December 17, 2014

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Browns’ Edwards getting reputation as a go-to guy

BEREA — Braylon Edwards outleaps the cornerback in the end zone, sprints toward the goalpost and dunks the ball over the crossbar.
The routine, sometimes with a different celebration, has become a staple of the Browns’ season. Edwards has a touchdown catch for each of the team’s 13 games, matching Gary Collins’
44-year-old franchise record.
While everyone notices the touchdowns, fellow receiver Joe Jurevicius said attention should be paid to the details.
“I don’t think you catch 13 touchdowns, I don’t think you catch the number of balls or have the yardage he has right now by not doing the little things,” Jurevicius said. “What we’ve seen the last couple years has been on talent alone. Now he’s trying to put that package together and it’s paying big dividends, not only for him but for us as a football team.
“Braylon has come to realize that he’s got a lot of potential and is learning how to channel it for the betterment of the team.”
Edwards has had a career year, and there are three regular-season games left. He has 65 catches for 1,106 yards, ranks 21st in the NFL in catches, sixth in yardage, third in touchdowns and tied for fourth with a 17.0-yard average.
The numbers are huge; the minutiae just as big.
“I feel I’ve put a lot of effort into it,” Edwards said. “Like I said in training camp, I’m focusing on myself and doing all the little things.
“There are still a lot of things I can get better at. Even watching the film from this past game, there are things I wish I could correct.”
Quarterback Derek Anderson began to notice a change in Edwards during offseason workouts in the spring. He saw a stronger commitment that has resulted in better route running and more production.
“He’s getting off jams and getting himself just a little bit open,” Anderson said. “Like the play he made on fourth down for us, I really just gave him a chance to make a play on the guy. He gets both feet in and gets enough space where he can make the play.
“When the ball’s in the air, he’s going and getting it and not letting the defender beat him to it.”
Edwards’ fourth-down catch Sunday was a lot like the 13th touchdown, which was a lot like many before. He used his 6-foot-3 body, leaping ability and body control to go up and over 5-11 cornerback Darrelle Revis.
“I like jumping,” Edwards said. “It’s an advantage. I’m already 6-3, once I jump I’m way up in the air over guys and able to get to the ball way before other guys.
“You don’t want to jump all the time, don’t want anything to happen. I’m just comfortable in the air. I just focus that much more.”
Edwards has been the model citizen this year after making plenty of waves last season, including for criticizing teammates, the play calling and former offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon.
“Like I have mentioned all along, Braylon is a more mature player this year and he’s concentrating on being the best that he can be,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “It’s showing up on the field and in his production.”
Edwards and Anderson clicked on the field almost immediately. They hooked up nine times for two touchdowns in Anderson’s two full games last year and have strengthened the bond this year.
“I used to warm up with him,” Edwards said. “We had a natural rhythm, then he became the guy. We’ve been openly critical to one another and we’ve accepted it. I don’t take anything personal he says to me and he doesn’t take anything personal I say to him. We’ve had some success because of it.”
Collins is planning to attend the Browns game versus the Bills on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Edwards is just one leaping catch and slam dunk away from having the most productive season of any Browns receiver ever.
“He’s a go-to,” Jurevicius said. “He’s a guy when the opportunity presents itself, get that ball anywhere near him, he’s going to make the most of it.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.