July 29, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
63°F
test

Browns’ Edwards showing more mature side

BEREA — Braylon Edwards still wears expensive suits. He still loves the camera as much as it loves him. He still bleeds maize and blue.
But two games into his third season, Edwards seems like a different guy.
It starts with a shift toward “we” during interviews. It continues with the absence of controversy. It ends with his attempt to stay humble following his eight catches for two touchdowns and a career-high 146 receiving yards vs. the Bengals.
“It’s a stepping stone. I still have a long way to go,” he said Wednesday. “It was only one game. I have to do it on a consistent basis.”
Edwards had three 100-yard games last year, but they were overshadowed by the outcome of the games — all losses — and his off-the-field antics. He was late for a meeting the night before the Steelers game after flying to Columbus for the Ohio State-Michigan game, he was benched for the start of the Tampa Bay game for reportedly missing a team meeting and he made plenty of headlines with his ramblings in the locker room.
Through training camp, a rocky opener and a remarkable bounce-back win this season, Edwards has been about as low-key as he can be.
“It symbolizes focus,” he said of his career day. “I’ve worked hard to just focus on one play at a time, work on the small things.”
Edwards was the third pick in the 2005 draft. He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, has good speed and is a great leaper. During camp he declared himself 100 percent following knee surgery at the end of his rookie year, and promised this season would be the one in which he meets everyone’s expectations.
“I feel like I understand the system, am part of the team, am healthy,” said Edwards, who has 11 catches for 195 yards in two games. “I believe that I’m maturing and learning how to play the game from a mental standpoint as well as a physical standpoint.”
Which represents the bigger area of growth?
“Both. The knee thing, I’m able to do a lot more and have a lot more confidence,” he said. “The guys that are great are so mentally strong in the way they approach the game. They play the game before they even step on the field.
“That was part of the ‘Art of War’ book. I’m trying to play the game in my head, go over everything I know I’m going to see.”
Edwards has a simple reason for his newfound dedication.
“I want to be great. I want to do everything it takes to be great,” he said. “And getting caught up in anything other than that is going to take away from that, so why waste my time.”
Edwards agreed that the Cincinnati game was his best as a pro — the overtime win vs. Michigan State as a Michigan senior is “by far” his best ever — but refused to call it complete.
“I don’t think so, because I dropped the first pass that came to me,” he said. “I got flipped up in the air, but it’s a catch I should’ve made and I didn’t. Until I catch everything that comes to me and make every block I possibly can, I won’t be satisfied.”
Edwards did appreciate the diving catch for his second touchdown. The Bengals blew the coverage and Edwards was wide open, but Anderson nearly overthrew him. Edwards dived, made the catch fully extended and rolled into the end zone.
“Great teams don’t leave those plays out there,” Edwards said. “I told myself I’ll break my shoulder trying to get to it.”
Anderson was asked if Edwards’ effort Sunday shows he’s ready to become the Pro Bowler the Browns expected when they drafted him.
“We’re getting there,” he said. “The big thing for Braylon is to keep working. He came in (to the season) with the right mind-set. He has all the ability in the world. We know he can do it, he knows he can do it.”
Edwards still has to prove he can do it on a regular basis. And if things turn sour, he has to prove he can remain committed to the new Braylon.
“I’d like to have him on our team,” Raiders coach Lane Kiffen said in a conference call. “He looks exciting and fun to have. You throw it anywhere near him, it looks like he can make the play. It looks like he’s going to be a real test for us.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.