes, the one thing he's definitely got is that youthful enthusiasm," the coach said. "This guy, he's excited to be there every day. It's contagious. When he gets into a drill, it's on. You better buckle up, because he's going full speed all the time. That's what you want. He's competitive. Talk about loving football, he loves football." Yes, we all know Heiden is one of the leaders on the team and a guy who always gives an honest day's effort, but does he still have a role on this team? And if so, then what is it? Mangini never talked about any of that. Maybe he avoided answering the question directly by accident, or maybe it was on purpose so as to say only positive things about one of the Browns' most well-respected and well-liked players. We'll see how that goes.
PRACTICE WINNING?: The Browns went winless – 0-4 – last year in the preseason for only the second time in club history. It started the Browns onto a downward spiral from which they never recovered. With Mangini coming in and trying to rebuild the team, does he place more emphasis on winning these practice games so as to build some positive momentum? "My philosophy with the preseason, whether it's the first year or the third year or the 10th year, whatever it is, there's going to be improvement," Mangini said. "That's always what I'm going to be looking for, is improvement. We've talked about this before, that it's not always going to be flashy. It's not always going to be something that's dramatic. It just has to be a step forward. That's what I want. What I don't ever want to see, is taking steps back or not being able to capitalize on our opportunity to practice that day, in the sense that you go out and you practice, but that's effort. I want practices that have results and days that have results. Talking about the transition to cards tomorrow, that's something that's new, that we haven't done and you have to learn how to practice that way. It could be days where we don't practice in pads. You have to understand how to practice without pads and still get the work done that you need to get done. It's all those things, everybody being able to take some steps forward individually and as a group."
CAMPER OF THE DAY: Rookie cornerback Brandon Anderson from the University of Akron arrived only last week but is making huge strides. He has even been working with the first-team defense. He's a player to watch to see if he can make up ground on all the players who have been here from the start.
UP NEXT – AND NEXT, AND NEXT: As mentioned, Thursday's practice, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., will be the final one of the week for the Browns. They will also be off on Sunday. … The Browns have released their camp schedule for next week. There will be single sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., and two practices on Tuesday from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m. and then from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m. There will be no practice on Friday and Sunday before and after Saturday night's preseason home opener against the Detroit Lions.
QUOTABLE: "The last time this happened, she got more air time than we did, and we played." – Browns quarterback Brady Quinn talking about his sister, Laura, who sat in the stands at the Fiesta Bowl following the 2006 season and was caught numerous times by TV cameras as she watched her brother's Notre Dame Fighting Irish play the Ohio State Buckeyes of her then fiancé, linebacker A.J. Hawk. Laura and A.J. are now married, and Hawk will be playing for the Packers against Quinn and the Browns on Saturday night.