Players Adjust Quickly to Trade

Browns players were surprised by the deal, but quickly regained their footing. Steve King was in Berea today talking with players in the team's locker room and brings us this report...


But not awe.

Browns players said in the locker room before Wednesday's practice that they were surprised – but only a little, and only for a while -- at the trade earlier that morning of wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets.

"None of it is surprising anymore," said veteran tight end Steve Heiden, who, with the absence due to injury of kicker Phil Dawson, is the longest-tenured Brown still playing. "It's not just here. It's everywhere in the NFL. It's the business, and this is what happens in this business.

"I was traded once (to the Browns by the San Diego Chargers just before the start of the 2002 season), so I know how it is. One day you're there, and the next day you're gone."

But Heiden got traded because then Chargers first-year head coach Marty Schottenheimer, formerly of the Browns, of course, simply deemed that the tight end couldn't help him. There were no hidden – or, as it were, not-so-hidden – reasons for it.

With Edwards, though, his trade came about 53 hours after an incident at a Cleveland night spot early Monday morning in which he is alleged to have punched a friend of Cavaliers star LeBron James. Police and the NFL are investigating the matter.

Accurate or not, the perception is that Browns first-year head coach Eric Mangini, aware of Edwards' previous off-the-field issues, said enough is enough and set out to get rid of him as soon as possible to the highest bidder, which again ended up being the club he coached the previous three seasons.

"This coach wants things done in a certain way, and if you don't do it that way, he'll find somebody else who will," said nice-guy left tackle Joe Thomas, who, in being named an offensive team captain at the start of this season, has developed a little bit of an edge.

"This is a business, and the business is winning. And the man in charge is going to decide if you're helping the team win."

Added inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, a defensive team captain, "There were some issues there. I'm sure there was also a mutual understanding between Braylon's people and Coach Mangini. Braylon's people had a plan of what they wanted, and Coach Mangini had a plan of what he wanted."

That is, Edwards had long wanted out of Cleveland, and Mangini, having enough trouble trying to build a winner that it doesn't have time to coddle a malcontent, finally decided he wanted the player out of Cleveland, too, and was only too happy to accommodate him. But for the players who don't want out of town, it sends a message, as Thomas pointed out, that Mangini won't tolerate foolishness.

"It will make me focus harder today, that's for sure," Jackson said.

Rookie wide receiver Brian Robiskie, who is likely to finally get some significant playing time with Edwards out of the mix, said he doesn't know whether the alleged incident played a role in the trade. But he added, "Obviously, this coach has stressed the importance of carrying yourself well on and off the field, and you're going to be held accountable for your actions."

But outside linebacker David Bowens, who has a long and solid relationship with Mangini in having played for him the last two years in New York, is not convinced the alleged incident and trade are as closely connected as everyone seems to believe they are.

"This can be perceived however each individual wants to perceive it," he said. "They could be connected, but maybe they're not. There have been times in the past in his coaching career when a player got into trouble off the field and he wasn't traded."

Despite all his issues, though, Edwards was genuinely liked in the Browns locker room.

"I've known him a long time, and he was a good guy," said Robiskie, who, as an upperclassman at Chagrin Falls High School in suburban Cleveland, was working as a ball boy for the Browns when Edwards was breaking into the league in 2005.

Heiden called him "a good guy. I always got along with him."

Running back Jerome Harrison, from Kalamazoo, Mich., said he likes Edwards and pointed out that he first got to know the receiver, a Detroit native, when they played against each other in high school. Maybe that's why Edwards came to Harrison's aid and threw a punch in Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals after he thought the running back had been tackled in a dirty manner.

With Edwards gone, who will defend Harrison now?

"The whole team," Harrison said.

That's a good answer for a player coached by Mangini, who puts the team – and good behavior, of course – above everything.

Wide receiver/returner Joshua Cribbs seemed the most sympathetic toward Edwards' situation.

"He was a tremendous friend and a tremendous teammate – a pretty cordial person," Cribbs said. "I talked to him this morning and he told me congratulations on the way I've been playing and to keep balling, and I told him the same.

"He's always double-covered in every game he plays. You have to account for him by putting a safety over top and a cornerback underneath."

So now it's incumbent upon the Browns receivers to do a better job of getting open on their own – and to make sure they think before they talk.

"Braylon speaks his mind a lot, and when a high-profile athlete does that, he gets into trouble," Cribbs said. "Braylon told the truth. He told you what it is."

And, as mentioned, what it is in this situation is simply business, and everybody now must move on. That – the post-Braylon Edwards era -- will begin in earnest for the Browns on Sunday when they meet the Bills at Buffalo.

"There no one person who can stop a ship," Cribbs said.

Added Heiden, "He'll be fine, and we'll be fine."

As to who will be finer in the long run, only time will tell. But no matter how it turns out, don't expect anyone on the Browns to be greatly surprised.

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